Basho’s unfinished haiku


September 12, 2018 by petrujviljoen

missing a wife
putting on bamboo grass
hollow bamboo, hollow heart

The first two lines are those of Basho and the third is my take on what he may have meant. Or what it may mean to me. I took inspiration from the line following in an article on bamboo on Wikipedia

”Just as a bamboo is hollow-hearted, he should open his heart to accept anything of benefit and never have arrogance or prejudice.”

Kristjaan presented us with an unfinished haiku by Basho. He says: ”Basho has written around 1000 haiku in his lifetime, all in my opinion wonderful, but recently I ran into an “unfinished” haiku of Basho. I love to challenge you this week to create the third, missing, line [and than write a haibun with that completed haiku in it. Your haibun may have a maximum of 150 words (including the completed haiku).”

My concentration span didn’t allow for a haibun to follow from the lines.

Linked to Heeding Haiku on MMLM

file source: wikipedia


27 thoughts on “Basho’s unfinished haiku

  1. AnnIsikArts says:

    I read this (your) haiku about 2 weeks ago and have been pondering it on and off. I like your analogy between bamboo and the heart, ‘hollowness’ interpreted not negatively but as a space of openness. I read that bamboo is used in festivals to ward off evil and that bamboo grass is ‘sasa’ and at a festival on 7 July, (7/7) wishes are written on paper strips of various colours and attached to sasa. Perhaps Basho means in ‘putting on bamboo grass’ that he’s writing a wish on paper to put on sasa. I’ve had a go at this unfinished haiku! Here it is: Missing a wife/putting on bamboo grass/Akeshi’s hair. 🙂

    • I love it when people are inspired by something I’ve done. And followed up! I’ll look up Akeshi – so one is informed too. In doing research about why Basho would use bamboo to cover himself with (and not the leaves of his banana tree), I read about the warding off of evil and considered it: if a man (or woman) is alone and longing for the company of a partner, all sorts of other energies may detect this longing and use it as a vehicle to torment the person. It scared me so I went the route of the hollowness.

      • AnnIsikArts says:

        An invitation to finish a Basho haiku is irresistible! I think I will keep my interpretation of your haiku too. Opening space in the heart. Evil can’t prevail where it is not resisted – it feeds on opposition. I should remind myself of this often! After I did my own ‘finishing’ I could hear bamboo grass rustling and it sounded like Akeshi’s hair might have done … I won’t spoil the story for you. At the moment, it was as if I were reading something written by someone else. It’s quite magical when that happens.

  2. Beautiful and complete as it is- No prose portion necessary! This gave me a chill, a pang of grief.

  3. What an awesome choice for this third line. Chapeau!

  4. Jules says:

    The Master’s verse was confusing to me. Perhaps I was missing the Tao of it.
    I think you capture the emotional aspect of the loss.
    Without writing a haibun I did write a sort of story…

    Cheers, Jules

    • Hi Jules! Your posts seem to have disappeared from my Reader! I’ll go to your blog and re-follow. The internet connection here where I am has gone for a loop and I battle to load everything as well, so it could be that. Thanks for dropping in. Tagore may also have referred to the Great Mother, who is also in Lao Tzu’s Tao. I meant to edit but then didn’t.

      • Jules says:

        WP is going through another change… (arg). I had another notice to that the other day that they are wanting folks to try out a new editing system. I declined. I wish they would just leave things alone.

        (Could also be that I closed some sites, and have gone primary back to my longer verse and fiction places.)

        Anyway here’s the link:
        single again

        • Thanks for the link. I don’t think I’m following that one. I clicked on the link from the previous comment and it sent me to a protected blog, but the link on this comment works! Hope tht makes sense.

        • Jules says:

          Unfortunately the icon doesn’t go to a working site… I haven’t figure out how to switch it. So yes it does make perfect sense. Sorry for the confusion. WP doesn’t make it easy to switch between your own blogs. They used too… but that stopped several years ago.

        • I’ve ever only had the one and that’s too much to manage for me!

        • Jules says:

          I tried to be organize my writing. The short verse site had an nasty issue that WP couldn’t help with, so I shut it down. I tried to make another short verse site and then just shut it down too. I still write daily short verse. Just not publicly. 🙂

        • Okay! I’ll try to not be curious.

        • Jules says:

          I’m just particular about who follows me. my quirk. I don’t see the need for folks advertising their wares that have nothing to do with writing following me just to get to my folks. Which is why I don’t show ‘Likes’ on my sites. Now WP has it that you can delete followers, but if they follow again you have to delete them again, and again… But you can’t delete old followers from before they started the ‘new’ policy. Odd that.

          I welcome other writers and artists. But I don’t need those selling snake oil or bridges to nowhere. Which some attempt to do.

        • The spammers are very annoying! I’ve had a few of those but not so very many.

        • Jules says:

          I’ve just had some issues that makes me glad my icon goes to a closed site. Inconvenient for some, but the links I leave in the prompts/Linky go to what I have written.

        • Oh no! It went to ‘Protected Blog’ again!

  5. susanmehr says:

    I love the way you put it, hollow bamboo, hollow heart. Maybe he should plant some flowers in the garden!

  6. Suzanne says:

    I like your take on this one. It’s inspired me to have a go myself.

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