“Behind the Falls” by Matsuo Bashō

On May 20, 1689, a few weeks before the beginning of the three-month time of seclusion Buddhist monks were required to observe each summer, the Japanese poet Bashō climbed into the mountains to visit Urami Falls. Passing behind the cascade, he tarried a while in a cave, looking out at the world through the curtain of water. Feeling momentarily like an ascetic, he composed the following haiku:

For just a moment
I’m cloistered behind the falls—
the start of summer.

—Translated by David Bowles, March 2015


Japanese original

Shibaraku wa
taki ni komoru ya
ge no hajime.

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