Basho, “Another year gone”

Another year gone (trans. Robert Hass)
Matsuo Basho

Another year gone –
hat in my hand,
sandals on my feet.

Comment:

This continues the theme of the wanderer from “Many nights on the road.” At first glance, it does not seem terribly different. The wanderer is exhausted and may still be walking. A further implication: the aimlessness of this particular pilgrim.

But maybe “on the road” in the previous poem sets a different scene from the “my” in question here. We spent much time in the previous discussion on the wanderer’s journey – on his incompleteness, his impossible task. Here in this poem we can imagine him a visitor, in front of the door. The emphasis may be on the forced return to a conventional way of being, if only for a few moments. One needs to eat, sleep, talk to people (and not consider muttering at stray cats social interaction). I wonder if “another year gone” is the speaker’s wondering whether he has rejected conventionality, or if it has rejected him.

References

The Essential Haiku. ed. Robert Hass. New York: HarperCollins, 1944.

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