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Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics$
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Wm. Theodore de Bary

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231153973

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231153973.001.0001

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The Poetry of Matsuo Bashō

The Poetry of Matsuo Bashō

(p.275) 21(A) The Poetry of Matsuo Bashō
Finding Wisdom in East Asian Classics

Haruo Shirane

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the poetry of Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694). Modern haiku derives from the seventeen-syllable hokku, or opening verse, of haikai, or comic linked verse. When Bashō began his career as a haikai poet in the early Edo period, the seventeen-syllable hokku was regarded primarily as the beginning of a linked verse (renga) sequence, which usually consisted of thirty-six or a hundred links (5/7/5, 7/7, 5/7/5, 7/7, etc.) composed alternately by one or more poets. Bashō considered himself to be, first and foremost, a comic linked-verse poet and made a profession as a haikai teacher, but he often composed independent hokku—commonly referred to by modern readers as haiku—for which he is primarily known today and which lie at the heart of his prose narratives.

Keywords:   Japanese poetry, Japanese poets, Matsuo Bashō, haiku, haikai, hokku, comic linked verse

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