I’m just a mountain dweller, sleepy by nature, who has returned his footsteps to the steep slopes and sits here in the empty hills catching lice and smashing them.
Bashō, sickening to death, lousy,
worn out from walking the country
and sleeping in flea-ridden dorms,
Bashō, weary of society, weary
of dealing with people,
Bashō, closer to fifty
sat in a hut by the roadway
and gave himself entirely
to poetry (and the smashing of lice)
The epigraph is from “The Hut of the Phantom Dwelling”, translated by Burton Watson, in The Essential Haiku, edited by Robert Hass, New York: HarperCollins, 1994, pp. 55-58. The quoted passage is on p. 57.