Basho's thoughts on...
• Women in Basho
• 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
• 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  >  The Human Story:  >  A-14


Humanity on the Narrow Path

27 prose passages about people from Basho’s travel journal A Narrow Path in the Heartlands

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

Prose passages selected for their expression of humanity, rich with human life, activity, and speech; five months of Basho consciousness traveling in the heartlands of Japan, the rugged backward northern areas.  Haiku in the journal are usually not included, to concentrate our attention – mine and yours – on Basho’s prose. To escape from the “Basho Image” –austere, detached, impersonal – that has formed around him, we focus on the wonder of his portraits of humanity. His descriptions of natural scenery, shrines and temples are certainly wonderful, but here are not included. Here is only humanity.


Brower and Miner note a “sinuous forward pressure” in all of Japanese literary prose: the words press forward, like water always accumulating power to the final words and final image. Basho is the master of this. As usual in Basho4Now, prose is sectioned off into phrases each occupying a single line, making them prose poetry, so the images stand out in our consciousness.

 

Basho’s preface to A Narrow Path in the Heartlands begins with words tsukihi wa hakudai no kuwakaku ni shite… every high schooler in Japan is forced to learn, along with other famous lines from the classics, to pass an exam (as Shoko recalls in the Preface (Article A-4) and most come out of the experience with a lifelong distaste for that old-fashioned “literary” stuff. As adults they probably can recall the first few words of the passage, but only as relics from school education, having no value today. We can transcend their judgments.

 

Days and months are guests passing through Eternity,
the years that go by also are travelers,
and those who float through life on boats
or face old age leading the mouth of horses
make the day-by-day journey their home.
Many of the Ancients even died on a journey.

 

Humanity fills every phrase: days and months are “guests” who visit us then leave, years too are “travelers,” the vivid images of boat people and horse guides, then the poets and sages long ago who died while traveling (as Basho will do five years after his journey).

 

I too, in years past,
a solitary cloud enticed by the wind,
could but think of vagabonding
and went off to wander the seacoasts.
Last autumn I cleared away the cobwebs
from my rundown hut by the river. . .

 

Arranging phrases vertically, in poetic form, as in a supermarket shopping list, allows the brain to process them holistically.

 

. . .however as the year soon ended
and spring began under misty skies
I was by some unknown deity seized
with a madness to cross the Gate of Shirakawa.
The gods of travel beckoned
till my hands could hardly hold onto things,
so I mended my torn breeches,
changed the cords on my sedge hat,
and burned moxa on some points,

 

Basho follows “my hands could hardly hold on to things” with a list of three skilled tasks he performed with his hands. When we notice this incongruity, the passage becomes humorous.

 

and now with the moon at Matsushima already over my heart,
I have given where I lived away to another,
and drift over to Sampu’s tea cottage.

 

Matsushima is 200 miles north of Edo where Basho is, but where he will be in six months. The moon there already “over my heart” is a typical Basho expression of the spirit transcending barriers of space and time. Sampu allowed Basho to spend the first night of his trip in style; since Sampu is wealthy, his tea cottage is  a masterpiece of design and carpentry, a remarkable place for Basho to sleep the first night of his journey.

 

The whole passage builds up to its final expression of gratitude to Sampu, making Sampu’s name live through the centuries.  As Basho says in his Will:

 

           This I say to Sampu: for so long your kindness
           even after death, shall not be forgotten 

 

Beloved friends from evening gathered, to see us off on the boat. 
At a place called Senju we rose from the boat.
Thoughts of 3000 leagues before us occupying my chest,
I shed tears at separating from the streets of illusion.       
 

Basho’s and Sora’s friends rode with them up the Sumida River to Senju (in Adachi-ku), starting point of the Nikko Road to the North. Basho says the thoughts fusagarite his chest; this could be “clogging”

or “blocking” though I use “occupying.”  The word should contain lots of activity, not simply “filling” which is movement in one direction, but rather movement congesting in different directions at once, .

 

We went to visit the Cauldren of Eight Islands.
My travelling companion Sora says,


“This shrine belongs to Tree Blossom Princess
who also has a shrine on Mount Fuji.
She entered a doorless chamber and set fire to herself to prove
she had been faithful to her pledge,
and so gave birth to Gods-Born-From-Fire
which is why this place is called Caldron of Eight Islands."  
 

Basho probably made up this speech by Sora. This place in Tochigi has no connection to Tree Blossom Princess, the goddess of Mount Fuji, who in order to prove her faithfulness to her husband, entered a doorless chamber and set fire to her self.  Since she was telling the truth, she did not die from burning, but instead gave birth from her “caldron” to baby fire gods.   But this is NOT why this place is called “Caldron  of Eight Islands."  Basho is having some fun with us, while he brings our attention to  the faithfulness of women and goddesses.   

 

 

 

On the last day of the Third Moon we stay
at the foot of Mount Nikko. The innkeeper says,
“My name is Buddha Gozaemon. People call me this
because I maintain honesty in all matters.
You may for one night cast yourselves down
on this pillow of weeds and rest.”

 

Most of us, as we grow up, begin to deceive people with a façade. This innkeeper is one who does not. He simply is himself, never realizing that to compare himself to the Buddha, even if he is only repeating what others say about him, is socially unacceptable and makes him look foolish. Because he actually is as honest as he says, he gets away with it.

 

Now what sort of Buddha would arise from this corrupt dirty world
to help beggars in monk’s robes on a pilgrimage?
I stop my thoughts to watch this innkeeper and find him to be
without cleverness or discrimination, a stubbornly honest man,
an example of what Confucius called,
“the virtue of fortitude and rugged honesty,”
a hereditary character of utmost praise.

 

Basho identifies a genetic quality in this innkeeper, a quality of honesty and goodness that is inherited,        a quality Confucius saw in his idealizaton of a superior man or "gentleman."  In the next passage, he honors Tokugawa Ieyasu for establishing the national peace and social harmony in which common people can afford to be honest and kind. Basho the Anthropologist.

 

His Honorable Light now shines everywhere under Heaven
and benefits overflow to the Eight Corners of the Land,
so in the lives of the four classes of citizens
there is reassurance and calm.

 

The four classes of citizens are samurai, farmers, craftsmen, and merchants.   Since a man's career is decided by his birth, he wastes no time  searching for a career and struggling to decide, and so there is "reassurance and calm."

 

In a place called Kurobane on the Nasu plateau
lives an acquaintance of mine
so we set off across the plain,
taking the straightest course we can
towards a village visible in the distance,
but it begins to rain and grow dark
so we spend the night in a farmhouse.                                                              
As light comes we again set off through the fields.
A horse has been left out to pasture.
Our sighs reach a man cutting weeds,
a husband of the fields, but not unkind, and he says,
“How can I help? You know, these fields divide one way and another,
and travelers new to the area may find it difficult to stay on the path.
I’m worried, so you take this horse and where he stops let him return,”
he said, as he loaned us the horse.

 

This “husband of the fields” seems content with his life. When two strangers come wandering through his fields, he stops working to chat with them, and is even willing to loan them his horse with no guarantee that it will return.

 

Two little ones follow in the footsteps of the horse,
one a tiny princess who says her name is Kasane,
an unfamiliar name but a gentle one

 

We see this is a Time of Peace; small children are not afraid of strangers – also, Dad was doing childcare while farming. Kasane is fortunate to have a father like this. The kindness of father together with the openness of daughter combine to form an image of peaceful village life - and we note how unusual this is, for most of the books we have in the West say village life at this time was “constant humiliation and back-breaking toil…”  Agricultural history expert Sato Tsuneo and the other authors in Tokugawa Japan and historian Susan Hanley paint a much happier picture:  villagers cooperating for the prosperity of all, peasants in Japan as well off as peasants anywhere in the world at this time.

 

In this province behind the temple Uganji
are traces of the priest Butcho’s hermitage…
As we lean on our staffs to go see them,
more and more people proceed to come along,
most of them young -- so the road becomes boisterous
until without noticing it we reach the foothills . . .

 

The Zen priest Butcho was staying a few minutes walk from the hut where Basho moved to in the winter of 1680.  Basho apparently went to Butcho's place to meditate and study with the priest, although there is no evidence that Basho committed himself to Zen Buddhism now or at any time in his life.  (See E-5 FRIENDS IN ZEN). Basho portrays human interaction, being with young people so vigorous and high-spirited that he forgets where he is. Later on in this passage, Basho talks about ancient Chinese Zen monks, but I am more interested in the liveliness of these ordinary young people which so captivated the poet.


From here we go to the Lifekiller Stone.
The custodian of the castle sends us by horse.
The man leading my horse says,
“Might I receive a vertical poetry cord?”

 

Since ancient times, tanka have been written on rectangular cards. For the shorter haiku, slender vertical cards have come into use. The man’s request shows an awareness of developments in contemporary poetry and of Basho’s role in them, an awareness Basho is pleased to find out here in the boondocks. Nakane Chie notes that, “in China and Korea scholarship was a prerequisite of the upper-class group” but in Tokugawa Japan “the people were stimulated to develop a vigorous popular culture.” So Basho is showing us that in his time literacy and even knowledge of poetry reached the peasants.

 

For so gentle a request I write,

 

Pull the horse
to the side of the field!
hototogisu

 

This haiku is discussed in F-16 HORSES and F-18 BIRDS. 

 

Lady Tamamo was a courtesan of a 12th century Emperor: “Her body mysteriously always smelled wonderful, and her clothes never became wrinkled or dirty. Tamamo was not only beautiful, but also infinitely knowledgeable in all subjects. Although she appeared to be only 20 years old, there was no question she could not answer. Because of her beauty and intelligence everyone at court adored her and the Emperor fell desperately in love with her.” But then the Emperor became ill. An astrologer discovered Tamamo was actually a witch-fox in human disguise who had seduced the Emperor in a devious plot to take the throne. Suddenly she disappeared from court. Warriors tracked and killed the fox who turned into an enormous stone that killed anything that touched it – until a Chinese priest exorcised Tamamo’s evil spirit.

Does this story sound ‘for real’? Probably not. That’s the point. When we hear an old story about a woman found to be a witch, we can be pretty sure the story has gone through many tellers – invariably men – who have embellished it for their own purposes. A “witch” usually turns out to be an intelligent woman who wanted to decide her own life, which so irritated the local men that they declared her a witch and killed her. History tells the story from the men’s point of view. It sounds like someone very powerful got very envious of Tamamo. Who was the real woman behind this legend? Can we ever know her story as she would have told it?

 

The Lifekiller Stone lies where a mineral spring
emerges from underneath the mountain.
The Stone’s poisonous vapors have yet to seep away,
and bees and moths of many sorts died and piled up
till the true color of the sand cannot be seen.

 

The lies and half-truths glued together by malice and sexism have died and piled up till the true color of a woman cannot be seen.

 

According to legend, women and girls centuries ago in a village in Fukushima produced the famous mottled Shinobu-zuri pattern by rubbing dye on two-layer silk on a certain rock with an intricate checkered surface.

 

Children from the village come by and tell us,
“A long time ago the stone was on top of the hill,
but people coming and going so tore up the barley
to try their hand at rubbing, that the farmers got angry
at the experiment and rolled the stone down here
where it fell face down.”
Well, that sounds like it could have happened.

 

Basho and Sora came here hoping maybe to see some ‘traces’ of the ancient cloth dyeing -- but all they could find was some old rock half-buried in the ground. Their young informants explained, in their rustic northern dialect, in that breathless way children tell stories, that hordes of sightseers tore up the surrounding barley fields to rub on the rock and see if they could get some color (huh?) that the farmers, annoyed with the damage to their fields, eliminated the tourist attraction altogether.

 

Basho uses dialogue to convey the character of people: the words of the farmer who loaned them his horse reveal the kindness and consideration of this village leader; the words of the man pulling their horse show

his knowledge of poetry. These children at Shinobu managed to tell a complicated story in clear simple words so this strange old guy from who knows where could understand. Basho is showing us that children in these days, even out in the boonies, were bright and lively and communicated well. He always sees the positive in humanity.

 

The two Sato brothers died defending Yoshitsune from his enemies.

 

Nearby, in an old temple, remain the tombstones
of one family. Among them, the stones marked
for the wives of two brothers are especially pathetic.
Although they were women, so the fame of their
sturdy diligence shall be heard with awe in this world,
we shed tears on our sleeves.

 

What did these women do to deserve such praise? They went on doing the best they can for their children and household. Basho focuses his attention on the women in history, and asks us to retain these stories of female “sturdy diligence” so future generations can know them.

 

From the bath we go to our lodgings, a poor miserable hut
with thin straw mats on a dirt floor. Having no lantern,
we lie down by the light of the sunken hearth.
As night deepens, rain falls continuously, thunder roars,
the roof leaks on us, and fleas and mosquitoes bite us;
with sleep impossible, even my chronic disease acted up,
until I nearly fainted.

 

Later on, Basho and Sora find a stone marker for an ancient castle now in ruins:

 

Mountains crumble, rivers flow on, new roads built,
stones buried and hidden in the earth,
trees grow old to be replaced by young trees,
Time passes and eras change,
so traces of them cannot be confirmed.
Yet here, without a doubt, is a memorial of 1000 years.
Now before my eyes, the hearts of ancient people.
One virtue of travel, the joy of being alive.

 

Islands beyond count, towering like fingers to heaven
or lying flat on their bellies across the waves
some pile up in double layers or fold in triple,
branching right or stretching left,
some carry behind, some hug in front,
beloved children or grandchildren.
The pines are deep green and so bent by the waves
their crookedness seeming to be inherent --
the scene as a beautiful women adorns her face.

 

Basho describes the beauty of Matsushima Bay, considered one of the three most beautiful scenes in Japan, with a parade of lively active verbs, describing imagery of women and children. The earth, like a woman, adorns herself with green make-up.

 

The hero Yoshitsune, his wife and infant daughter, and sixteen retainers, died on a hilltop 500 years before Basho came here

 

Yes, in this High Fortress, Yoshitsune and his select retainers took refuge — great achievements of the moment to become clumps of wild grass.

 

 

From Narugo Hot Springs we cross Babypee Barrier
into Dewa Province. This being a road few travelers use,
the gate keeper looks at us with suspicion,
but finally opens the gate.
We climb a long slope and as day is ending,
find a border guard’s hut and ask to stay the night.
For three days battered by wind and rain,
with nothing to do, on this mountain we abide.

 

Our host says “From here into Dewa
across high mountains the road is hard to distinguish,
so you better hire a guide. “Okay,” I reply.
We ask around and find a superb young man.
Wearing a curved sword and carrying a staff of oak
he strides before us.

 

This young hunk in his youthful male vigor practically strides from the page with his “superb” body, sword, and staff.

 

“Uh oh, today something is going to happen,”
is my bitter thought as we come behind. Just as our guide said,
the mountains so thickly forested not one bird sings,
dark as night under the trees. . .
pushing through clumps of bamboo grass,
wading streams, stumbling across boulders,
our bodies bathed in cold sweat,
eventually we reached a village on the Mogami River.      
Our guide tells us,
“On this road there’s always trouble.
I am happy I was able to see you here safely,”
and so joyfully we part.
Still to hear these words makes my chest throb.

 

What a nice young man! strong, helpful, polite to old people. He could use his strength to bully, but instead he uses it to help people, and this makes him happy. He too is a product of the Pax Tokugawa.

 

For the Cove of Kisa drenched by rain so common on this gloomy coast facing Siberia. Basho envisions the tragic beauty of Lady Seishi, one of the Four Great Beauties of Ancient China, born in 506 BCE - 22 centuries before Basho - said to be most beautiful when frowning, and the men in her life gave her plenty to frown about.

 

Matsushima like laughter, Kisagata like a grudge;
Sadness added to loneliness to torment the soul of Earth.

 

At the provincial barrier gate at Ichiburi, west of Niigata City

 

As I pull in my pillow to go to sleep,
from the next room to the front
I hear two young female voices.
An older man joins in and from their conversation
it seems they are play-women from Niigata
on a pilgrimage to the Ise Shrine.

 

Contrary to male scholars' assumptions, these women are not traveling prostitutes in elegant kimono; they are indentured to a brothel in Niigata, but do not take this occupation on a pilgrimage. Only as pilgrims, in pilgrim’s robes, would they be allowed to pass the provincial barrier gates.  For more on the lives of "play-women," see article C-5 MY BODY HAS BEEN SOLD.

 

The man came as far as this barrier
to see them off and will return tomorrow
so while writing letters for him to take back
they speak of this fleeting existence:
“As white waves strike the shore drifting along,
in the world of prostitution reduced to misery,
our vows inconstant,
how did our everyday karma become so wretched?”
these words I hear as I enter sleep.

 

The play-women’s lament expresses the misery of all women enslaved to the sex trade: The degrading pretense of sex withoutt vow of fidelity. The speaker claims no understanding of karma—since no human can actually know what is destiny and what is the result of personal choice or the actions of others—but she wonders—as every woman trapped in sexual slavery must wonder—how could her life have turned out this way?

 

The next morning as we start out, they approach.
“The safe way unknown, road we travel is gloomy,
the uncertainty makes us sad…
May we follow in your esteemed footsteps,                                      appearing and disappearing?
By your robes, we see your holiness.
Would you share the Blessings of the Compassionate One
and tie the bond that brings us into Buddhism?”
they ask with tears falling.
With pity for them, I reply,
“we must visit too many places. Just follow the way people go.
Certainly you will be under the Gods’ protection.”
So we abandoned them, the pathos unceasing.

 

Also see article C-6  PLAY-WOMEN FROM NIIGATA.

 

At a place where Basho and Sora can either stay on the main road to Kanazawa or take a side trip to see a place famous in an old poem, a local advises them:

 

“From here it’s about a 12 mile walk along the shore,
in the shadow of that mountain.
There’s only a few squalid fishermen’s huts
and no one will give you a place to stay.”

So we stayed on the road to Kanazawa.

 

Sora has taken ill in the intestines and since he has relatives in Ise,
at Nakashima, he rides on ahead.
The sadness of one leaving, the anguish of one staying,
like wild ducks parting to lose their way in the clouds...

 

The next night I stay as a pilgrim in the temple Zenshoji…
Sora stayed here last night. He left this verse for me.

 

All night long
hearing the autumn wind
from hills in back

 

I too listen to autumn wind, lying in the monks’ quarters,
with the approach of dawn clear voices chanting sutras,
then to the sound of a gong we enter the dining hall.

 

Basho uses sound sensations to convey the feeling of a Zen temple in the early morning -- however note that he remained in bed (on a futon) to hear the monks chanting; he did not get up to attend the service. 

 

Today in a hurry to reach Echizen,
as I step down from the temple…
several young monks holding paper and ink stones
pursue me to the stairway.

 

As Basho steps down the temple stairs to the ground, the young monks “pursue” him (another active lively verb) eager to get a poem from Basho poem (in our time, it would be a selfie). He focuses on the vigor and enthusiasm of these young, bald headed men.

 

There being only three leagues to Fukui,
after supper I set forth, faltering on the twilight road.
Here once lived an old hermit named Tosai.
In what year did he came to visit me in Edo?

 

More than ten years ago it was.
I wonder how old he has become or if is he not dead?
When I ask someone, he tells me.
“Oh, he’s still alive. Over that way,”
Enticed into a hidden corner of town,
I find a dubious shack grown over with clinging vines and gourds, cockscomb and broom trees blocking the door.

 

“Yeah, in here, for sure.”
When I knock on the gate a forlorn old lady emerges.
“From where hast thou come, pious monk,
on thy pilgrimage? The master hath gone
to visit someone in the neighborhood.
If thou hast business, call on him there.”
I figure this must be his wife; as in that tale of long ago.

 

Eventually I find Tosai and stay there for two nights.
When I travel on to see the moon over Tsuruga Harbor,
he comes along his kimono skirt tucked up in a funny way,
my high-spirited guide to the road.

 

By morning the sky has cleared, and I am taken by boat
to Iro Beach to gather small colored shells.
It is seven leagues across the bay,
but a man named Tenya, with greatest care,
has provided box lunches and bamboo sake flasks,
and put many servants on the boat,
so in the time it takes the wind to pass, we arrive.

 

Tenya operates a tour boat business, so here he provides his usual service to Basho for free.  

 

On the beach are just a few fishing huts
and a small desolate temple of the Hokke sect.
Here drinking tea and warming sake,
we endure the lonely twilight feeling.

 

 

Rotsu came up to this bay and accompanied me to Mino.
Rescued by a horse, we entered Ogaki town.
Sora from Ise came to meet us,
and Etsujin made his horse fly here.
We all gathered in Joko’s house.
 Zenzenshi, Keiko father and sons, and more,
 day and night came to visit,
as if meeting a resurrection,
 all the more joyful, all the more caring.

 

Basho pours in the humanity, filling the cup to the brim with humanity.  He  summarizes his ideal for humanity 

 

               “all the more joyful, all the more caring”
         且よろこび、且いたはる。    katsu yorokobi, katsu itawaru

 

 They summarize most of the people Basho met on this journey: we recall Sora, the innkeeper Gozaemon, the farmer and his daughter at Kurobane, the horse guide, the young folks on the road to Uganji, the children at Shinobu, the wives of the Sato brothers, the young hunk who guided them through the mountains of Dewa, the play-women from Niigata, the villager who advised them to stay on the road to Kanazawa, the wife of his old friend in Fukui and Tosui himself, Tenya, and finally Rotsu, Sora, Etsujin, and the rest. So we say Basho is the poet of humanity. 

 


                                basho4now@gmail.com

 






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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...
• Women in Basho
• 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
• 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