Matsuo Basho is a poet that has a great level of notoriety among the Japanese people.
As a matter of fact, I have not yet met a Japanese person whom does not know of him and many can recite his work.
He was a poet in the Edo era a transformative time that would see japan separated from the outside world due to the period of isolation.
Born 1644 and died 1694 in between he left a legacy of poetic work that inspires poets the world over. He is largely heralded as the father of Haiku.
A Haiku is a poem that uses 5 syllables on the first line and 7 syllables on the second finishing with 5 lines on the final third line.
The Haiku is often structured around nature and/or the human experience.
The Matsuo family was of samurai descent, but Basho preferred the finer arts and developed several schools of writing in Japan.
In 1793 Basho was deified by the Shinto bureaucracy and for a time criticising his work was literally blasphemy.
The Shinto process of deification is part of the ancestor worship culture and it allows those who have passed on to be selected and promoted to god status.
They are often then awarded a shrine in memorial to their life and achievements.
Basho also heralded a game of freestyle poetry to be played whilst enjoying a refreshing alcoholic beverage.
This is known as renga or renku and is still played by passionate poets in Japan to this day. It is essentially that you take it turn by turn to do a line for 2 tankas.
A tanka is a haiku with two extra lines of 7 syllables each.
So, he would fritter away the hours enjoying renku/renga linking verses in a freestyle manner.
He was so popular that he essentially had disciples that listened and partook in his renku sessions.
He began life as a teacher and soon developed a passion for travel and wandered the land of Japan in search of inspiration.
A free minded man with a swathe of talent that took Japan by storm and is still revered for his poetic prowess to this very day.
Collab Idea: Renku If you are interested the structure is the same as a tanka. 5-7-5-7-7 So, comment below a line with either 5 or 7 syllables making effort to maintain the topic of the previous line. And lets pay homage to this ancient Japanese poetic tradition.