Basho’s last haiku, and other poems

Zen Poetry

The name ‘Basho’ means ‘banana’ in Japanese. The man began as a poet and seeker
who attained to enlightenment and wrote succinct, timeless verse.


Sick on a journey
Over parched fields
Dreams wander on

(This was Basho’s last haiku, written in 1694)

Whore and monk, we sleep
Under one roof together,
Moon in a field of clover
This bright harvest moon
Keeps me walking all night long
Around the little pond
Summer grasses:
All that remains
Of a soldier’s dreams
Awaiting snow,
Drunken poets
See lightning flash
Noon doze,
Wall cool against
My feet
Do not forget the plum,
In the thicket
Dipping moon,
Rice wine
Skylark on moor
Sweet song
Of non-attachment

~ Matsuo Basho
The myriad differences resolved by sitting, all doors opened.
In this still place i follow my nature, be what it may.
From the one hundred flowers i wander freely,
The soaring cliff; my hall of meditation
(with the moon emerged, my mind is motionless).
Sitting on this frosty seat, no more dream of fame.
The forest, the mountain follow their ancient ways,
And through the long spring day, not even the shadow of a bird.

~ Reizan
After ten years in the red-light district,
How solitary a spell in the mountains.
I can see clouds a thousand miles away,
Hear ancient music in the pines.

~ Ikkyu