Bashō: Two Hundred Haiku PDF Print E-mail

by Dr Tim Chilcott











matsukaze no / ochiba ka mizu no /oto suzushi

[pine-wind’s / falling-leaves? water’s / sound is-cool]



                                                are needles falling

                                                            as the wind blows through the pines?

                                                                    cool sound of water






nozarashi no / kokoro ni kaze no / shimu mi kana

[bones-exposed-in-a-field (acc.) / heart into wind’s / penetrate body]



                                                I think of bleached bones

                                                        in a field; wind pierces my

                                                                 body to the heart  







kumo kiri no / zanji hyakkei o / tsukushikeri

[cloud mist’s / short-time hundred-scenes (acc.) / exhaust]



                                                in the mists and cloud

                                                       for a moment a hundred scenes

                                                               brought to fulfilment






uma ni nete / zanmu tsuki tōshi / cha no keburi

[horse on sleep / lingering-dream moon distant / tea’s fire



                                                dozing on my horse,

                                                         dream lingering, distant moon,

                                                                 smoke from a tea fire  






misoka tsuki nashi / chitose no sugi o / daku arashi 1

[last-night-of-month moon is-not / thousand-year’s sugi (acc.) / hold windstorm]



                                    last night of the month, no moon…

                                             a thousand-year old cedar

                                                      caught in a windstorm






wuta yumi ya / biwa ni nagusamu / take no oku

[cotton bow! / lute by console / bamboo’s interior]



                                                cotton-beating bow,

                                                        as consoling as a lute

                                                                deep in the bamboos






tsuyu tokutoku / kokorimi ni ukiyo / susugabaya

[dew drip drip / trial as floating-world / would-that-I-could wash]



                                                dew dripping, dripping…

                                                        could I wash in it the dust

                                                                 of the floating world






yuki to yuki / koyoi sjiwasu no / meigetsu ka

[snow and snow / tonight twelfth-month’s / bright moon?]



                                                snow is upon snow…

                                                        can tonight be the twelfth month’s

                                                                 full and whitest moon?






Spending a day at the seashore


umi kurete / kamo no koe / honoka ni shiroshi2 

[sea darken / duck’s voice / faintly white]



                                                the sea is darkening…

                                                         now a wild duck’s call,

                                                                  faint and indistinct and white






On the road to Nara


haru nare ya / na mo naki yama no / usugasumi

[spring is! / name also is-not mountain’s / thin-mist]



                                                it’s spring now, yes spring!

                                                       above the nameless mountains

                                                               a faint haze and mist




1The first line of this haiku has seven, rather than five, syllables. This expansion is followed in the translation. 

2 Bashō’s original text varies the syllabic count from 5/7/5 to 5/5/7. This variation is copied in the translation.



Reprinted from the web-site ‘Tim Chilcott LITERARY TRANSLATIONS'


Until his retirement, Tim Chilcott was Dean of Arts and Humanities at the University of Chichester, England. He has maintained a lifelong interest in English Romantic literature, particularly the work of John Clare, about whom he has written extensively. His other major research interest is literary translation, and his website devoted to translation can be accessed at This currently comprises some forty major works of world literature, by over twenty different writers.