The 15th-century poet Matsuo Basho is still considered Japan’s greatest master of the haiku poem, a short, 17-syllable verse form that relates some aspect of nature to the human experience. Although he was one of the most celebrated men of his day, he pursued a simple life of self-imposed poverty and solitude. In this portrait, Ichijun alluded to Matsuo’s haiku about the transient life: warau beshi naku beshi, waga asagao no, shibomu toki (to smile or to cry when my face in the morning [glory] is wilted).
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