A Study on Reconstruction of Movement and Space in Bashō's Haiku: Movement and Space on Horse

Hyunyoung Lee,
Jooyoung Kim

DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2022.003805
Published Date: Feb 28, 2022


To write a poem is to unlock an immaterial space to invite and inhabit varied events and people from the material space. Japanese haiku is a fixed-verse poetry with a 5-7-5 string of sound units. Interestingly, Matsuo Bashō (松尾芭蕉: 1644-1694), the best-known Japanese haiku poet, succeeds in unfolding a diversity of spatialities through this 17-syllable genre. How could Bashō use only 17 syllables to open complicated spatialities in his haiku? To do this, Bashō implants a series of mobile variables into his haiku. Horse, as a figure constantly interacting with Bashō in the journey, stands out from other living beings, such as frog or even hibiscus. A horse can be viewed as a conscious vehicle to serve its human master’s mobility. Although human beings spare no effort in taming a horse to move like a nonliving machine, a horse cannot function normally without living consciousness. In this manner, a horse falls into an in-between being, neither a living being with independent will nor a nonliving machine without consciousness. Such an in-between existence enables the horse to survive the social hierarchy of mobility between humans and animals, between animals and animals, and between humans and humans (Cresswell 26). While Bashō’s time prefers a relatively fixed “hierarchy of mobility” (26) in reality, Bashō’s haiku reconstruct a dynamic “hierarchy of mobility” in the poetic cyberspace (26). Such a dynamic mobile hierarchy not just gives the horse a taste of high mobility, but marks a balanced harmony for Bashō’s haiku. This thesis basically focuses on the image of the horse to study the reconstruction of space and movement within Bashō’s haiku.


Matsuo Bashō, haiku, horse, space, hierarchy of mobility, movement

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

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Yale NUS College (Singapore)

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University of California, Davis (US)

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Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

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Philippines Studies Center (US)

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Barnard College (US)
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Columbia University (US)

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Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)