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RELATED TOPIC:
BASHÔ'S NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH

RELATED TOPIC:
CHIKAMATSU MONZAEMON (1653-1725)

RELATED TOPIC:
SAIKAKU (1642-1693)

RELATED TOPIC:
TOKUGAWA JAPAN

 
BASHÔ, MASTER OF THE HAIKAI
AND HAIKU FORMS

Bashô and the Evolution of Haiku
Matsuo Bashô (1644-1694) is commonly referred to by his given name, Bashô, rather than his family name, Matsuo. This is the custom with certain Japanese writers.

[Haiku by Bashô]

te wo uteba
kodama ni akuru
natsu no tsuki

as I clap my hands
with the echoes, it begins to dawn —
the summer moon

Robert Oxnam :: Bashô was a master of the haiku form, which not only retains its popularity in today's Japan, but has also been introduced into American schools at all levels.

Haiku evolved from the haikai, linked verse, that was written in the Tokugawa period. Every haikai begins with an opening verse of seventeen syllables. This opening verse was called a hokku. It was written in three lines of 5, then 7, then 5 syllables to make the total of 17 syllables. Bashô took this opening verse, the hokku, and refined it to become what is now known as the haiku.

Haiku from Makoto Ueda, Bashô and His Interpreters: Selected Hokku with Commentary (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1992), p. 317.