Peter Clarke (1929 - )
Basho


mixed media
50 x 35cm

In the summer of 1684 the Japanese poet Matsuo
Basho (1644 - 1694) started off on the first of his journeys
of pilgrimage. Travel in the Japan of his day
had to be made under very precarious conditions.
Preceding his journey Basho had been divesting himself
of his earthly attachments one by one. But certain
items regarded as essential had to be carried on his
back, his raincoat, an overcoat, an ink stone, a brush,
writing paper, medicine, a lunch basket. He stated that
for him these constituted quite a load.
Through the following years he went on several journeys
through Japan. The result of these trips was the public-
cation of a collection of travel sketches called THE
NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH.
Perhaps his fan was the lightest object carried on his journeys.
At one stage of his travels he composed a poem
                  Farewell, my old fan
                  Having scribbled on it
                  What could I do but tear it
                  at the end of summer?


2005 Michael Stevenson. All rights reserved.