Matsuo Bashō · 128 pages
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“In this mortal frame of mine which is made of a hundred bones and nine orifices there is something, and this something is called a wind-swept spirit for lack of a better name, for it is much like a thin drapery that is torn and swept away at the slightest stir of the wind. This something in me took to writing poetry years ago, merely to amuse itself at first, but finally making it its lifelong business. It must be admitted, however, that there were times when it sank into such dejection that it was almost ready to drop its pursuit, or again times when it was so puffed up with pride that it exulted in vain victories over the others. Indeed, ever since it began to write poetry, it has never found peace with itself, always wavering between doubts of one kind and another. At one time it wanted to gain security by entering the service of a court, and at another it wished to measure the depth of its ignorance by trying to be a scholar, but it was prevented from either because of its unquenchable love of poetry. The fact is, it knows no other art than the art of writing poetry, and therefore, it hangs on to it more or less blindly.”
“Searching for the scent
of the early plum,
I found it by the eaves
Of a proud storehouse.”
“Had I crossed the pass
Supported by a stick,
I would have spared myself
The fall from the horse.”
“The River Mogami has drowned
Far and deep
Beneath its surging waves
The flaming sun of summer”
“Here is a greedy man who keeps to himself
The beautiful pears ripe in his garden.”
Coming to the verandah-edge,
Left its droppings
On the rice-cakes.”
“The moon and sun are eternal travelers. Even the years wander on. A lifetime adrift in a boat or in old age leading a tired horse into the years, every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home. —Bashō: Oku-no-hosomichi”
“Days and months are travellers of eternity. So are the years that pass by. Those who steer a boat across the sea, or drive a horse over the earth till they succumb to the weight of years, spend every minute of their lives travelling. There are a great number of ancients, too, who died on the road. I myself have been tempted for a long time by the cloud-moving wind - filled with a strong desire to wander.”
“It is only a barbarous mind that sees other than the flower, merely an animal mind that dreams of other than the moon.”
The summer grasses—
For many brave warriors
The aftermath of dreams.
- Donald Keene, Travelers of a Hundred Ages, New York, 1999, p. 316 (Translation: Donald Keene)”
“They were herded passively into the gas chambers. Weary of being hunted and persecuted, of living in constant fear, they dumbly awaited the hand of the sure physician, Death. For them life had lost all meaning and purpose. To prolong it would merely have prolonged their suffering.”
“This tree, though, had not been fed on, so it was apparent that the culprit was a bull (elephant) who was filled with testosterone but no outlet for it, so he pushed over trees. It's a great release for a bull and a way of showing his strength after a female has rejected him. If human males had the same ability, global deforestation would be complete by now.”
“Oh my God!” Sam said again, his voice shaking. I’ve given birth to something inhuman, Phoebe thought. A lamprey with row after row of teeth.”
“After all, if I started confiding my innermost problems to someone, I'd have to do something about them. And I'm not ready for that yet.”
“Before I met No I thought that violence meant shouting and hitting and war and blood. Now I know that there can also be violence in silence and that it’s sometimes invisible to the naked eye. There’s violence in the time that conceals wounds, the relentless succession of days, the impossibility of turning back the clock. Violence is what escapes us. It’s silent and hidden. Violence is what remains inexplicable, what stays forever opaque...
My mother stands there at the living room door with her arms by her sides. And I think that there's violence in that too - in her inability to reach out to me, to make the gesture which is impossible and so forever suspended.”
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