Basho’s Haibun “Hiraizumi”: A Commentary

Field at present day Hiraizumi ruins site, Japan . . . all that remains of soldiers’ dreams.

Bashō’s travel journals, purportedly the earliest examples of haibun, are accounts of his late-in-life walking journeys through Japan. They are often cited as important reading for serious students of the form. More generally, they are held up as good reading for readers who enjoy poetic prose and who want a glimpse of the spirit of a man who lived several centuries ago.

For this commentary, I’ve selected the passage “Hiraizumi” from Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North about the demise of the Fujiwara clan. The aim to to explore Basho’s use of haibun and haiku as an exemplar of Japan’s best known haiku and haibun master.

I’ve also added one of my published haibun as an example of a contemporary haibun composition.

Continue reading . . . -> Commentary

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