Basho's thoughts on...
• What Children Do: Basho Honors the Young
• Introduction to this site
• The Human Story:
• Praise for Women
• Love and Sex in Basho
• Children and Teens
• Humanity and Friendship
• On Translating Basho
• Basho Himself
• Poetry and Music
• The Physical Body
• Food, Drink, and Fire
• Animals in Basho
• Space and Time
• Letters Year by Year
• Bilingual Basho 日本語も
• 芭蕉について日本語の論文
• Basho Renku, 芭蕉連句
• Women in Basho
• BAMHAY (Basho Amazes Me! How About You?)
• New Articles


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

The only substantial
collection in English
of Basho's renku, tanka,
letters and spoken word
along with his haiku, travel
journals, and essays.

The only poet in old-time
literature who paid attention with praise
to ordinary women, children, and teenagers
in hundreds of poems

Hundreds upon hundreds of Basho works
(mostly renku)about women, children,
teenagers, friendship, compassion, love.

These are resources we can use to better
understand ourselves and humanity.

Interesting and heartfelt
(not scholarly and boring)
for anyone concerned with
humanity.


“An astonishing range of
social subject matter and
compassionate intuition”


"The primordial power
of the feminine emanating
from Basho's poetry"


Hopeful, life-affirming
messages from one of
the greatest minds ever.

Through his letters,
we travel through his mind
and discover Basho's
gentleness and humanity.

I plead for your help in
finding a person or group
to take over my 3000 pages of Basho material,
to edit and improve the material, to receive 100%
of royalties, to spread Basho’s wisdom worldwide
and preserve for future generations.

Quotations from Basho Prose


The days and months are
guests passing through eternity.
The years that go by
also are travelers.



The mountains in silence
nurture the spirit;
the water with movement
calms the emotions.


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


Seek not the traces
of the ancients;
seek rather the
places they sought.



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


"The attachment to Oldness
is the very worst disease
a poet can have."


“The skillful have a disease;
let a three-foot child
get the poem"


"Be sick and tired
of yesterday’s self."


"This is the path of a fresh
lively taste with aliveness
in both heart and words."
.

"In poetry is a realm
which cannot be taught.
You must pass through it
yourself. Some poets have made
no effort to pass through, merely
counting things and trying
to remember them.
There was no passing
through the things."


"In verses of other poets,
there is too much making
and the heart’s
immediacy is lost.
What is made from
the heart is good;
the product of words
shall not be preferred."


"We can live without poetry,
yet without harmonizing
with the world’s feeling
and passing not through
human feeling, a person
cannot be fulfilled. Also,
without good friends,
this would be difficult."


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


"Many of my followers
write haiku equal to mine,
however in renku is the
bone marrow of this old man."


"Your following stanza
should suit the previous one as an expression
of the same heart's connection."


"Link verses the way
children play."


"Make renku
ride the Energy.
Get the timing wrong,
you ruin the rhythm."


"The physical form
first of all must be graceful
then a musical quality
makes a superior verse."

"As the years passed
by to half a century.
asleep I hovered
among morning clouds
and evening dusk,
awake I was astonished
at the voices of mountain
streams and wild birds."


“These flies sure enjoy
having an unexpected
sick person.”



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


On Life's journey
plowing a small field
going and returning


Child of poverty
hulling rice, pauses to
look at the moon


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

With her needle
in autumn she manages
to make ends meet
Daughter playing koto
reaches age seven


After the years
of grieving. . . finally
past eighteen
Day and night dreams of
Father in that battle


Now to this brothel
my body has been sold
Can I trust you
with a letter I wrote,
mirror polisher?


Only my face
by rice-seedling mud
is not soiled
Breastfeeding on my lap
what dreams do you see?



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com

 



Home  >  Topics  >  Introduction to this site  >  A-06


What Children Do: Basho Honors the Young

Introduction

Legend:
Words of Basho in bold
Words of other poets not bold

 

A collection of child-centered renku, haiku, tanka and prose by Basho, revealing his consciousness of What Children Do.  Let children know what Basho wrote about children

 

 

Robbins, Jeff 1952 –

Sakata, Shoko, 1971 --

What Children Do: Young and Alive with Basho

Includes bibliography and Subject Guide for Child Studies.

1. Child development 2 Infancy 3 Small children 4. Adolescence 5. Japanese society 6. Japanese literature 7. Haiku 8. Essays 9. Letters 10. Anthropology 11. Matsuo Basho (1644-94)

Cover illustration drawn in crayons by a third-grade boy, Sakamoto Taiyo,in Iga, Basho’shometown, 2009

 

This volume is dedicated to the children and teens reading it

May you share Basho with your children and grandchildren

 

 

Father and Son

Mary Cassatt

 

That my face
resembles my mother’s
fascinates

Biology lessons from Cassatt and Basho.

 

Contents

Introduction 9

Translations and Commentaries 12

What Age Child is the Book For? 14

What are Haiku? 15

Lightness = Newness 16

Links of Childhoood and Adolescence 18

Children in Basho prose 20

Letters about children 21

Basho speaks 22

Brief Notes to the Reader 24

Acknowledgements 27

Little Ninja Prologue 31

7

The Collection

Chapter One -- The Poet of Children

Chapter Two -- Being a Baby

Chapter Three -- Age 3 to 7

Chapter Four -- Age 7 to 12

Chapter Five -- Teenagers

Chapter Six -- Prose, Letters, Spoken Words about Children

Chapter Seven -- Journey with Grandnephew

Chapter Eight -- Blessings Unto Kasane

Chapter Nine -- Learning to Read with Basho

Chapter Ten --

Appendices

Syllables, Beats, and Words

Children in Japan Literature before Basho

In Western Literature till Shakespeare

Endnotes Bibliography

 

Basho’s Cartoon

Here to welcome children into this book. is a child-like bit of nonsense drawn by Basho in 1687

Diagram of a Snore

From tiny mouth opening to huge roar in the middle, then shaking away like crazy, and fading out to nothing, this is how grown-up men snore.

So, kids, draw a picture of daddy’s snore and send it to us.

 

Introduction

Thousands upon thousands of pages of history and literature focus entirely on adults, with no mention at all of children. In the Appendix to this book are passages from a few Western classical works that do focus on a boy or girl – at least for one scene – but in most of these works the child soon meets a tragic death. Because we have so few records of the ordinary life and consciousness of kids long ago, the two hundred child-centered works by the 17th Century Japanese poet Matsuo Basho are a priceless cultural legacy. Basho actually paid attention to both boys and girls, and their care-givers, and portrayed them with gentle appreciation and hope for the future. In his final year, three months before he died, he told his students:

 

Only this, apply your heart to what children do

 

When Basho applies his heart to what children do, he records his observations in poems even shorter than an tweet . Several books in English include some of his poetry and prose, but not the works on children and teens. The Basho haiku in those books are mostly nature poems with no human in the scene, or they are sad lonely verses about poverty, growing old, and dying – so young people today will have little interest in reading them. The poems in What Children Do are altogether different. They are full of children and teens and their caregivers, full of youth and lively activity and humor and that special energy called “Hope.”

 

Hey children!
let’s go rushing out
gems of hail

 

hildren transcend bad weather to find joy; , they “rush out” to be in it, while adults merely walk, or stay inside. They see hail positively, as “gems” falling from the sky. (p. 126)

 

Basho, a 17th century Asian man, supports education for girls:

 

Plum blossom scent,
old storybooks read
by a young girl

 

The lovely fragrance of plum blossoms opens the mind to the book (which, since this is Basho4Now, could be on a pad or e-reader) of romantic tales from long ago, and this girl reading for enjoyment. The haiku is a ‘sketch’ – just a few brush strokes and much blank space for each one of you to fill it from your own imagination. Explore it as you would explore a photo your friend tweets to you.

 

Basho sometimes portrays boys:

 

Knocking on back door
and running away home

 

and often children of either gender:

 

Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears

 

But his focus on girls is most profound :

 

To quiet down
the unsettled heart
of the daughter

 

Upset in her search for love, nearly hysterical. Mother manages to say the right words in the right tone to soothe her turmoil. Adolescent girls today may see themselves in Basho’s sketches of girls (maybe like one of his four sisters) three centuries ago:

 

With her needle
in autumn she manages
to make ends meet

Daughter playing koto
reaches age seven

 

The koto, or 13-string harp, is an instrument of refinement played only by women. Both stanzas convey the diligence and constant effort of the female, the action of her hands producing order, rhythm, and beauty. We imagine the pride the impoverished single mother feels hearing her seven-year-old daughter produce such beauty. With utmost subtlety and grace, through the powerful effect music has on the brain, Basho portrays the bond between mother and daughter, the hope for a better future that the growing and learning girl evokes in her mother, hope rising on the lovely notes emerging from her seven-year old fingers on the harp.

 

These bright lively Basho works about children and teens are known only to a few scholars who pay no attention to them; never or rarely translated, almost nobody knows they exist – however if people knew about them, they could be vital resources for developing literary as well as self-understanding, in English or any language they are translated to.

 

Let’s spread Basho’s vision of children and teens beyond Japanese Literature, beyond Japanese culture, to kids all over the world/internet. Let the children of Asia and the world, from kindergarten to college, know the poems about them by one of the greatest, and certainly the most child-friendly and girl-positive, poets the world has ever produced.

 

Translations and Commentaries

 

My aim in translation is to give you exactly the information in the original, no more, no less – to reproduce Basho’s actual words in English with nothing – or very little -- from my mind or another mind to “help you understand.” Remember a Basho verse is like a riddle – no fun if too easy to understand. You need to search.

 

My efforts for your understanding have gone not into the translations but rather into the commentaries there on the same page as Basho’s original. You never need to look in the back of the book for the clues to Basho’s riddles; instead look immediately before or after the translation. Japanese also rely on commentaries on the same page to find Basho’shidden meanings. In my commentaries I have followed authoritative commentaries by Japanese Basho scholars, however from that base I fly freely through the worlds of knowledge - children’s songs, folktales, Basho biography, biology, anthropology, child development -- whatever is fun and interesting, or sad but teresting, whatever will make Basho more entertaining, or more inspiring.

My purpose in the commentaries is three-fold:

 

To have fun with Basho;

To learn more and more from Basho

To discover the warmth in Basho’s heart

 

Scholars may not approve of my “having fun with Basho”—they may not like the jokes and anecdotes and stream of consciousness wandering— but this trilogy is not Basho4scholars but rather Basho4humanity, for ordinary people who like reading to be fun, enjoy learning about children and teens, and feel compassion and hope for them.

 

What Age is the Book For?

What Children Do is a collection of resources for children, parents, and teachers to learn about children; you may read to them, or copy poems (with or without commentaries) for children to read and discuss. Small children, whether they read themselves or are to read to, will enjoy the poems about them in Chapters Four to Seven. Small children at first may read only the Basho poems in this font.

 

Spring rain -
sprouted to two leaves
eggplant seed

 

Children can learn to read from this haiku and dozens of others in this volume; for best results, provide an eggplant seed and cup of soil to each student. Even if a word or two is unfamiliar to the young reader, the structure is so simple they will easily learn. The poems can be an avenue into reading the more difficult language in the commentaries in ordinary print.

 

By fourth or fifth grade, children should be able to read and understand much more of the book. Children between 7 and 12 will get a kick out of Chapter named for them. Teenagers who do not enjoy reading books may prefer these seven-word poems that make a tweet seem long-winded. Those learning English as a second language, especially in Asia, will appreciate the simple straightforward, non-intellectual commentaries about Asian topics such as rice-planting and long straight black hair. I will be very happy if students in Asia use the book to study English as well as learn Basho’s Asian thought, and equally happy if students in the West learn Basho’s universal and youthful thought.

 

What are haiku?

Thousands of schools in every land now teach haiku – so many children and adults know of these brief poems -- however a misunderstanding of the Japanese word on for “sound-unit” has led to the belief that haiku in English must have 17 syllables. In Japanese “syllables” are single sound units; an English syllable usually contains two of these – as the two syllables of ra-menhave four sound-units: ra-a me-n. Most of the simple ordinary words used by Basho have two sound-units, so 17 Japanese syllables is only room for about seven words plus two or three particles for grammar. It is usually easy and natural to translate the seven words of a Japanese haiku (or three-line stanza of linked verse) to about seven English words plus particles – and then the syllables come to about eleven. Eleven syllables in English have the same amount of sound as 17 Japanese syllables, just as 11 navel oranges may have the same amount of juice as 17 Mandarin oranges. Throughout this trilogy in every haiku and three-line stanza, you will find a syllable pattern close to 3-5-3, while the two-line stanzas approach 5-5.The 5-syllable lines have one unstressed syllable, so come to four beats. The 3-syllable lines end with an silent one-beat pause, so they also become four beats.

Four beats occur in in every line of poetry:

3 beats and pause / 4 beats no pause / 3 beats and pause.

No effort is required to fit the words into a four beat rhythm; they will go that way naturally – the syllables stretch out or compress -- since this is the rhythm of almost all the music we hear, sing, or play on instruments.

 

To emulate Basho, I suggest children today write haiku with about seven words, in about eleven syllables, with a spoken beat pattern of three-four-three, so with pauses the rhythm becomes 4 – 4 – 4.

 

Lightness = Newness

Basho, like many young people in every era, rejected the traditions important to his elders: he told Kyorai:

 

The attachment to Oldness
is the very worst disease a poet can have.

 

The disease of Oldness (which he also called “heaviness”) is the preference for old-fashioned literary words instead of the modern words young people use, the focus on heavy situations, disappointment and tragedy, dragging the reader down with allusions to the sad past or inevitable dying, the love for mono aware, the pathos of all things and all people passing away, how sad it is. Basho said “Enough!” of that old past. Look rather at Now, actually focusing on what a child does in good health and ordinary circumstances -- crawling, crying, playing, sleeping, working, studying, fooling around, waiting, desiring. Sometimes he called it “Lightness,” and sometimes “Newness.”

 

Fisherman’s child
to announce a whale
blows on a shell

 

The verse overflows with life and activity: boy standing tall and watching, whale breeching, waves surging, boy skillfully blowing into shell so sound travels throughout the village, adults running to their boats. The sound from the shell is the life-force of this child. The verse is “Light” because it has no tragedy in it, no grief (except to the whale), just a direct appreciation of a living child, of his life-breath.

 

Most of the verses in this book contain an actual child or children; the few that do not are characterized by their fundemental simplicity, and will amuse children.

 

Bush warbler
poops on the rice cake

verandah’s edge

 

Mochi rice cakes are eaten during the New Year’s season which in Japan lasts up to three weeks. As the days pass, with no refrigerators or plastic wrap, the leftovers get moldy – however if dried in the sunshine, the mold can be wiped off and the mochi eaten – but not if it had bird poop on it.

Usually we hear the lovely song of the bush warbler, but Basho notices something else about the bird. Scholar Kon Eizo says this verse is a “crystallization” of Lightness; it gives a definite form to Basho’s ideal: nothing poetic or philosophic. romantic or tragic, simply life as is, with a touch of humor, to be interesting. Small children will like any verse with pee or poop in it, so this should be a favorite.

 

Ina letter to two followers in 1690, Basho described Lightness as,

neither heavy nor spinning about

 

A poem of Lightness does not sink down with literary weight; it goes somewhere, instead of spinning about aimlessly. It is full of life and Hope, not sadness or regret. Haruo Shirane says that Basho’s Lightness consists of “youthful playfulness, spontaneity, naturalness, and fresh perspective…” Those who love Western poetry may find Basho’s poems of Lightness so simple and childlike, so lightweight, they feel like nothing –

yet they are alive and life-giving – so they please the young and childlike:

 

Links of Youth

Basho and his followers gathered to compose a sequence of linked stanzas, each poet writing one stanza connecting in one way or another to the stanza before. In an letter to his follower Kyorai, Basho wrote about his linked verse:

 

This is a path of a fresh novel taste
with aliveness in both heart and words.

In another Basho letter he complains:

 

an old-style of linking is common,
and I find the following stanzas so old-fashioned.

 

When Basho says “old-style” he does not mean centuries old, but rather as in styles of poetry of a generation ago still popular in 1681, although still too old for Basho’s taste. After a few more digs at the old-style of other poets, he gives an outline of how to avoid oldness in linking verses.

 

Without a sense of how to use ordinary words,
you will get mixed up in an old style.

 

Years later he put this in positive terms:

 

Poetry benefits from the realization of ordinary words.

if the rhythm of the phrase coming out your mouth is natural, it is okay – however if even one sound stagnates in your mouth, you must scrutinize the expression.

 

For some coolness
kids going naked to

wait for the moon

Straw mats their shields

they run and jump about

 

Ryoban looks at small children, naked in the mid-summer evening heat, their bright eyes anticipating the rise of the full moon. Basho enhances the life force in the children by focusing on their activity: holding the straw mats in front of their privates as they “run and jump about,” screaming for joy and laughing.

From 1686 to 1689 Basho called his poetic ideal “Newness” but then, from 1690 to his death in 1694, he called it Lightness.

 

Over rinsed whites
lark sings to the sky

Only the girls
to view cherry blossoms
rise in a flock

 

Sometimes the second poet veered off into a different scene linked to the first stanza. Basho said: Link verses the way children play. Leap, as a child does, with freedom and joy, through space and time, to another reality.

 

Children in Basho Prose

If Basho’s haiku are snapshots of reality, then his prose is the video. The most well-known child in Basho prose is the abandoned two-year-old he encountered beside the Fuji River in 1684,  however his compassionate account of this incident has been misunderstood to give Basho the reputation for being “that horrid man who left the child to die.” I try to repair the damage done.


Basho portrays his interaction, in 1688, with an eleven year old boy:

 

I decide to climb to the peak of Mount Tetsukai.
The child who is my guide hates this idea
and tries in many ways to distract me
but I coax him with a promise to buy him a snack
at the tea-house below the mountain
and he reluctantly gives his consent. 

 

Through Basho’s lively active prose, we meet this kid dealing with an eccentric old geezer. Eleven year olds, however, grow up to encounter inner urges more compelling than “a snack at the tea-house”

 

Beneath plum blossoms on the dark mountain
unknown to people, unexpectedly
we may be stained by the fragrance.
On a hill of deep longing,
with no one to guard the gate,
somehow indiscretions occur.
 

Yes, they do. If this passage speaks to the heart of teenagers today dealing with those adolescent urges, Basho would be very pleased.

 

Letters about Children

Authors with no knowledge at all of Basho’s letters – the repositories of his consciousness -- claim that he was “impersonal” and “detached.”  The many sections of deeply personal and human-involved letters in Basho4Humanity prove how misguided these authors are. In this volume, the brief sections about children in Basho's letters to Kyokusui and Uko, reveal Basho’s devotion to children, his concern for their well-being.

 

The most remarkable glimpses of children in Basho’s letters are those of his grandnephew Jirobei and grandnieces Masa and Ofu. He made the choice to take 15 year old Jirobei with him on his journey west in 1694. Basho’s observations of Jirobei adapting to the rigors of traveling 25 to 30 miles a day, much of this on foot, are only a dozen sentences in seven letters on pages 174-9, but they offer considerable insights into male adolescent development. Basho writes of Jirobei:


His first journey continues to be praiseworthy

 

In the 19th century, Charles Darwin initiated the study of child development with detailed systematic observations of his own children, but 200 years before Darwin, Basho’s undetailed and non-systematic observations of children and teens should be recognized as among the earliest portraits of young people in world literature, a forerunner of anthropological studies of children and adolescents, and furthermore a call for recognition of children as whole human beings.

 

Basho Speaks

In the verses of other poets,
there is too much making
and the heart’s immediacy is lost.
What is made from the heart is good;
the product of words shall not be prefered.

 

The “heart’s immediacy” is the province of small children; as we grow up, we discover ways to interfere with that spontaneity. When we try to write a poem, all that mental baggage comes to mind. Basho searches for ways to avoid “too much making” and return to the heart untainted by adult words, thoughts, excuses,  considerations,  etc.


To find loneliness interesting
is the outcome of being on a path

 

When you enter a discipline – martial arts, music, sports, etc – you travel together with the people practicing with you -- however separate from all others who have no idea of the information and techniques you are learning – so as of course you will be lonely. That can be interesting.

 

Basho observed that as people grew older, they lost their childhood innocence and could no longer could appreciate Lightness. He said,

 

“The skillful have a disease;
have a three-foot child get the poem

 

Adults are so full of their skill, they can never be simple and Light; this, according to Basho, is their “disease.” The child is three feet tall (not having three feet, which would be weird). To “get” a poem can be to read, write, or interpret it. Basho is saying children have a wisdom that enables them to see the haiku moment and ‘get it.’ Instead of teaching them Basho, we should learn Basho from them.

 

Ride the Energy

Basho spoke to his follower Doho words that children may appreciate

Make poetry ride the Energy

The “Energy” here is ki, or qi, the “universal energy” of martial or healing arts, or as George Lucas called it “the Force.” Children who play a musical instrument, or surf the waves , or fly a kite, or practice a martial art, may best understand Basho’s meaning. To see how Basho himself rode the Energy in poetry, consider these two stanzas from the first of 300 sequences in which Basho participated. The year is 1666 and Basho is about 22. The first poet offers an elegant image of Japanese classical dance, and Basho takes that feeling into the world of children:

 

Hand of the dancer
quietly descends

More than appears
the Energy is obedient
in a small child

 

The movement of the dancer’s hand expresses more, much more, than simply getting from up to down; it expresses the dancer’s obedience to ki. The hand rides the Energy downward, as a surfer stays on the board even as the board drops and rises. Likewise the small child may not follow adult commands, but is obedient to that universal Energy.

 

Basho being, as far as I can tell, the only male author in world literature who focuses on ordinary women and children in ordinary life, these works are a legacy belonging to women and children everywhere.

 

Brief Notes to the Reader

 Seasons --Spring begins the first day of the First Moon, in February still very cold,

but a few young greens show Spring,

Summer begins with the bright sunny 4th Moon, in May,

and ends in the full heat of early August

Autumn begins with the lingering heat of the 7th Moon (from mid-August)

and ends with the chill of mid-November.

Winter starts off chilly and gets colder and colder through the 10th to 12th Moons

(from November to January).

If we think of each season as that of being warm, hot, cool, and cold, the Japanese seasons do not fit, however if we think of them as the seasons of BECOMING warm, hot, cool, and cold, they are just right.

 

Calendar -- The Japanese followed the Chinese lunar calendar in which New Years Day, the First Day of the First Moon, is usually comes in early February by the Western calendar – so the Second Moon was approximately March, the Third Moon mostly April, and so on till the 12th Moon in January. Unfortunately when the Japanese switched over to the Western calender at the end of the 19th century, they simply used the old lunar moon numbers with the Western month numbers. Thus the Festival of Stars, Tanabata, the 7th day of the 7th Moon, is celebrated on July 7th. This is most confusing, because a festival suitable for the clear skies of mid August is celebrated in the middle of the rainy season.

 

I have followed Chronological Conversion Charts to give each date in Basho’s writing its Gregorian equivalent for that year. With dates given in our modern months, we can more fully enter the season of the verse.

 

Western year numbers are used instead of the Chinese ones Basho knew: since the year ended in early February, the January of each year was part of the year before.


Can we agree that Haiku are like sheep -- plural the same as singular?

And the same for samurai, kimono, and ninja?

 

Year of Age – The Japanese had no “birthdays.” A child at birth was considered age one, then become two the next New Years, though by the Western count, might still before first birthday. Throughout this book, I have subtracted one from every age given in Japanese: this is not perfect, but comes closer than leaving the number as is, or subtracting two.

 

Personal names are given Japanese style, family name first then personal name, however have been Westernized without indication of double-vowel sounds – as “Tokyo” is written. Scholars always give Basho’s name with a macron over the ‘o,’ but I believe without macron will be more welcoming for non-scholars.

We speak of Basho as a child or young man, although he only used that name from age 38 when a follower planted a basho, or banana plant, in his garden, and people began to call his cottage “banana-plant hermitage,” so he started signing his poems “Basho.”

 

I have taken every effort to avoid scholarly jargon and complex abstract sentences. On every issue there is much more I could say to “cover all my bases” – but I choose to keep things simple, so the main point does not lost among qualifiers and subjunctives. Sometimes I put the details in the Endnotes – but often I do not. To keep the Endnotes from overflowing, I have left a lot out from them too.

 

Endnotes -- In addition to the commentaries on the same page with the translation, some items have extra commentaries in the Endnotes. The endnotes are where to have more fun with Basho.

Each endnote begins with the page number in this volume, the first few words of the item, and the Japanese source. For all Basho poetry, and stanzas in renku in which he participated, the verse is given in Romanized Japanese. Since Basho usually uses simple ordinary words, anyone with basic understanding of Japanese can see that these translations use the same words as does the original.

 

Because, in spite of his many close friends and frequent get-togethers, so many accounts claim Basho was an austere and lonely recluse;

because some “Basho verses” appearing in English cannot be found in Japanese,

and some are known to have been hoaxes;

because so many of the works in this collection are so different from the well-known works of Basho;

because none of the many hundreds of writers about Japanese literature

mention the majority of works in this trilogy

because there is no way in English to confirm their authenticity

or accuracy of translation;

because I have no academic degree in Japanese literature;

for all these reasons some people will not believe the works here

are genuine –and so I want you to know that with the data in the Endnotes a reader of Japanese

will have no trouble finding almost every item in this trilogy in authoritative Basho anthologies

in a large Japanese city library.

 

Acknowledgements

First I wish to thank Sakata Shoko for her countless contributions to every page of this trilogy, for her patience in helping me understand her language, for her ability to find information on her electronic encyclopedia, and for her laughter at Basho’sjokes. I also thank my three assistants, Laura Mae Noda from Jamaica, Bronagh McCarthy from Ireland, and Shwe Poe from Myanmar, for your woman’s perspective on Basho and your help on the computer.

 

From the very beginning of my studies of Basho in Japanese, I have relied on the late Basho scholar Kon Eizo’s Basho Kushu, finding more wisdom in his brief, succient sentences than in whole paragraphs by other scholars. Later when I got into Basho’sletters, his Basho Chronology and Letter Anthology continued to the clearest of guides, giving me rich access to information no other scholars know. I express my gratitude to his spirit. I also wish to thank Miyawaki Masahiko for his guidance in the world of Basho’slinked verses of human feeling.

 

Mr. Inazawa at the Basho Museum in Iga, and Mr. Yokoyama at the Basho Museum in Tokyo took the time to answer my questions and guide me to areas I would never have found by myself; many thanks. Also, for supplying the cover illustration, I am indebted to city of Iga.

Many thanks to the librarians at the Fukuoka City Library for going the extra mile to find articles and information both in the stacks and on their data bases.

 

Also I express my gratitude to Wikipedia and Google for bringing so much information to my desktop.

 

My gratititude to Obun Publishing Co. in Tokyo, and especially Mr Arigaki, for bearing with my frequent misses in printing up the first bound manuscripts. I thank Maebaru General Printing for photoshopping.

Marilyn Ross and Sue Collier’s The Complete Guide to Self-publishing explained things other self-publishing books neglected.

The Back Cover Layout on page 36 of Dan Poynter’s The Self-Publishinng Manuel was most helpful in creating the back covers of each volume in this trilogy. Tanks to Dan for producing such a fine guide.

 

Thanks to George Swede and Francine Banworth at Frogpond for accepting my articles, and to Michele Root-Bernstein for her superb statement about Basho's "compassionate intuition" which became the basis for many of my own realizations. 

 

I thank Yu and Chiyuki and Prabado for all they have given me.

Also I wish to thank Iida Kaori for her voice which inspired me throughout the writing of this book.

And I owe gratitude to Mount Tateishi, and to one place beside the Zubaiji River,  where much of it was written.

Haruo Shirane’s statements on the humanity in Basho have been a beacon for me, showing that someone else besides myself could see that other Basho.

My gratitude to Hiroaki Sato for getting me into studying Basho renku with his Basho’s Narrow Road, and then introducing me to the ten volume Basho Renku Zenshu – two very important steps in the creation of this trilogy.

 

I must also acknowledge the people who have, without reading the book or knowing any of its contents, have judged it worthless. Your cruel and close-minded comments have shown me how much this book is needed, so hopefully future generations will not think about Basho the way you do.

 

My deepest appreciation goes to my three daughters, Jean, Ellie, and Shanti, for helping me understand the children and women in Basho, and for being the wonderful children you were and the even more wonderful women you are now. Also I owe much gratitude to Jean and my ex-wife Yo for continuing to support me in so many ways in the years of writing this book; to Yo for her superb Japanese country cooking, to Jean for her perceptive readings of the manuscript and her feedback. Thank you.

 

Little Ninja at the Castle in Iga

 

The smaller boy holds up one finger;

his big brother makes the same gesture, but hides it.

This is a kuji goshinho, the ninja symbol

for a nine-word chant which will make them invincible.

The girl already is invincible.

 

Little Ninja Prologue

 

Basho’s birthplace, Iga (Mie-ken, southwest of Nagoya, east of Nara) was also home to Japan’s leading school of ninjitsu, the techniques of hiding, infiltration and secret attack practiced by those mysterious undercover agents. The Chinese characters for ninja mean “person who hides.” Ninja from Iga fought in the civil wars that wracked Japan in the 15th and 16th centuries, but by Basho’s birth in 1644 Japan had been at peace for two generations and ninjitsu had become a martial art (and underground spy ring). Basho grew up with ninja heritage everywhere around him; for instance his friend-in-youth Doho belonged by adoption to the Hattori clan, “the leaders of the ninja community in Iga.” On the surface they did no spying, but who knows what was going on in ninja secrecy?

 

In Iga nowadays, the ninja connection is a far greater tourist attraction – especially for young boys -- than the Basho connection. Ninja patrol the castle grounds (now Ueno Park) in robes that cover every square inch of skin, so as not to show up in the starlight while climbing a castle wall. Of course in the old days the robes were navy-blue which is indistinguishable in the night (that was the point) but the modern ninja are red, purple, yellow, pink, etc. and come in daddy, mommy and child sizes. A stand near the park rents ninja costumes (complete with plastic sword strapped to back – seen in left-page photo); for the day (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; 700 yen per person) so families can dress up and wander freely about the famous ninja castle.

This is where Basho came from.

 

 

 

 

 

Goodnight Hug

Mary Cassett

.

Basho would have appreciated both faces being hidden.

We see a woman’s hidden face at

He also would have liked the clear detail of the mother’s hand,

for Basho also portrayed the female hand (see F-2 Hands)

 

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Take Back the Sun: Basho Tells Herstory (A-05) (A-07) Dear Uncle Basho: Poet of Humanity >>


The Three Thirds of Basho

 

 

I plead for your help in finding a person or group to take over my 3000 pages of Basho material, to edit and improve the presentation, to receive all royalties from sales, to spread Basho’s wisdom worldwide and preserve for future generations.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com
Basho's thoughts on...
• What Children Do: Basho Honors the Young
• Introduction to this site
• The Human Story:
• Praise for Women
• Love and Sex in Basho
• Children and Teens
• Humanity and Friendship
• On Translating Basho
• Basho Himself
• Poetry and Music
• The Physical Body
• Food, Drink, and Fire
• Animals in Basho
• Space and Time
• Letters Year by Year
• Bilingual Basho 日本語も
• 芭蕉について日本語の論文
• Basho Renku, 芭蕉連句
• Women in Basho
• BAMHAY (Basho Amazes Me! How About You?)
• New Articles


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

The only substantial
collection in English
of Basho's renku, tanka,
letters and spoken word
along with his haiku, travel
journals, and essays.

The only poet in old-time
literature who paid attention with praise
to ordinary women, children, and teenagers
in hundreds of poems

Hundreds upon hundreds of Basho works
(mostly renku)about women, children,
teenagers, friendship, compassion, love.

These are resources we can use to better
understand ourselves and humanity.

Interesting and heartfelt
(not scholarly and boring)
for anyone concerned with
humanity.


“An astonishing range of
social subject matter and
compassionate intuition”


"The primordial power
of the feminine emanating
from Basho's poetry"


Hopeful, life-affirming
messages from one of
the greatest minds ever.

Through his letters,
we travel through his mind
and discover Basho's
gentleness and humanity.

I plead for your help in
finding a person or group
to take over my 3000 pages of Basho material,
to edit and improve the material, to receive 100%
of royalties, to spread Basho’s wisdom worldwide
and preserve for future generations.

Quotations from Basho Prose


The days and months are
guests passing through eternity.
The years that go by
also are travelers.



The mountains in silence
nurture the spirit;
the water with movement
calms the emotions.


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


Seek not the traces
of the ancients;
seek rather the
places they sought.



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


"The attachment to Oldness
is the very worst disease
a poet can have."


“The skillful have a disease;
let a three-foot child
get the poem"


"Be sick and tired
of yesterday’s self."


"This is the path of a fresh
lively taste with aliveness
in both heart and words."
.

"In poetry is a realm
which cannot be taught.
You must pass through it
yourself. Some poets have made
no effort to pass through, merely
counting things and trying
to remember them.
There was no passing
through the things."


"In verses of other poets,
there is too much making
and the heart’s
immediacy is lost.
What is made from
the heart is good;
the product of words
shall not be preferred."


"We can live without poetry,
yet without harmonizing
with the world’s feeling
and passing not through
human feeling, a person
cannot be fulfilled. Also,
without good friends,
this would be difficult."


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


"Many of my followers
write haiku equal to mine,
however in renku is the
bone marrow of this old man."


"Your following stanza
should suit the previous one as an expression
of the same heart's connection."


"Link verses the way
children play."


"Make renku
ride the Energy.
Get the timing wrong,
you ruin the rhythm."


"The physical form
first of all must be graceful
then a musical quality
makes a superior verse."

"As the years passed
by to half a century.
asleep I hovered
among morning clouds
and evening dusk,
awake I was astonished
at the voices of mountain
streams and wild birds."


“These flies sure enjoy
having an unexpected
sick person.”



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


On Life's journey
plowing a small field
going and returning


Child of poverty
hulling rice, pauses to
look at the moon


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

With her needle
in autumn she manages
to make ends meet
Daughter playing koto
reaches age seven


After the years
of grieving. . . finally
past eighteen
Day and night dreams of
Father in that battle


Now to this brothel
my body has been sold
Can I trust you
with a letter I wrote,
mirror polisher?


Only my face
by rice-seedling mud
is not soiled
Breastfeeding on my lap
what dreams do you see?



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com