Bashō, the hokku poet

by Nyogen Senzaki

Bashō, the hokku poet of Japan,

Wandered alone like a ragged cloud.

He drifted aimlessly from place to place,

Like a nameless riverlet of the Autumn field.

Three centuries after his living days,

His admirers and followers commemorate him,

On this shore of the Pacific Ocean.

Even though eighty-four thousand poems

Were written in different languages,

They cannot delineate the loneliness of pattering rain

On an evening in Southern California.

Nyogen Senzaki

Commemoration of Bashō

November 3, 1938

Zen Temple, 727 1/1 E. First Street

Los Angeles

From Eloquent Silence: Nyogen Senzaki's Gateless Gate and Other Previously Unpublished Teachings and Letters, Somerville, Massachusetts: Wisdom Publications, 2008, page 327, shown below, with the author’s calligraphy.