I sit here far from the River Rushi, having known many northern rivers not unlike that channel rushing by Basho, off on his narrow road to the deep north, and wonder how a child might be intentionally be left there, on the banks, behind and abandoned. There are only observations, my sister, and the Cadanians were very grounded in silent for a roof night.

The great Basho writes of this on the initiation of his long journey, how he shares all the food he has, questions the disregard of the mother and the father, then leaves that same child alone on cold banks of the rushing river, to raise his voice high to heaven, for Basho must pass along, and leave him ‘by what one might call the great will of heaven’, to write haiku about the golden beauty of isolated woods and mountains. But we have seen our way, as the situation appeared in variety of various strange conditions, and the results of the spirit of the king.

Therefore all, in this manner of the fair and unknown, I had read Basho many years ago, but not this rendition of travel sketches*, and I cannot get beyond page 52, the second page after the completion of the long introduction, in praise of…. And he can maintain his duty and clear and hear, though, he is honourable, and now she’ll undoubtedly hear it. But to myself, as I am sorry for myself for I know better, and I have already spoken to myself.

This is the spirit of Kahless in my heart. His many behaviours are sharp. This story waves upon the scene, telling them that if they had sobbed and, if they had been brave, then they could tell the story.

*The Narrow Road to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches, A translation of Basho’s Oku no Hosomichi. Yuasa, Nobuyuki (translator).

(I struggled with this assignment, to follow one of the suggestions (translations), and appreciate what these techniques can add. I will make use of them, time to time in various ways, I can see. This is a bit of something I wrote, translated through several languages, then finished with Klingon. I appreciate being exposed to so many good writers here. Respectfully.)

10 Comments

  1. Rogan

    John, it’s so good to see your writing again. I love this — it feels like good travel writing to me and in fact, I think I want to see you lean into that some more here. You’re acting as a kind of guide. Your first paragraph is especially tight (well done) and reads like poetry.

  2. David O'Connor

    John, you never cease to amaze me, Basho! Your knowledge and depth are astonishing. Although this piece, feels a touch clunkier than usual, the first two paragraphs are solid, seems to go off the rails on the therefore, goes meta without establishing where the original thread was headed… maybe Basho has slipped into the AI generator. Fun stuff, more Basho and your travels, please!

  3. Len Kuntz

    Hi John,

    That first paragraph is really a grabber, so intriguing with an abandoned child on a river bank (!) and this unusual language–“The Cadanians were very grounded in silent for a roof night.” To me, this piece feels like it wants to break out and be much longer. You’ve laid down some fantastic bits and bones to work with.

  4. Jonathan Cardew

    John,

    I loved entering the world of Basho in this story! What a superbly quiet and specific piece. Happy to hear you tried out translation–thrilled to learn that this story has been through the honorable Klingon language. For me, it’s something to dip into. A tool to freshen up language or tweak perspective.

    This is a great piece. The reference to the book is very effective, with specific pages and paragraphs, and this pivots the story to its close. Love the title, the word “Rushi.” Love the meta aspect of this, the not being able to get past page 52; this reminded me of a book one of my professors was going to write based on all the notes and bookmarks he’d inserted into a text, a response to those years later. I was really with this all the way!

    HOW ABOUTS:

    1. As someone mentioned in this thread, your story here could be fleshed out into a longer piece (and you have something very captivating, so I would read on and on).

    2. I loved the specifics in names: Cadanians, Rushi, Basho, Kahless. I think you could ramp this up by including more of these names from the original language, let us soak into something exotic.

    3. Change perspective. How about a revision or a different piece anchored from the perspective of Basho? Use haikus?

    VENUES:

    Since this has a historical bent, I thought you might appreciate this journal as a possible venue (or at least as fodder for further inspiration): https://flashbackfiction.com/ I love dipping into the past, and this journal is focused on flash history, so you don’t have to get too wet!

    Thanks so much for sharing this piece, John!

    –Jonathan

  5. Benjamin Niespodziany

    “But to myself, as I am sorry for myself for I know better, and I have already spoken to myself.

    This is the spirit of Kahless in my heart. His many behaviours are sharp. This story waves upon the scene, telling them that if they had sobbed and, if they had been brave, then they could tell the story.”

    This entire final part is really lovely. It feels like a meditative prayer and I loved being guided along.

  6. Robert Vaughan

    Hi John, wow. This is fascinating- sort of travelogue, and book reportage, and student/teacher, internal and external travel. Has a transportive, spiritual quality. Even your parenthesis, (which I think was meant for Jonathan and BG class), I sort of interpreted in a different sense- that the speaker of your piece was apologizing to his implied “master,” and that you could use this idea within a re-write? For aren’t we always subjugating, or seeking a master, or exploring the master/servant (Depeche Mode)? Aren’t we always learning, seeking new consciousness, awarenesses?

  7. Todd Clay Stuart

    John, there is a calmness to this that speaks to me. The voice and tone itself carry this. You could work on the rhythm a little bit to smooth out any speeds bumps, maybe read this aloud to yourself for rhythm issues. You’re going to have a winner here, either standalone or as part of something bigger. Nice work.

  8. Wilson Koewing

    John,

    Strong opening and closing here. I got a little bogged down or confused at times in the middle, so there may be some work to do, editing or sharpening the focus. But the shape is there. Curious to see where this goes.

    Wilson

  9. Martha Jackson Kaplan

    Hi John, I can tell from your writing on this one that you struggled, as you say, and unlike some of your other recent writings which flow beautifully. So this is a draft, that’s it. I love the first paragraph, and the second (though I suggest cutting “great” in front of Basho– he doesn’t need that– his name alone is enough).

    I see the struggle, as you say, in the third and fourth paragraphs. I think all they need is for you to look again and decide what is central, watch out for wordiness, and cut what one might call “the back story” – what you needed to say about you, but maybe isn’t as central to what the writing demands.

    This is a draft worth working on, has a great core.

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