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. These travel writings not only chronicle Basho's perilous journeys through Japan, but they also capture his vision of eternity in the transient world around him.
Basho's haikus are widely read and admired by poetry lovers in the Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches (Penguin Classics), Basho describes the beauty of nature that he experienced and observed while on his journey through Japan in this edition which has been translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa, Basho's haikus are accompanied with an introduction to the haibun style by Yuasa, which sees poetry and prose working side by side.
Simplicity is inherent in the poetry of Matsuo Basho. While writing this particular collection, he was a student of Zen Buddhism and had decided to travel through the country, getting away from the material world around him. What he sought was nature in its elemental form, wherein he could write and capture the true essence of nature in his work. He wrote of the four seasons and their change into the other and his words depict the way in which he was enlightened by the neutrality of it all. Simple things like the brightness of the moon and a waterfall served as Basho's inspiration and he produced words that would be read posthumously.
In the Narrow Road to the Deep North, it is not just poetry that is striking, it is the sense of serenity that is inherent in Basho's work. He tries to acquaint his readers with his notion of the transient beauty that he saw all around him. The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches (Penguin Classics), written by Matsuo Basho and translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa, was published by Penguin UK in 1967. This reprint edition is available in paperback.
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