What, did the melon just run a race through the mud? I like the way Basho makes objects subjective, giving them feeling and personhood. When you walk with Basho through his very simple world it comes alive. Nature is alive and emotional. We are conditioned to see nature as objects to be controlled, used or simply eaten. Yet here a simple melon has the subjective feelings of us. The melon feels cool. I feel a melon. A melon doesn’t feel. But here the boundary between the melon as object and me as subject is blurred.
Japans nature religion is Shinto, which is pantheistic. Nature is alive and full of spirit, like in Avatar’s Pandora. Walking through the world through the eyes of Basho makes me feel like I’m on Pandora as Jake Sully seeing nature for the first time.
In this poem there is a shift from the objective qualities of wet dew and mud, adjectives used to describe a melon as an object. One could say that the melon has dew and mud on it. But the melon itself is dead, is just a dead thing to me. But then in the third line the perspective shifts and the melon looks especially cool. The melon is feeling cool. Cool is not an adjective with which one describes an dead thing. Cool is what you feel. Basho feels nature as himself.