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この道や、行く人なしに、秋の暮れ。

松尾芭蕉(まつおばしょう)

Matsuo Basho

この道(みち)や、行(い)く人(ひと)なしに、秋(あき)の暮(く)れ。

kono michi ya, iku hito nashi ni, aki no kure.On this Road / Where Nobody Else Travels / Autumn Nightfall.

This Haiku explores the loneliness of travel.

Key Haiku Terms

季語 kigo seasonal words – Within the poem, at least one word or phrase should symbolize one of the four seasons. 

切れ字 kireji cutting words – These are small words that often function as a placeholder so the verse has the right number of moras.  They also function to give a certain emotional or sentimental flavor to the poem.

この道(みち)や、行(い)く人(ひと)なしに、秋(あき)の暮(く)れ。

On this Road / Where Nobody Else Travels / Autumn Nightfall.

このROMAJI: kono ENGLISH: thiskono means “this” and is always followed by a noun. As a standalone “this” use kore.

この道(みち)ROMAJI: kono michi

 ENGLISH: this road The kanji for michi is also pronounced dou and is the same dou as in juudou (judo) and aikidou (aikido).

この道(みち)やROMAJI: kono michi ya ENGLISH: oh, this road ya is a cutting word (kireji) setting the haiku rhythm.  Although it doesn’t have a definite meaning, “oh” might be appropriate here.

この道(みち)や、行(い)くROMAJI: kono michi ya, iku ENGLISH: oh, this road / to go iku is the dictionary or plain form of the verb “to go.”

この道(みち)や、行(い)く人(ひと)ROMAJI: kono michi ya, iku hito ENGLISH: oh, this road / going person iku hito is shortened from michi wo iku hito – a person who goes on the road

この道(みち)や、行(い)く人(ひと)なしROMAJI: kono michi ya, iku hito nashi ENGLISH: oh, this road / no one going nashi – “(there) is not ~”

この道(みち)や、行(い)く人(ひと)なしにROMAJI: kono michi ya, iku hito nashi ni ENGLISH: oh, this road / no one going nashi ni – without

この道(みち)や、行(い)く人(ひと)なしに、秋(あき)ROMAJI: kono michi ya, iku hito nashi ni, aki ENGLISH: oh, this road / no one going / autumn fuyu – Winter; haru – Spring; natsu – Summer; aki – Fall

この道(みち)や、行(い)く人(ひと)なしに、秋(あき)のROMAJI: kono michi ya, iku hito nashi ni, aki no ENGLISH: oh, this road / no one going / autumn’s no is the particle showing possession like the apostrophe s: ‘s (autumn’s nightfall)

この道(みち)や、行(い)く人(ひと)なしに、秋(あき)の暮(く)れ。ROMAJI: kono michi ya, iku hito nashi ni, aki no kure. ENGLISH: On this road / where nobody else travels / autumn nightfall.

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) is undoubtedly the most famous of the classical haiku poets. His mastery of haiku and his wanderings around Japan are attested by the many monuments with his poems.  His most famous collection of poems and writings is called, “Oku no Hosomichi.”  It was written while on a long journey in Edo Japan in the spring of 1689.  Today many people trace his footsteps for themselves. 

More Haiku by Matsuo Basho

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