Opinion

The Narrow Road to the Deep North (2)

By Nobuyuki Yuasa

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is the writer of Haiku poem in the Japanese poetry. We are pleased to offer the translation of his trip to north Japan, in the same year he died, as he himself described it as, “The Narrow Road to the Deep North.”

The poem was translated by a Japanese academic researcher specialized in Haiku and Japanese culture, called Nobuyuki Yuasa.

Station 2 – Departure

It was early on the morning of March the twenty-seventh that I took to the road. There was darkness lingering in the sky, and the moon was still visible, though gradually thinning away. The faint shadow of Mount Fuji and the cherry blossoms of Ueno and Yanaka were bidding me a last farewell. My friends had got together the night before, and they all came with me on the boat to keep me company for the first few miles. When we got off the boat at Senju, however, the thought of three thousand miles before me suddenly filled my heart, and neither the houses of the town nor the faces of my friends could be seen by my tearful eyes except as a vision.

The passing spring
Birds mourn,
Fishes weep
With tearful eyes.

With this poem to commemorate my departure, I walked forth on my journey, but lingering thoughts made my steps heavy. My friends stood in a line and waved good-bye as long as they could see my back.

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