Basho’s Phantom Dwelling

In the daytime, I’m once in a while diverted by people who stop to visit.  The old man who takes care of the shrine or the men from the village come and tell me about the wild boar who’s been eating the rice plants, the rabbits that are getting at the bean patches, tales of farm matters that are all quite new to me. And when the sun has begun to sink behind the rim of the hills, I sit quietly in the evening waiting for the moon so I may have my shadow for company, or light a lamp and discuss right and wrong with my silhouette. But when all has been said, I’m not really the kind who is so completely enamored of solitude that he must hide every trace of himself away in the mountains and wilds.  Its just that, troubled by frequent illness and weary of dealing with people, I’ve come to dislike society.  Again and again I think of the mistakes I’ve made in my clumsiness over the course of the years.  There was a time when I envied those who had government offices or impressive domains and on another occasion I considered entering the precincts of the Buddha and teaching rooms of the patriarchs.  Instead, I’ve worn out my body in journeys that are as aimless as the winds and clouds and expend my feelings on flowers and birds. But somehow I’ve been able to make a living this way and so in the end, unskilled and talentless as I am, I give myself wholly to this one concern, poetry.  Po Chu-i worked so hard at it that he almost ruined his five vital organs and Tu Fu grew lean and emaciated because of it.  As far as intelligence or the quality of our writings go, I can never compare to such men.  An yet we all in the end live, do we not, in a phantom dwelling?  But enough, I’m off to bed.



Charles Bukowski’s response when asked the question, Don’t you hate people?  Bukowski replied, “No I don’t hate people.  I just feel better when they’re not around.”  This makes me think he was partially reincarnated or was at least channeling Basho..

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