Rucksack Poetry

How haiku fond a home in America

Andrew Schelling

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The old pond
a frog jumps in—
kerplunk!


Matsuo Basho’s haiku about the frog and the old pond has become so deeply scored in the popular imagination that it seems to have distilled into pure image. The seventeenth-century poet Basho, dressed in mud-spattered robes, wandering rugged mountain landscapes, or sequestered in a tiny hut in the rain on the outskirts of town, has become almost as vivid a figure of international folklore as of poetry. It was under his influence that haiku’s reputation emerged as a poetry humble in subject, unfriendly to pretension, and devoted to Buddhist-inspired insights into the natural world—and the sphere of human nature.

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