28 Basho poems on the experience of drinking and being drunk
At Dragongate Falls in the mountains near Yoshino; the name suggests China and the Chinese poet Li Po famous for his love of both waterfalls and wine. 6 From Dragongate blossoms are my souvenirs to wine lovers The cherry blossoms are so lovely that Basho sends them in spirit to his friends in Edo, as well as back to Li Po in the 9 th Century, and also to you drinking – or whatever -- today. Basho sees friendship transcending the barriers of space and time. Drink it up we’ll have a blossom-vase gallon jug A gallon jug is the equivalent of two large modern sake bottles. That’s a lot of wine for the gang to drink, but, hey, the empty will make a great vase for some branches from this tree. Hangovers for the duration of cherry blossoms Cherry blossoms, to the eternal grief of the Japanese, only last on their branches for one week of whoopee. Spring breeze wakens me from sake reverie
7 Fresh and green the tranquility of a rock that never moves, Drinking then sleeping here on this bridge The chilly weather of early spring has passed, the day is warm and comfortable, and the plant world green and alive. Basho recognizes that the “tranquility of a rock that never moves” is a drunken or stoned perception, so he gives that perception a location: on a bridge looking down at the stream, focusing on one particular rock that stays still while all that water goes rushing by; he watches for a while, drinks or smokes, falls asleep, wakes up to take another hit and watch some more. Tomorrow to the enemy our heads shall be sent I have Kosanda hold the sake flask while I sing one song Tomorrow is the great battle and we are outnumbered – so our heads will be wrapped in cloth and sent to them At banquet we never pour sake for ourselves; always someone pours from the flask into my cup. The warrior Kosanda is my retainer, and I subtly gesture to him to hold the flask – a suggestion of how deeply I trust him, how strong is our common vow to die for each other and our side -- and to pour for me as soon as I finish my song – which will bemy final song in this life.