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Narrow Road to the Deep North by Matsuo Basho

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In his perfectly crafted haiku poems, Basho described the natural world with great simplicity and delicacy of feeling. When he composed "The Narrow Road to the Deep North" he was a serious student of Zen Buddhism setting off on a series of travels designed to strip away the trappings of the material world and bring spiritual enlightenment. He wrote of the seasons changing, of the smell of the rain, the brightness of the moon and the beauty of the waterfall, through which he sensed the mysteries of the universe.

Matsuo Basho, the Japanese poet and diarist, was born in Iga-ueno near Kyoto in 1644. He began to write verse while studying as the companion of the son of the local lord, and continued to write when he moved to Edo (now Tokyo) in 1667. He eventually became a recluse, and on his travels relied on the hospitality of temples and fellow poets. His work was much influenced by Zen Buddhism.

Translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa.

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