Zen Monks Talking Big

      by Judy Halebsky


   稲妻に悟らぬ人の貴さ
                Bashō

        inazuma ni
        satoranu hito no
        tattosa yo

Bashō played softball, second base
he also slept with the nuns and had to leave town
drank sake in rice fields
talked to spiders and half moons and cobwebs
laughed at the rain getting his sleeping mat wet

        watching the lightning
        those who share simply
        are noble

inazuma (lightning) ni (with)
satora (enlightened, realized) nu (not) hito (people) no (possessive)
tattosa (honorable, noble) yo (yo)

I repeat: yo means yo

        highbrow talk
        ever the lightning
        such a pity


From Sky = Empty, Kalamazoo, Michigan: New Issues Press / Western Michigan University, 2009, page 16. Bashō’s haiku has also been translated as “how admirable / to see lightning / and not think life is fleeting.”