Basho’s poetic philosophy #1

From Basho:

My Translation

From the pine,
Learn the pine,
From bamboo,
Learn bamboo.


Matsu no koto wa
Matsu ni narae,
Take no koto wa
Take ni narae!
Literal translation
About a pine,
Learn the pine,
About a bamboo,
Learn the bamboo.

Source: Toshiharu Oseko’s Basho’s Haiku, citing Hattori Doho’s “San-Zoshi.” Doho was a student of Basho and explained many of his poetical teachings.

It’s quite a nice little poem, simple but meaningful. The main message I get from it is to understand something, study it in itself without preconceived notions or added complexity. There is also a connotation of oneness with nature, of finding meaning in natural things we see every day.
Reading the poem reminds me of all the theories of literary criticism I read in college, some great, and some not-so-great. I think a lot of those intellectual architectures, while they have some uses, hinder us from really appreciating art.

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