A good poet is someone who can make a verse interesting.
A master is someone whose verse does not sound interesting
but has a flavor deep inside.
A still higher stage is when a poet has reached the utmost of the art
and his poem presents
neither color nor fragrance.
Only at that stage one can be accredited
as having obtained
the quintessence of haikai.
Do not expect the final answer,
It is not given in this life.
But the ear of the poet clearly catches
The distant thunder on his road.
He has bent his head attentively,
Eagerly, he takes it in, fine-strung, he waits,
And already he can hear it:
It flowers, it basks in bliss, it grows….
And nearer yet, the premonition stronger,
But, Ah! The expectation is unbearable…
And the seer falls, struck dumb,
Hearing the thunder close upon the road.
You rained down poems on the whole world
like a dark monsoon-cloud,
but red flames leaping toward heaven
burn the lips that once sang
of an arrow
that bites the dust.
They brought me word of your death,
and I wept for you remembering
how often we watched the sun
setting as we talked.
Dear Halikarnassian friend,
you lie elsewhere now
and are mere ashes;
yet your songs—your nightingales—will live,
and never will the underworld,
touch them with its deadly hand.