Friday, May 24, 2013

Expending My Feelings on Flowers and Birds

Last night before I went to bed I was looking for something short to read before I went to sleep; I picked up THE ESSENTIAL HAIKU, edited by Robert Haas, and after flipping through it for a couple of minutes, settled on re-reading Basho's travel sketch "The Hut of the Phantom Dwelling" from 1690 (translated here by Burton Watson), in which appears this wonderful, typically Basho-lonely and Basho-thoughtful, line:

And when the sun has begun to sink behind the rim of the hills, I sit quietly in the evening waiting for the moon so I may have a shadow for company, or light a lamp and discuss right and wrong with my silhouette.

and also this:

I've worn out my body in journeys that are as aimless as the winds and clouds and expended my feelings on flowers and birds.

Sounds like a pretty good way to spend one's life, if you ask me.

The book also contain these two haiku, which I can relate to:

Deep autumn--
my neighbor,
how does he live, I wonder?

Even in Kyoto--
hearing the cuckoo's cry--
I long for Kyoto.

(I've never been to Kyoto, but I know the feeling of missing the place where you already are.)