The Narrow Road To The Deep North Analysis

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The Narrow Road to the Deep North is a collection of poems written by Bashō, one of the most famous Japanese poets. To understand the inner workings of his poems it is necessary to not only analyze one but to also examine the cultural themes present in Japanese culture and the poet’s life. Art is laced with the culture of its author. Therefore, examining classical Japanese poetry is impossible without understanding the prevalent themes of the time, one such motif is mono no aware (物の哀れ) or simply aware, it represents the aesthetic of a haibun. The term itself was coined by Motoori Norinaga in the eighteenth century, however, the concept has always been central to Japanese culture. In translation “aware” means sensitivity or sadness, while …show more content…
Many of Bashō’s poems are retellings of stories long past and their impact on him, such is the haibun written “On the 14th of Eighth Month,” conventionally known as September 27th, 1689. The prose retells the history of Tsuruga Harbor, about the Second Yugyo Shonin and his reclaiming of the bog. After the first line, it is evident that Bashō is detached from the narrative, the focus is primarily the impact of the place on him. This is especially evident in the last line of the poetic prose: “With the holiness of the shrine and the moon’s light pouring down through the trees, a deep sense of reverence seeped into my bones.” Bashō is influenced by the momentary beauty interlaced with the history of the place in front of him, and that is a perfect representation of aware. The bog, moon’s light, trees, this entire scene is fleeting and that is the secret of its allure -- that is the aware, the aesthetic of the haibun. The point of a haibun is to focus on the nature and history of a place and create a sensory impression of it. There is never a need to explain the story behind the shrine, it just exists. This view of poetry creates a unique experience for the reader, enveloped in this world of ephemeral beauty and reverence, seduced by the serene

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