28 Basho poems on the experience of drinking and being drunk
14 Teahouse second story high tower of sake Ordinary buildings at this time had only one story, so Basho is unaccustomed to being on a second story. He feels “high” up here, which he equates to the high from drinking sake. He would be so wasted atop the Empire State Building. Drunk, on the shoulders of people he leans – The party today we had so much fun, granddad’s dance The old guy careens from one person’s shoulder to another person’s shoulder, doing what he calls a “dance”, but is more foolishness than skill. Basho focuses on the young person who enjoys watching grandfather’s drunken excuse for a dance. On a picture of someone drinking alone, I write Neither moon nor blossoms, drinking sake alone Either the moon or blossoms would make him feel okay in life, but without both of them, and having no friend but alcohol, is a great sadness.
15 Basho wrote a haibun about his good friend Etsujin: He works two days and enjoys himself for two, works three days and has a good time for three. By nature he likes sake and when he’s drunk, he sings of the Heike. This is my friend. The lively image of Etsujin drunk and singing the tragic ballads of the fall of the 12 th century Heike clan concludes in the brief “This is my friend.” Basho and Etsujin were riding on the shore of Atsumi Peninsula south of Nagoya when Basho conceived this haiku as if speaking to Etsujin now Snow and sand so fall off the horse! drunk on sake It’s okay; there’s only snow and sand down there. Boy! Were they ever soused Eager for snow the faces of wine lovers lightning flashes Basho takes a snapshot of his friends in the dark, with lightning as the flash bulb. As so often in his poetry, he focuses on faces -- faces which are “eager.” Although the night is freezing and stormy, they are eager to experience snow and night and poetry and friendship. In What Children Do are a few verses in which Basho portrays the eagerness of children for snow. Here the adults give up the heaviness of adult life, and become “eager” as a child because of the light and high feeling sake gives inside.