Professor Loren Hoekzema
17 February 2015
Nature in Literature: Basho and Voltaire
Nature plays a huge role in many pieces of literature, but especially Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North and Voltaire’s Candide. There is a major difference between the two forms of literature and how nature is incorporated into each. This Japanese form of literature has a much lighter tone than that of the European style of literature. You can see a calmer, more relaxed intention into the nature that is in Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North. On page 413 in Basho’s piece, it says “As the year gradually came to an end and spring arrived, filling the sky with mist, I longed to cross the Shirakawa Barrier, the most revered of poetic places.” From this section, you can see that Basho gets his inspiration for his literature and poetry from the places that he travels, and this resulted in his linked-verse sequence. Even though Basho had a long, tough journey of travels; the nature takes his breath away. On page 416 of Narrow Road to the Deep North, it says “my body and spirit were tired from the pain of the long journey; my heart overwhelmed by the landscape.” This statement shows that regardless of the struggles, he could find a poetic sense in everything he went through. In Narrow Road to the Deep North, Basho also found religion to accompany the bright nature in his literature of his travels. On page 418, Basho writes, “the green of pine is dark and dense, the branches and leaves bent by the salty breeze—as if they were deliberately twisted. A soft, tranquil landscape, like a beautiful lady powdering her face. Did the god of the mountain create this long ago, in the age of the gods? Is this the work of the Creator?” The landscape was so beautiful to Basho, that he couldn’t figure out how it came about to be what it was. He questioned if the Gods had created it. From the passages, you can tell that Basho found much beauty in nature on his...
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