Basho's thoughts on...
• Introduction to this site
• The Human Story: Basho
• Praise for Women
• Love and Sex in Basho
• Children and Teens
• Humanity and Friendship
• On Translating Basho
• Basho Himself
• Renku, Haiku, and Tanka
• The Physical Body
• Food, Drink, and Fire
• Animals in Basho
• Space and Time for Basho
• Basho Letters Year by Year
• Bilingual Basho 日本語も
• 芭蕉について日本語の論文
• 370 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 women,
children, and teenagers

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 his
"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 Prose


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-09


Sun Bumps Her Forehead 日に 額 を うつ

200 Basho Renku - Introduction

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

A collection of 200 Basho renku focuing on humanity: with original Japanese and Romanization, and commentaries right below the original so you easily go to them for information.

 

 

Sun bumps Her forehead
on peak of Mount Fuji

Hi ni gaku o utsu / fuji no mine age
日に 額 を うつ / 富士の 峰 上げ

 

Introduction  

Far beyond the haiku Basho wrote by himself are the stanzas he contributed to renku, or linked verse composed by a team of poets. His renku are far more numerous, yet while his haiku have become world-famous, the renku are known only to a few specialists. While his well-known haiku are mostly nature scenes or songs of loneliness so haiku scholars claim Basho was “impersonal, detached, and objective,” his renku overflow with human life, activity, and heart.   Basho's several hundred renku stanzas on humanity are a profound reservoir of resources for understanding humanity. 

 

The 200 stanzas by Basho in this collection are mostly in stanza-pairs (though I have included a few trios), Basho either passing or receiving, two separate minds connecting to reach profound truth about human experience. Basho said:

 

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

 

発句は門人の中、予におとらぬ句する人多し。俳諧においては老翁が骨髄.
Haiku wa monjin no naka, ni otoranu ku suru hito ōshi. 
Renku ni oite wa rōō ga kotsuzui。

 

The “bone marrow of this old man” – the vital inner core of his consciousness – is his feeling for the “heart’s connection” in renku. Basho told his followers

 

It would be good for you to see from practice
that your following stanza suits the previous one
as an expression of the same heart’s connection.

 

 

ある付句に前句を添えて、同じ付心が
表現できるような訓練などをしてみるのもよい
Aru tsukeku ni maeku o soete, onaji tsuke-kokoro ga
hyōgen dekiru yō na kunren nado o shite miru no yoi.

 

When Basho receives a stanza from another poet, he searches for the “heart’s connection” and harmonizes with it to fulfill his own vision. When we in the 21st century read the stanzas, if the “heart’s connections” appeal to us, then we appreciate the verse, and it becomes a pathway in our own consciousness. On the next page is a renku stanza pair, Kyokusui passing and Basho receiving, that may form a “heart’s connection” with women and teenage girls today.

 

From slender threads
love becomes intense

Though my thoughts
are of love, “eat something!”
she commands me

 

 

ほそき 筋 より /愛 つのり つつ
Hosoki suji yori / ai tsunori tsutsu

 

物 おもふ /身 に もの 喰え と/ せつかれて
Mono omou / mi ni mono kue to / setsukarete

 

 

Kyokusui notes, in a rather generalized and abstract way, that love starts out simple but somehow becomes “intense.” Basho makes this the experience of a teenage girl, and also brings her mother into the scene. History books never tell us of the relationships teenage girls had with mother, but Basho does.

“Although the turmoil of young love takes away all my appetite, mother insists I eat, to build up my slender body. Why can’t she understand that I cannot eat while this turmoil rages within me? Mother, stop bugging me!”   So Basho  portrays the generation gap 300 years ago or today: daughter thinking of love but mother of nourishment, so no meeting of minds.

 

This is Basho, the student of humanity: he observes people – including women and children -- and records his observations in this form of cooperative poetry. In renku, Basho is both sociologist and anthropologist. A professor of Theatre at Michigan State University, Michele Root Bernstein, notes

 

“The astonishing range of social subject matter and compassionate intuition

that Basho reveals in his links.”

 

Basho’s “compassionate intuition” for the teenage girl in the turmoil of adolescent love, as well as for her mother striving to guide her daughter through adolescence, is unique in world literature; other authors occasionally portray the teenager in love (i.e. Juliet) but Basho’s verses are the earliest and most numerous, diverse, and insightful portraits of female  teenage girls in love, as well in not-so-romantic circumstances.

Basho offers a positive, life-affirming vision of ordinary everyday life. More than any author of olden times,

Basho honors the active living physical body,

 

He recognizes and praises ordinary women

He affirms the joy and tears of children.

He highlights the succession of generations

He promotes solidarity among people

 

Here is another pair by Kyokusui and Basho:

 

Mixed bathing
in a Suwa hot spring
twilight dim,

  Among them a tall
mountain ascetic

 

Irigomi ni / Suwa no ideyu no / yuu magure
入り込みに / 諏訪の 湧湯 の /夕 ま暮れ
Naka ni mo sei no / takaki yamabushi
中 に も せいの / 高き 山伏

 

The citation 7: 69 indicates this stanza appears on page 69 of volume 7 of the Complete Basho Renku Anthology.

 

Kyokusui begins with a fascinating scene of a hot spring in the mountains of northern Japan where men and women bathe together naked -- however he hides them in the twilight steamy air. Then, within Kyokusui’s image, Basho opens a new vision. In the hot pool sits a “tall mountain ascetic” These yamabushi followed the path of shugendō, a discipline of physical endurance in severe conditions – such as sitting or standing in a cold waterfall – as the path to enlightenment. A mountain ascetic would come to a hot spring for

self-purification in the scalding heat.

 

Basho seems to have realized that “tall mountain ascetic” illustrates his mastery of poetic technique: he said,

The following stanza fits in with the previous one,
and along with that, it stands out to the eyes.

 

付け句は「前句にはまりてつけたるなり。
その中の事を目に立てて、いはたる句なり。
Tsukeku wa “maeku ni hamarite tsuketaru nari.
Sono naka no koto o me ni tatete, iwataru ku nari

 

Basho explains that the mountain ascetic “fits in with” the hot pool and evening dimness, while also he “stands out to the eyes.” Many mountain ascetics lived in the remote and arduous mountains around Suwa, and for one of these men to bathe in a Suwa hot spring would not be unusual. So Basho’s stanza fits in with Kyokusui’s. Other folks relax and slouch in the steaming hot water, but he sits up straight and tall so his muscular chest and shoulders stand out from the hot spring environment and evening darkness.

Every philosopher and art critic could elaborate on this synthesis of “fitting in” with “standing out” – yet none of them could provide so fine an example of this synthesis as Basho does with his mountain ascetic in the evening twilight at a remote hot spring.

 

Here Sora begins and Basho follows:

 

The punitive force
already has set forth
in solemn dignity

For one night’s vow
he empties his purse

 

Sude ni tatsu / utte no tsukai / ikameshiku
ichiya no chigiri / zeni ga kazukeru

 

すでに立つ / 討手の使い / いかめしき
一夜 の 契り/ 銭 が かづける

 

The emperor has ordered troops to subjugate the rebels; the samurai gather, and when morning comes, leave camp with strict, solemn military precision. Meanwhile, the commander of the rebels (Han Solo) has spent the night in a brothel, and when morning comes makes a hasty departure so he can prepare his army. Before he leaves, since he is not likely to ever need cash again, he gives all he has to his partner in “one night’s vow.” Here we have an indentured sex slave who got lucky. Sold to a brothel for a money loan when she was ten or 12, unable to pay off the loan, these girls typically died, often from syphilis, by age 22. Though the woman is not mentioned in any word, if we explore the link between the two stanzas, we discover her.

 

Taking off from Sora’s masculine military stanza, Basho creates a blessing for the female. Military commanders carry considerable funds. Now she can purchase her freedom, return to her home village, a hero because she saved her family from ruin, marry that boy she loves, and have children. After her one night together with the commander, we feel her joy when she realizes what he has given her, and we feel her grief as she understands why he is giving away all his cash. Only Basho can so simply take us so deep into the human heart.

 

The diversity of humanity in Basho verse is vast. In these few pages, Basho has taken us inside five people: a teenage girl with mother, a magnificent naked man in a hot spring, and a rebel commander and courtesan. The 200 stanzas in the collection contain hundreds more women, children, and men for you to explore and create. In SUN BUMPS HER FOREHEAD, except for in this Introduction, there is no commentary, but only the words of Basho and fellow poets, in English, and Japanese, and Romanization. Without commentary, for many verses, few readers will get the meaning the poets had in mind. That’s okay. Even if you do not, you will still get some message about a person or people. Explore that message. Those who wish to discover the depths of the original can find commentary for each stanza in Basho4Humanity .

 

             basho4humanity@gmail.com 

 






<< Letters from Basho: Introduction (A-08) (A-10) Samples >>


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...
• Introduction to this site
• The Human Story: Basho
• Praise for Women
• Love and Sex in Basho
• Children and Teens
• Humanity and Friendship
• On Translating Basho
• Basho Himself
• Renku, Haiku, and Tanka
• The Physical Body
• Food, Drink, and Fire
• Animals in Basho
• Space and Time for Basho
• Basho Letters Year by Year
• Bilingual Basho 日本語も
• 芭蕉について日本語の論文
• 370 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 women,
children, and teenagers

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 his
"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 Prose


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