Matsuo Bashe. Biography

Matsuo Bashe. Biography

Five centuries have passed since the days of the wanderings of the Saiga, when a new great poet, Matsuo Basse, went on a journey through the roads of Japan. As well as the Saiga, he preferred the staff to home comfort and gave the best moments of his life to writing poetry. Like the Saiga, he was indifferent to wealth, power, purchase pleasures and above all appreciated spiritual self-improvement. As well as Saiga, he studied himself and taught others to seek beauty and meaning in the small things of everyday life. Saiga was the favorite poet of Bash, and even more so – the spiritual companion of his wanderings and creativity. However, with all spiritual kinship, they were different poets. It was not for nothing that Basho liked to repeat the commandment of the Eastern sage: “Do

not follow the tracks of the ancients, but look for what they were looking for,” which meant: in order to become a worthy successor to predecessors, and to comprehend their spiritual experience, and to comprehend it in their own way, in a new way. Following this formula, Bash and could become what he became: a great heir to the cherished traditions of Japanese poetry and its great innovator.

The future poet was born in 1644 in the province of Iga in the family of the poor Samurai Matsuo Edzaemon, who earned his living by teaching calligraphy. When the boy grew up, he was given the name of Munfus in return for his former children’s nicknames. Literary pseudonym “Bass” was coined by the poet later. To the poem Matsuo addicted since his youth. This was facilitated by communication with relatives, well versed in literature, and with the prince’s son, who was a passionate admirer of poetry. After reaching twenty-eight years, Matsuo decided to move into the largest at the time the cultural center of Edo, where he expected to seriously improve his poetic talent. His desperate attempts to dissuade him from this venture did not succeed: the call of poetry drowned out reason. With ambitious hopes in his heart and with a volume of his poems in his hands, Matsuo left his native places. Leaving, he attached to

the gates of the house in which his friend lived, a leaf with verses:

Cloud ridge
Lied between friends… Prostilis
Migratory geese forever.

In Edo, the young poet immersed himself in a stormy literary life. Acquaintance with the fashionable at that time poetic school Dandrin taught him to draw inspiration in everyday life, and the study of Chinese classical literature developed in him a taste for philosophical poetry. By combining these traditions, Basa brought the old genre of hokku to a new orbit of philosophical lyrics. This allowed the poet to rise to such a height of mastery, where each of his three-poems turned into a real masterpiece.

Every year, the poet’s work became more widely recognized. Bash had not only fans, but also followers: he became one of the most authoritative and beloved teachers of poetic mastery. Learning from him was considered the greatest honor.

However, the glory that was growing day by day did not provide the poet with a comfortable life. Poetic craft fed badly, but he did not want to do anything else. His disciples were mostly as poor as he himself, and therefore could not alleviate his situation. However, one of them was from a well-to-do family who persuaded his father to give the poet a miserable hut-lodge on the shore of the pond. For Basha, tired of years of poverty, this was almost a royal gift. Living around a new place, he planted banana palms around the house. They gave the poet a literary name, and at the same time – a poetic name for his dwelling: “Banana hut”. In this small unreliable house, sheltered on the outskirts of the city, one could not even really hide from the rain or the cold. But for any life’s blessings Bass would not agree to change his shack, an indestructible fortress that stood guard over his spiritual and creative freedom. With truly imperial dignity, he lived in it the life of a beggar, but a happy artist, independent of the benevolence of “the powerful of this world,” enjoying creativity and communicating with friends, who in all circumstances retains the ability to enjoy the simplest things:

And I’m a simple man!
Only the convolvulus blossoms, I
eat my morning rice.

The interior of his haven and the environs of Bose stretched beyond his threshold lovingly depicted in many poems.

In the winter of 1682, during a terrible fire that destroyed a significant part of the city, the Banana hut burnt to the ground. Left without a roof, the poet did not lose heart, having decided that at last the time for new wanderings, about which he had long dreamed, came. Soon Bass, accompanied by one of the students, went on a journey that lasted ten years with small interruptions. Sometimes the poet returned to the Banana hut, carefully rebuilt by friends, but the thirst for wanderings again drove him on the road-road. He died during the next trip, surrounded by his students.

The glory that Matsuo Basa earned during his lifetime did not fade after his death. Today, three centuries later, every educated Japanese knows by heart at least a few of his poems. Both the poet himself and his hokku have acquired the widest fame in the whole world.


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Matsuo Bashe. Biography