The Narrow Road to the Deep North
By Matsuo Basho
Time is by far the most prevalent theme in this work. All events are happening wile time passes and they are brought together through time. It comes with us where ever we go and is how we measure and remember our experiences. It, in turn, watches us as we live. Time is a part of the Buddha spirit of everything being a part of a whole. It flows together and is the highest form of Buddha spirit as it links all things together. Basho himself shows he is very receptive to this. At the start he takes the time to tell of how his own home is not fully his own. His home is passed on; this shows that every place is touched by more than one life simply because of the passage of time. He leaves his notes behind because he himself wrote with the memories of other writers. Basho is acknowledging his place in the universe where he is pushed along by forces outside of himself.
Looking on Nikko he sees the world coming together in light, the leaves mentioned in the poem is a good representation of the warriors and artisans mentioned. This feeling of light passing through the world and all living in peace is highlighted by the Innkeeper that they meet the day before with his honest and good spirit. The significance of the past meeting the present is Basho’s able to gain a deeper appreciation for what the places around him could have once been and how they are now are in his time. Nature is presented in comparison to every part of life. Basho, when mentioning comfort, flips from a person to something in nature having provided it. When not at a spot of typical merit but other authors he adds a short bit about the mundane but never with such awe as what has been a shared topic with other writers and in history.
I feel as a modern, western, individual I can’t appreciate this work. I know I am lacking in the ability to appreciate the connections made by Basho and his world. We are pretty far removed from the world where I am at. We don’t sit and watch, we don’t see the value in the little, and I feel this takes away something that I could have gained. All and all I don’t feel I gained much from this read but that is my fault.
Basho, Matsuo. The Norton Anthology World Literature. Vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2013. Print.