Significance of travel in Basho's Narrow Road Through the Backcountry

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Questing for Connections to the Past Waldo Ralph Emerson said "Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not." In Bashō's Narrow Road through the Backcountry, exactly this sentiment is realized in the literary capture of North Japan's natural beauties on his journey for poetic enlightenment and motivation. This work is the story of the journey that Bashō began near the end of his life in order to attain inspiration for writing poetry, specifically in haiku-type forms. Bashō's chosen path mirrored that of Saigyō, a well respected monk and poet, which ran through the locations of residence and inspiration of various other notable Japanese poets and writers. The travel tale has long been…show more content…
All of these sites possess their own feeling and give Bashō unique motivations. Some of the places provide morose poetic inspiration, for which Bashō is commonly known, while others cause the poet to drift away from his common tone and write in a much more upbeat manner; a testament to the true power of the natural beauty of Japan and impact of historical poets on Bashō. This variety calls to the different inspirations which Bashō was seeking. Instead of maintaining a stagnant style, as many of the less-travelled poets would have, Bashō's journey allows him to not only write about sights that he would have never otherwise experienced, but it also allows him to connect with other writing styles that he ordinarily may not have explored, causing a stark development of his own writing style.
A common thread in all of Bashō's inspirational writers, as pointed out by Haruo Shirane in the essay "Double Voices and Bashō's Haikai" in Kerkham's Matsuo Bashō's Poetic Spaces: Exploring Haikai Intersections, is that all of these writers are considered to be reclusive poets. Though the Genji ("the famous lovers"), Ariwara no Narihira and Ono no Komachi were all well

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