Midway on the way he was bound upon, Bashō was seized by a restless spirit that coaxed him into the heartland, where poetry and spirituality become one, and where he could follow the footfall of the ancients through Japan's poetic spaces. He yielded to the seductive sound of pond ripples lapping the mysterious edge of the dreadful sphere of Pascal.
Well over three hundred years after Dante, Bashō looked to wanderer-priest Saigyō to be the Virgil who would inspire him through the narrow and difficult roads that wound ahead and within. Landscapes, through which he wandered, became infused with collective memory and complex emotions encompassing the profane right through to the sacred, and culminating in true vision as he beheld Sado Island.
Some years later, he wrote several autumn haiku infused with a despair born of an overwhelming loneliness. Falling ill on his final journey, his spirit feverishly searched a desolate limbo for what may have been his Beatrice and the love which moves the sun and the other stars.
The need to hear the sound beyond stillness drives all our journeying, and is its fulfilment.
my lungs widen