Shijo Surimono with fireflies and grasses. Japanese woodcut.
As an act of Buddhist kindness, Basho once ingeniously reversed a cruel haiku made up by his witty disciple.
Kikaku had said: ‘A red firefly / Tear off its wings / A pepper.’
Basho substituted: ‘A pepper / Give it wings / A red firefly.’
From André Breton, Ascendant Sign, 1942.