A poet can be described as anyone who uses language creatively, who can evoke a specific emotional response through words, or a person possessing special powers of imagination: Edgar Allen Poe, William Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, Robert Frost. My favorite poet as a teenager was Elizabeth Barrett Browning and I spent hours reading her collective works.
In my early college years, my favorite poet was Bashō. I discovered his poetry accidentally when browsing through a bookstore to find a few tips about traveling. I didn’t have much money, so I was looking for something inexpensive and noticed a small Penguin Classic called Bashō: The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches. At the time, I thought the paperback might have some insight into how I might accomplish my dream of touring the world. It turned out the book didn’t have an iota of traveling advice, but it did give me something far more valuable.
The book tells the story of the respected Japanese poet Bashō through his remarkable contribution to the shortest form of Japanese poetry called haiku. Haiku, or hokku as it was called when Bashō lived (1644-1694), consists of seventeen syllables, divided into three sections of five-seven-five. The haikus he created to describe the world around him were and still are nothing short of astonishing, and I find more meaning in them every time I read one.
At the surface level, haikus can be just descriptive poems, but I think the best haikus are ones with a simple symbolic quality, an expression that transcends the moment –an aha flash, something that strengthens our connection to the natural world and sometimes with a deeper meaning.
Over the years, I’ve written hundreds of haikus in a plain-lined journal, attempting to capture my connection to the natural world and when I need to express how wonderful living truly is; striving to emulate a little of what Bashō did so brilliantly. For me, there is comfort in the down-to-earth writing of haikus; a discipline in whole-heartedly committing to the moment –to capture the essence of now, to freefall into what is.
snow falls quietly
soft as dandelion heads
blanketing my thoughts
winter sun rises
makes me wish for the brightest
colors of summer
love looks like white snow
next to a blooming flower
showing me the light
just before sunrise
as the sky begins to glow
I remember you
How did you find solace this week?
© 2023. Sharon Kreider. All Rights Reserved