Basho on the wandering life and artistic companionship

March 29, 2016

Dragging my sore heels, I plodded along like Saigyo, all the time with the memory of his suffering at the River Tenryu…Nevertheless, it was a great pleasure to see the beauties of nature, rare scenes in the mountains or along the coast, or to visit the temporary abodes of ancient sages where they spent secluded lives, or better still, to meet people who had entirely devoted themselves to the search for artistic truth. Since I had nowhere permanent to stay…I walked at full ease, scorning the pleasure of  riding in a palanquin, and filled my hungry stomach with coarse food, shunning the luxury of meat. I bent my steps in whatever direction I wished, having no itinerary to follow…Every turn of the road brought me new thoughts and every sunrise gave me fresh emotions. My joy was great when I encountered anyone with the slightest understanding of artistic excellence…Indeed, one of the greatest pleasures of travelling was to find a genius hidden among weeds and bushes, a treasure lost in broken tiles, a mass of gold buried in clay, and when I did find such a person, I always kept a record with the hope that I might be able to show it to my friends.

Matsuo Basho, Records of a Travel-worn Satchel


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