Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The rules of poetical pilgrimage

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Matsuo Basho

  1. Do not sleep twice in the same inn; wish for a mat that you have not yet warmed.
  2. Do not gird even a dagger on your thigh; kill no living thing. Meet the enemy of your lord or father only without the gate, for “Not living under the same heaven or walking the same earth”—this law comes from an inevitable human feeling.
  3. Clothes and utensils are to be suitable to one’s needs, not too many, not too few.
  4. The desire for the flesh of fish, fowl, and beast is not good. Indulging in tasty and rare dishes leads to baser pleasures. Remember the saying “Eat simple food, and you can do anything.”
  5. Do not produce your verses unasked; if asked, never refuse.
  6. When in a difficult and dangerous region, do not weary of the journey; should you do so, turn back halfway.
  7. Do not ride on horses or on palanquins. Think of your staff as another thin leg.
  8. Do not be fond of wine. If it is difficult to refuse at banquets, stop after you have had a little. “Restrain yourself from rowdiness.” Because drunkenness at the matsuri is disliked, the Chinese use unrefined saké. This is an admonition to keep away from saké; be careful!
  9. Do not forget the ferry boat fee and tips.
  10. Do not mention other people’s weaknesses and your own strong points. Reviling others and praising yourself is an exceedingly vulgar thing.
  11. Apart from poetry, do not gossip about all things and sundry. When there is such talk, take a nap and recreate yourself.
  12. Do not become intimate with women haiku poets; this is good for neither teacher nor pupil. If she is in earnest about haiku, teach her through another. The duty of men and women is the production of heirs. Dissipation prevents the richness and unity of the mind. The way of haiku arises from concentration and lack of distraction. Look well within yourself.
  13. You must not take a needle or blade of grass that belongs to another. Mountains, streams, rivers, marshes—all have an owner; be careful about this.
  14. You should visit mountains, rivers, and historical places. Do not give them new names.
  15. Be grateful to a man who teaches you even a single word. Do not try to teach unless you understand fully. Teaching is to be done after you have perfected yourself.
  16. Do not treat as of no account anyone who puts you up even one night, or gives you a single meal. Even so, do not flatter people. Those who do such things are the rascals of the world. Those who walk the way of haiku should associate with others who walk it.
  17. Think, in the evening; think, in the morning. Traveling is not to be done in the beginning and ending of the day. Do not trouble other people. Remember the saying, “If you trouble them, they will be distant to you.”

—Attributed to Matsuo Bashō

Written by nevalalee

June 20, 2015 at 7:30 am

Posted in Quote of the Day

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