“The Scarecrow” by Bonchō

Nozawa Bonchō was born in the city of Kanazawa in Japan’s Ishikawa Prefecture. Though he worked most of his life as a doctor in Kyoto, Bonchō never made much money. He became one of Matsuo Bashō’s foremost disciples, which saved him when he was convicted of smuggling: due to his reputation as a poet, he was merely exiled instead of having his nose cut off. His work is evocative of his teacher: I particularly like the suspense of the following haiku.

Such an eerie sound—
the scarecrow has fallen down
by itself, I hope…

—Translated by David Bowles, April 2015

Original Japanese

mono no oto
hitori taoruru
kakashi kana


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