restricted access Two Haiku


One of the great masters of haiku, Basho wrote in the seventeenth century, when Edo was Japan's capital. His poetry broke from the decadent style of the time, finding instead a resonance with nature, simplicity, spontaneity, and originality. The first poem alludes to an old nursery rhyme about a flea that climbed over Fuji carrying a tea grinder on its back. It is said to refer to Toyotomi no Hideyoshi, a farmer's son who wished to rule Japan, but whose ambition was too great for him to fulfill. ED