For All Eternity: Basho’s Poetics


Here is the opening part of his most popular travel prose, “Oku no Hosomichi (The Back-country Trails)”. Aesthetic sensitivity here is a little different from other conventional Japanese attitude toward life and beauty.



The Months and days. They’re on a journey for all eternity. The years that come and go. They’re also wayfarers. Transporters grow old making a living on ships or leading workhorses. They are travelers for ever. They find their homes wherever their travels take them.


The common attitude toward the fact that life is too short is to regretfully lament over and find sentimental beauty in its frailty or to focus on the present and be determined to make the best of what you have now. Basho, however, jumps into the gushing current of life. He tries to ride the life’s mane, not knowing where the journey takes him.


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