At the Grave of Bashō

by James Kirkup

No incense burns, old poet,

before your plain stone obelisk,

and there are no country flowers

in the bamboo jars.

A small green tree

with dark pointed foliage

and whose name I do not know

leans it shadow over you.

On the other side,

a bush with heart-shaped leaves

now in July has one leaf stained

with November red.

I plucked the leaf,

because it may have bene a sign from you.

It was the only signal I could give—

a passing greeting from one wander to another

Written at Bashō’s grave in the grounds of Gichuji Temple east of Kyoto. From A Certain State of Mind: An Anthology of Classic, Modern and Contemporary Japanese Haiku in Translation with Essays and Reviews. Salzburg, Austria: University of Salzburg, 1995, page 133.