Matsuo Bashō’s Poetic Spaces: Exploring Haikai Intersections by E. Kerkham

By E. Kerkham

Haikai is an artwork that parodies and sometimes subverts its linguistic, customary, and private predecessors, and its intersections contain imaginitive hyperlinks to the remainder of eastern literature and tradition. This number of essays explores convinced overlooked elements of this haikaimaster's literary and philosophical contributions.

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And this artistic spirit is to follow zpka, to be a companion to the turning of the four seasons. Nothing one sees is not a flower, nothing one imagines is not the moon. If what is seen is not a flower, one is like a barbarian; if what is imagined is not a flower, one is like a beast. 1 I have left untranslated the key term zpka, a rather uncommon word derived from Chinese sources. ” But the translation as “nature” does not solve the issue of what zpka means. 3 And it is a personal construction, a distinctive element in any individual worldview.

Haikai Poets’ Debates At the beginning of the seventeenth century, haikai enjoyed great popularity as a new form of literature and of culture; at the same time, however, fierce debates arose among its practitioners and factions. Style, of course, underwent dramatic changes. Bashp commented on the conditions of the time in his epilogue to Tokiwaya no kuawase (Tokiwaya Verse Contest, 1680) by his disciple Sugiyama Sampu (1647–1732): It is said that during the more than four centuries between the Han and the Wei dynasties, poets, people of genius, and literary styles changed three times.

Notes This essay is based on a talk, with some revisions, presented by Professor Hori at the University of Maryland, November 5, 1994. 1. , Vol. , Kyoraishp hypshaku (Tokyo: Meichp Henkpkai, 1970), 256–258. 2. The hat, hood, and robe are garments associated with eccentrics or peculiar men-about-town. 3. , Danrin haikai shu, II Koten haibungaku taikei, Vol. 4 (Tokyo: Shueisha, 1972), 439–440. 4. For English translation of passages from Zhuangzi relevant to the doctrine see, for instance, Burton Watson, The Complete Works of Chuang Tzu, “Discussion on Making All Things Equal,” chapter 2 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1968), 39–40: Words are not just wind.

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