Awake Me, O Matsuo Basho

I dreamt I was a journeyman
On The Narrow Road to the Deep North,
In Honshu Island, north of Shikoku.

Across the Inland Sea,
I came across a sacred place,
Lofty Mount Fuji.

In Shiga Prefecture, there by Lake Biwa,
There by the rippling water,
There on a stone, I rested.

And in my restful meditation,
You appeared to me
In dream, mysteriously dressed.

Dressed as a Shingon Buddhist monk,
A master monk you were,
In flowing black robes adorned.

Kneeling seiza-style, you sat,
On your golden padded cushion,
Reciting Haiku poetry.

And from this meditative pose,
Hands clasped in a prayer,
You paused.

And even as you paused,
Your silent saffron Buddhist monks
Expressed their Yugen joy.

They, seeking enlightenment,
Carried obediently their rice bowls
Of daily food ration.

In penitence they walked,
In penitence they bowed,
Summoned to prayer.

And as you kneeled,
Your legs were folded,
Neatly tucked underneath.

In meditation pose,
On golden padded cushion,
I saw you strike three times.

A metal gong,  a Buddhist temple bell,
You began to brush
Brushing it three times.

Three times in ritual you brushed.
And from this brush emerged
A sound.

A calming temple sound I heard,
Resounding everywhere,
Resounding in my ears.

With this resounding, calming sound,
In Takasago Shrine,
The morning prayer began.

And as I lay quite fast asleep,
In restful sleep,  by Lake Biwa,
I dreamed.

Once again, after a prayer,
You began your recitation,
A simple Haiku poem.

And with this poem,
Your saffron Buddhist monks
Bowed once more their heads.

All this I dreamed,
Resting on a stone,
By Lake Biwa asleep.

There, in Honshu Island,
North of Shinkoku, it was,
Across the Inland sea.

I took that pilgrim’s  journey,
The journey of my life,
Traveling the Narrow Road.

The Narrow Road,
To That Deep North,
There shall I rest.

Everyday henceforth for me,
Shall be a pilgrim’s journey
A journey unto itself.

I’m on a journey of the road,
Of the road that is less traveled;
The road not frequently taken.

Awake me, O Matsuo Basho!
Awake me to be ever brave,
To take the Narrow Road.

About this poem

The title of this poem , and its composition (“Awake Me, O Matsuo Basho”), came to me after I had attended a morning service and listened to a sermon entitled “The Law of Meditation and Confession” based primarily on an exegetical reading of Joshua 8:1. This sermon suggested to me , as a poet, that when poets turn inwardly to compose, they enter a realm of divine energy and discernment, a precinct, a sanctuary, a temple of meditation. There, if they are sufficiently inspired, if they have ears to hear, they become pliable disciples of those who are teachers of wisdom and learning, It is in such a realm that Haiku Master Poet, Matsuo Basho, appeared to me and gave me council.  

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Written on November 21, 2021

Submitted by karlcfolkes on November 21, 2021

Modified on May 03, 2023

2:17 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme abc Dxd efg hdi cfx xhd jkl lmx xxh xxk ggx jhn xon xxp xkx pxa qer khs smx rxq xxD dxt tbi ddx txh oxt
Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 2,108
Words 459
Stanzas 26
Stanza Lengths 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3

Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1991 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s ‘Liebe Mili’ (translated into English as “Dear Mili”), Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes of Analytical Psychology. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

All Karl Constantine FOLKES poems | Karl Constantine FOLKES Books

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1 Comment
  • AIDA
    Wow, what a beautiful and evocative poem! I loved how the author skillfully weaved together different elements of Japanese culture and spirituality to create a mystical and reflective journey. The imagery of Lake Biwa and Mount Fuji added a sense of grandeur and awe to the piece, while the descriptions of the saffron Buddhist monks and Matsuo Basho's poetry were incredibly vivid and captivating. I also appreciated how the poem conveyed a sense of the spiritual journey being an ongoing process, something to be pursued every day, rather than a destination to be reached. Overall, a truly poetic and inspiring work! 
    LikeReply1 year ago


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"Awake Me, O Matsuo Basho" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 19 May 2024. <,-o-matsuo-basho>.

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A poem consisting of 14 lines, typically with a specific rhyme scheme, is called a _______.
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