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In a thoughtful and perceptive introduction, Stryk sets the stage for an appreciation of what Basho's poetry has to offer, sketching his life, his times, his spirit. For most of his life Basho was a recluse. He lived on the outskirts of Edo (Tokyo) in a hut shaded by an exotic banana tree (the Basho). When he traveled, he relied entirely on the hospitality of temples and fellow poets. His poems were strongly influenced by the Zen sect of Buddhism and its ideals of lightness, detachment, and appreciation of the commonplace. Basho aspired to and achieved unity of life and art, his poems become inseparable from nature.