Japanese poetry and the night sky

Matsuo Bashō is a master at this art. This particular haiku, one of my favourites, he wrote on his way to Sado Island on a spring trip he took in rural Japan in 1689 to look for inspiration, and published in his masterpiece, The Narrow Road to the Interior. Enjoy.

荒海や 佐渡によこたふ 天の河

The rough sea.

Stretching out towards Sado Island,

the Milky Way.

There has always been a strong connection between art and science, especially in astronomy. Across all cultures, people have always looked at, talked about, written, drawn & painted the night sky. It is a natural heritage we all share, which means astronomy-related art can be enjoyed by all.

Some days ago I came across writings from Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō, whom I’ve known for some years now. Some of you might know him as the inventor of the Japanese form of poetry named haiku. Simple and elegant, haikus are just three lines long and find inspiration in Nature, often mentioning seasons, passing beauty and other fleeting moments, and are meant to leave you thinking or melancholic. Westerners are generally used to longer & more descriptive forms of poetry, so the best way to enjoy them is to let our imagination form an image to complete the poem.


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