JOY … in my Grand Coda

Portrait of Bashō by Hokusai, late 18th century, public domain

On a journey, ill;
my dream goes wandering
over withered fields.

Haiku by the great Japanese poet, Bashō (1644-1694). (This one is thought to be his “death poem.”*)N

It was a tradition among educated Japanese to write jisei (death poems). In some cases,  the poems were actually written well in advance of death. In others, they were spontaneously written during the process of dying. In part, it seems they were a kind of courtesy, a final farewell. It was also thought that at the moment of death some insight – perhaps enlightenment – was achieved and could be shared. Philosophically the poems where in accord with Buddhist or Shinto beliefs.

*The poem that is said to be Bashō’s death poem is actually not. According to Yoel Hoffmann in Japanese Death Poemsat the time of his death Bashō refused to write a death poem claiming that any of his poems could be considered death poems.

As far as I know, neither death nor enlightenment are imminent in my life. I merely came upon this collection of Japanese death poems  – some profound and some funny – and was inspired to try my hand at one, though not in the Japanese style.

GRAND CODA

Gratitude for seas, skies, and mountains,
for Earth's jeté entrelacéthrough space.
Luminous, my grand coda with the stars

© 2019, Jamie Dedes; Basho illustration is in the public domain ; dancer is coutesy of PD Clipart

*The poem that is said to be Bashō's death poem is actually not. According to Yoel Hoffmann in Japanese Death Poems, at the time of his death Bashō refused to write a death poem claiming that any of his poems could be considered death poems.

© 2019, Jamie Dedes (The Poet by Day and The BeZine)

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