Objective/subjective.

Another interesting quote from the haiku master Matsuo Basho is, ‘the problem with most poetry is that it is either subjective or objective’. At first this seems crazy. Surely it has to be one or the other? But, what he is getting at is the Buddhist idea that there is really no separation between the subject and object and this is what we are attempting to capture in a haiku. Subject and object appear as part of a seamless whole, connected with the entire universe. Let us look at the famous ‘Old Pond’ haiku.

Old pond,

Frog jumps in –

Water’s sound

I think this captures beautifully what he is talking about. There is no separation between the pond, the frog, the water or the observer. The observer is invisible in this description, just part of the moment, without any judgement or analysis.

In these following haiku all on the same theme, I have deliberately played with subjectivity/objectivity. Please let me know if you have any thoughts. Which do you prefer? Does a more connected haiku help to give you a full and direct experience of the moment, rather than a disconnected ‘me and it’ experience?

A white mist hovers,

I reach out to touch the edge –

To find there is none.

A white mist hovers,

I long to touch its soft edge –

But cannot find it (or But find it nowhere).

Mist over the field,

A child throws in a football –

To watch it vanish.

Just above the ground,

Painting all the spiders’ webs –

A white mist hovers.

A white mist hovers,

Two feet and a head appear –

The body shrouded.

Mist over the field,

A heron drops in to land –

Lost in the whiteness.

There is a fine mist,

Between the earth and sky –

That nothing can cut (or It cannot be cut)

The last one is a reference to the Zen master Dogen’s quote about the moon in the water which cannot be cut. This relates to our true connected nature hidden in our unawakened human nature.

Any comments would be truly welcomed. Thank you for reading.  _/\_

About Basho Barr

Inspired by the great Japanese Haiku master, Matsuo Basho, I try to capture a daily moment in a small but perfectly formed Haiku.
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2 Responses to Objective/subjective.

  1. I would love to know the original Japanese for “The trouble with most poetry is that it is either objective or subjective.” Do you know the original source?

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