The Autumn Wind

“Ignore the faults of others and be ignorant of your own virtues.”

Should I to say a word
My lips turn cold
In the autumn wind.

mono   ieba / kuchibirusa   samushi  / aki  no  kaze

物いへば唇寒し龝の風

Autumn 1691

On his return to Edo in the autumn of 1691, Bashō took up the task of editing his journal that was to become The Narrow Road to the Interior (奥の細道, Oku no Hosomichi), which was published in 1694. He had a great many visitors and wrote to a friend, “I have no peace of mind.”

Silence is golden!

Scattered Leaves

leaves,
some the wind scatters on the ground;
so too the race of men.

– Iliad vi.146

Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and Stoic philosopher, paraphrasing the Illiad, vi146, in his Meditations, 10.34.

Maple Leaves at Tsūtenkyō
Maple Leaves at Tsūtenkyō, near Kyoto

Matsuo Basho on Scattered Leaves

Let the universe be your companion, bearing in mind the true nature of things—mountains and rivers, trees and grass, and humanity – and enjoy the falling blossoms and scattered leaves. Matsuo Basho

Humanity, Basho observed, enjoys the true nature of things. Autumn leaves, falling leaves of red and gold, scattered leaves outside my window, written about in song and poem, a last hurrah, a winsome remembrance, before winter’s wind comes along.

Such things as these cherished tears
coloring
scattered maple leaves

尊がる涙や 染めて 散る紅葉
tootogaru namida ya somete chiru momiji

Matsuo Basho on Autumn Leaves.

October 1, 1691, shortly before Basho, age 48, returned to Edo. Basho’s greeting to the priest Ryu at Menshooji temple 明照寺, (Meishōji), near Lake Biwa, in Hikone, Shiga Prefecture. WKD Matsuo Basho Archives

Menshooj Temple, original image Wikipedia

Moon over the Mountains, Basho

Let us write poetry!
the moon over the mountains
is rarely seen in Edo

Hiroshige’s Moon over Mountain, 1835

Moon Viewing

Matsuo Basho is 33.

He has been living for four years in Edo’s fashionable and artsy Nihonbashi neighborhood. It is noisy, it is dirty, the lights obscure the moon. A autumn trip to his birthplace in Iga, Ueno provides an opportunity to see the harvest moon.

The last line, 山の月 yama no tsuki, moon over the mountain. This refers to the Japanese custom of holding parties to see a full moon, called moon viewing. The most popular viewing is the harvest moon in mid-autumn, celebrated as Tsukimi.

This post relies on WKD – Matsuo Basho Archives by Gabi Greve.

Notes on Translation

読む nagamuru, “reading out loud”. One can of course silently experience the beauty of a full moon. Sharing an experience is better.

稀な marena, rare or uncommon.

Japanese and Rōmaji 

詠むるや江戸には稀な山の月

nagamuru ya Edo ni wa marena yama no tsuki