Today, chickadees, I think I will give you some of Bashō's thoughts on poetry:
Don't follow in the footsteps of the old poets, seek what they sought.
The basis of art is change in the universe. What's still has a changeless form. Moving things change and because we cannot put a stop to time, it continues unarrested. To stop a thing would be to halve a sight or sound in our heart. Cherry blossoms whirl, leaves fall, and the wind flits them both along the ground. We cannot arrest with our eyes or ears what lies in such things. Were we to gain mastery over them, we would find that the life of each thing had vanished without a trace.
The secret of poetry lies in treading the middle path between the reality and the vacuity of the world.
Is there any good in saying everything?
The bones of haikai are plainness and oddness.
a note on haikai, from a resource at Columbia University: "Haiku evolved from the haikai, linked verse, that was written in the Tokugawa period. Every haikai begins with an opening verse of seventeen syllables. This opening verse was called a hokku. It was written in three lines of 5, then 7, then 5 syllables to make the total of 17 syllables. Bashô took this opening verse, the hokku, and refined it to become what is now known as the haiku."
I should now reveal that my interest in haiku has been reawakened in the past four or five months by this book The Essential Haiku : Versions of Bashō, Buson, & Issa, edited by Robert Hass. I used to write haiku when bored on bus rides - once wrote twenty or so interlinking on a long Greyhound ride from Pittsburgh to Syracuse. It's been wonderful to slowly explore & learn more about the history & traditional forms... slowly, slowly, slowly.