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Basho ,  pseudonym of Matsuo Munefusa, is considered the master of the haiku form.  He prospered during the Edo period in Japan. His powerful life was limited to a short 50 years spanning 1644 – 1694.

In his youth Basho was a samurai. Embodied in the code of the samurai is the deep understanding and respect for nature and life.  As a samurai, life was only taken in a respectful way at the direction of the Emperor or other master. Basho served as a samurai in his youth, but at the age of 22 (1666), he devoted his life to writing poetry.  His shift of focus from warrior to artist provided a perfect outlet for his deep understanding and appreciation of life and nature.

The structure of his haiku reflects the simplicity of his meditative life. When he felt the need for solitude, he withdrew to his basho-an, a hut made of plantain leaves (basho) hence his pseudonym. Influenced by Zen Buddhism, he infused a mystical quality into much of his verse. Through his skill he attempted to express universal themes using simple natural images that spanned the scope of his personal universe.

He is revered as the greatest of Japanese poets for his sensitivity and profundity and is particularly noted for his book, “Oku-no-hosomichi“(Narrow Road to the Interior).[1]  His impact on the traditional styles of Japanese poetry is evident even today.

[1] http://www.randomviolins.org/~dwap/literati/renga/basho.htm excerpted and paraphrased.