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As the son of a samurai Matsuo Basho glorified Japanese three-line haiku to the whole worl

Haiku (haiku) remains popular largely due to the fact that perfectly conveys the undertones of funny, allows you to achieve a funny understatement – a couple of expressive strokes, a reference to the mysterious Eastern nature – and the joke is ready. But when haiku, which was initially called “haiku”, appeared in Japanese culture, the role he had just such – comic. But thanks to the poet Matsuo Basho haiku genre rose to the very top of Japanese art – it turned out that “haiku space is infinite and can accommodate the whole world”, in the words of another famous author haiku, or Haijin, Masaoka Shiki.

The roots of Japanese poetry, as befits everything that this culture is famous for, go back to the deep past. The genre, which appeared on haiku is the poetry Renga, or Tanka, in the form of the quintet, which includes exactly 31 syllables. This form of versification has been known in Japan since the VIII century. A selection haiku in a separate genre of poetic art had in the XVI century.

First treastise were in the nature of comic works that were considered “easy” a genre of poetry, but from the XVII century the meaning of the haiku has changed – the reason was the work of the poet Matsuo Basho, who is considered the main poet of this genre in its entire history.

Matsuo Jinetero, the future poet Basho, was born in a poor samurai family in 1644. From an early age he was interested in poetry, which was by that time available not only to the elite, but also to the Japanese of small income. At the age of twenty, he began to study literature in Kyoto and, forced to earn his bread, entered the service of the noble samurai todo Yoshitada, who was also a fan of literary art and Amateur poet. After the death of his master in 1666, Matsuo was in the public service, and then began to teach poetry. Matsuo’s father and older brother were also teachers – teaching calligraphy to wealthy aristocrats and their families.

In 1667, the first poems of Basho were published, and the real glory came to him in 1681, when he saw the light of his three-line about the crow:

On a dead branch
Black crows.
Autumn evening.

In this translation of Konstantin Balmont allowed some inaccuracy – “dry” branch turns here into a “dead” – to enhance the impression of haiku. Others recognized version of the translation is fulfilled by Faith Markova:

On a bare branch
The Raven sits alone…
Autumn evening!

There was an additional word – “lonely” – for the same reasons.

Requirements for classical haiku and deviations from the rules

Generally speaking, only in the Western tradition haiku is written in three lines. The original Japanese poems was a characters depicted from top to bottom on the page. At the same time to haiku there are several requirements that must be met to classify the product is to this genre.

The lines don’t rhyme. Haiku consists of 17 syllables, they are distributed in a ratio of 5-7-5, each part is separated from the next dividing word – kireji, which is a kind of exclamation particle. In translations into European languages, the role of kireji is usually played by line breaks and punctuation marks.
Classical haiku contains a reflection of nature in the eyes of a person, a poet, it is a recorded impression of what he saw or heard. In the text there must be an indication of the time of year – kigo – not necessarily direct, it can be a context to determine when there is something that describes the poet.

Haiku, as a rule, has no name and describes only what is happening in the present time. However, the bass has repeatedly violated these rules, their requirements are not completely categorical, if the essence of the poem correspond to the idea of haiku.
The main thing the poet strives for is to convey the impression of the moment in seventeen syllables. In haiku there is no place for verbosity, complicated images, while reading the text opens a deep philosophical meaning – in a completely Oriental spirit.

Here haiku by Matsuo Basho, made famous by the poet for centuries:

Old pond!
A frog jumped.
A splash of water.

(translated by T. P. Grigorieva)

The poem was published in 1686 and up to the present time has caused and causes among art critics debate about the true meaning of the text. Six words, of which the verb – action – is only one, give rise to a variety of interpretations: and about the contemplation that captured the poet and was interrupted by a quiet sound; and about the stagnant water, symbolizing the past; and about the gloomy pessimism of the poet, for whom the frog, toad – this is something that does not make life anything bright – and many other attempts of interpretation, which, however, can not overshadow the simple charm of three short lines.

Especially for the Japanese, and for those familiar with the Eastern culture of Europeans, in these three simple strokes visible, for example, the image of an ancient Buddhist temple, filled with silence and far from the bustle of the city. Interestingly, the descriptions of sounds in his works bass paid attention quite often – they are mentioned in a hundred and ten poems (out of a total of about a thousand haiku authorship bass).

The influence of the bass

Matsuo Basho lived in poverty, even in poverty, but as a Buddhist he accepted his position indifferently. He lived in a simple hut, which was built for him by one of the disciples. In front of the hut, the poet planted a banana tree – “the bass”, this word became the name. Basho was described as moderate, caring and loyal to family and friends, but he sought peace of mind all his life, as he has repeatedly admitted to his students. One day In 1682, in a fire in the town of Edo, where the poet lived, his hut burned down, and with it a banana tree. And despite the fact that a year later the poet was again and a hut and banana tree at the entrance, the bass soul can’t rest. He left Edo – present-day Tokyo – and went on a journey through Japan. It is as a poet-wanderer, he later entered the history of literature.

Travel in those days was difficult, involve a large number of formalities, and just as dangerous, and in the course of your travels, Basho was ready for that sudden accident or illness that interrupted his way including life. Nevertheless, the circumstances were favorable, and the poet became increasingly popular, appearing in different cities of Japan and meeting with both ordinary people and noble aristocrats. Basho kept only the most necessary things with him – a staff, a rosary with beads, and a flute, a small wooden Gong and a collection of poems.
And this minimalism, and detachment from the world, and poverty, giving the opportunity not to be distracted by the material, Basho took from the philosophy of Zen, she also found expression in his haiku. Difficult living conditions do not mean that the state of mind should be heavy – this was one of the meanings that Basho put into his work.

Journey not only gave the material for travel writing, but also the inspiration for the new haiku. Basho described the calm and simple beauty of the world – not the riot of cherry blossoms, and making its way out of the ground blade of grass, not the grandeur of the mountains, and the modest shape of the stone.
Matsuo Basho’s health, whether from wandering or from asceticism, was weak – he died after only half a century. The last poem that the poet wrote was the so-called “Death song»:

In a way I was sick,
And increasingly neck, spinning my dream
Across scorched fields.
(Translation By Vera Markova)

Name of Basho for several centuries enjoyed in Japan recognition and a huge respect. In the 19th century, Basho’s artistic techniques were revised by another outstanding poet – Masaoka Shiki, who, despite his short life, opened his own haiku school, where Basho’s legacy was studied as the basis of Japanese poetry. He also developed a literary method – shasei, the essence of which boils down to the writer’s understanding of the world around him. Haiku in this case plays the role not just descriptions of something happening to the author, it shows a small piece of the world through the lens of the inner eye of the poet. And it was Masaoka Shiki, among other things, who suggested the term “haiku” instead of the former “haiku”.

Interest in haiku in the West arose in the XIX century, and since the beginning of the last century Japanese poetry began to translate – first into English. There were attempts to write a haiku in one line, without a break, but it became commonplace location haiku in the form of a three-line. Traditionally, when the collection is released, each poem is placed on a separate page, allowing the reader to feel the atmosphere of haiku and not distracting him from creating a mental image. The rule of seventeen syllables is often broken in translation: given linguistic differences, maintaining the required size can sometimes be achieved only to the detriment of the expressiveness of the text and the accuracy of the translation.

If the driving Western art has traditionally been the desire to create a perfect – from the author’s point of view – work, the Eastern art does not separate the result of creativity from the Creator – it is in harmony between the poet and his text that the meaning of Japanese poetry is concluded. Now, when the harmony of man and the world around him has become a fashionable theme in the West, several trends in Japanese art are recognized worldwide. Ikebana, rock garden, tea ceremony along with haiku embody wabi-Sabi – worldview based on loneliness, modesty, inner strength, authenticity.

The beauty of the Japanese is that naturally, genuinely, that fleeting and elusive. Haiku – it is about the beauty of the world in the understanding of the Japanese.
And we can not admit that it was from Japan came to the Western world – the fashion for minimalism in everything, including, it turns out, and photos.

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