The wind in the pines
The falling leaves
Cool is the water’s sound
Like the wind that sighs in the pines
Like the leaves that rustle and fall
Refreshing is the water’s sound
matsukaze no ochiba ka mizu no oto suzushi
松風の 落葉か水の音 涼し
His mother died the year before. Then, in the autumn of 1684, Matsuo Basho took up the first of his major wanderings that would become the basis of his travelogues, a collection of haiku and commentaries about his journey. The trip took him from Edo to Mount Fuji, to Kyoto, where he had studied as a young man, and finally to Ueno, his mother’s grave and home.
With a simple walking stick and a backpack containing pen and paper, he set off, traveling on average 20 miles a day, resting underneath a shady willow beside a stream when he wanted, sleeping amid the flowers when alone, lingering awhile when he encountered friends.
Passing Osaka and Kobe, Basho descends from the hills that surround Suma Bay. A cool wind stirs in the pine trees, the white sandy beach stretch out before him. It is fall and so the red and yellow leaves of the deciduous trees rustle and begin to fall. All along Osaka Bay, the waves gently lap the shore. Even after his day’s journey, Basho feels refreshed.
One word describes the scene – Suzushi, 涼し. It is cool and refreshing, the feeling is unconcerned, at peace. No doubt the scene brings to mind a a scene from a Noh play – Matsukaze, the brine woman who pines for her lover.
In the year 1684, his fame as a haiku poet established, Matsuo Basho, now in his fourth decade, left Edo on a trip that would take him to to Mount Fuji, Nagoya, Ueno (his home), Kyoto (where he was a student), and Osaka, and Kobe. One assumes from the above haiku, to nearby Suma Beach, which is associated with the Noh play, Matsukaze.
Matsukaze (Pining Wind, Wind in the Pines) is a well-known Noh play by by Kan’ami, revised by Zeami Motokiyo. Matsukaze and Murasame (Autumn Rain) are two sisters who ladled brine to make salt by the sandy shore of Suma. The story is about long lost love and heartbreak. Love grown cold.
Notes on Translation
I find sonorous, the sounds matsu and mizu; no ochiba and no oto. Suzushi is an example of onomatopoeia, it sounds like it means.
松風, Matsukaze is a combination of 松, matsu, pine, and 風, kaze, wind. Pine may be the noun as in pine tree, or the verb, as in to pine for a long lost lover. Kaze, wind, is probably familiar to those who have heard of kamikaze, divine wind.
落葉, Ochiba, falling leaves place the haiku in autumn, the seasonal word.
水, Mizu, is water; 涼し, suzushi, cool, refreshing.