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  >  The Human Story:  >  A-15


To Be a Man

13 Basho haiku, 23 renku , 4 prose passages about masculinity

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

So many articles in Basho4Humanity focus on women and girls; here is one revealing the nature of adult males. 

 

On Life’s Journey 
plowing a small field 
going and returning 

 

Before transplanting rice to the paddy, the farmer lets in water from irrigation ditches. With horse or ox pulling the plow, he goes up one row and down the next, breaking up the clumps of earth and raking the mud smooth. In Basho famous haiku SUMMER GRASSES we saw what happens to the great achievements of men: they become clumps of wild grass. Would that each man forego ambition leading to war, and instead ‘plow a SMALL field’ so the women and children may go and return in peace.

 

For a moment
bridge of clouds straddles
harvest moon

This year’s rice carried
on his back, he is happy

 

A vision of the night sky, a banks of clouds forms an arch over the moon, then changes and the “bridge” is gone. In Japan this quite obviously alludes to the ephemerality at the core of Buddhist thought. From that ethereal, lifeless, vision of impermanence in the night sky, Basho jumps down to earth with ordinary male life. Tall stalks of golden rice grains are harvested in autumn, but furious early autumn typhoons may destroy the crop in one night. Here is the satisfaction of a man with his harvest safe on his back, knowing he will have food this winter. He is so down-to-earth, walking on the ground, the bag of rice weighing on his shoulders – in vivid constant to the arch of cloud straddling the moon for an instant then disappearing.

 

Mixed bathing
in a Suwa hot spring
twilight dim,

 Among them a tall
mountain ascetic

 

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-purificaton in the scalding heat. 

 

Basho seems to have realized that his stanza illustrates his mastery of renku technique: he said 

 

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

 

Who is that man?
covered by a straw mat
glory of spring

 

A beggar lays huddled under a straw mat in the freezing New Year’s weather. If not for fortune, I could be him. This man, who most people ignore or wish to ignore, has an identity, a humanity, in which Basho sees the glory of spring. His haiku appears in a letter where Basho says “Both renku and haiku should be neither heavy nor spin about.” The verse does not “spin about” aimlessly; it goes straight to its human and sociological meaning – yet is not “heavy”; it does not shove that meaning in the reader’s face.

 

Engulfed by passion

to kill younger brother

Midnight sound                       
the pine wood door
he pries open

 

The first poet with only a half dozen words creates a scene of extreme emotion and terrifying possibilities; apparently the younger brother slept with the older brother’s wife, and things got worse from there.  Such a scene is rare in renku, and presents quite a challenge to Basho.  How can he follow such passion and murderous intention?  How can his stanza “suit the previous one” with the same “heart’s connection”? 

 

Basho follows by going inside, into the sound and physical activity of the older brother prying open the door his brother has barricaded. He uses ordinary physical words – “sound” and “pine wood door” and “pry open” without elaborate construction – to make us hear the screeching sound, and to feel the older brother’s exertion driven by passion and testosterone.

 

Basho is an anthropologist studying humanity

 

Pulling leeches from ox
on a rest from plowing

Dyed black
male temple servant’s
heart heavy

 

The farmer takes a break from guiding the ox-drawn plow through thick mud to pull blood-sucking leeches from the animal’s body. Everything in this stanza is dirty, dark, backward, and infested. Basho switches to the perfectly clean environment of a Buddhist temple. This man was given to the temple as a child, but did not have what it takes to become a monk, so he stayed on as a servant. He wears black robes, follows all the rules of a monk, works as hard as any slave, and is at the bottom of the pecking order. When he takes a rest from work, his thoughts are dark, heavy, and grumbling – like leeches draining his energy. Strange the mind making these links.

 

Traces of leech bites,
scratching feels so good

A love affair
on this day of rest
can I forget?

 

The farmer returns from his day in the paddies to rest and scratch with pleasure the traces left by the mouths of leeches. I also take a day off from work, to scratch the “traces” – i.e. memories – of a love affair, so maybe they will go away.

 

Male puberty: the process of physical changes by which a boy's body matures into a man capable of sexual reproduction. In response to hormonal signals from the brain, the testes produce hormones that stimulate the growth, function, and transformation of the brain, bones, muscle, blood, skin, hair, and sexual organs, while also stimulating the libido. The major landmark of puberty for males is first ejaculation, which occurs on average at age 13.

 

Spring arrives late in
sacred Nachi Mountains,

New Year’s Arrow:
all the young sons try
to shoot the best

 

The Nachi mountains near Kumano in Wakayama-ken are famous for warrior disciplines such as archery in freezing cold weather. Archery competitions are a New Year’s ritual, and for boys coming of age, a manhood ritual. (Sort of like ‘who can pee the furthest?’)

 

The days pile up
getting used to a woman
who floats along

The grass of love weakens
his arm for archery

 

He has given up his responsibilities and spends his days with a play-woman who “floats along” – doing no real work (according to men’s idea of work), just riding the waves of sexual desire and fulfillment. All his manhood poured into her has left him unable to shoot thousands of arrows in 24 hours. He who discharges too many of one sort of arrow cannot shoot so many of the other sort.

 

Along with his tears
hillbilly’s dumb poem –

He combs his hair
with bear grease, oh what
a horrible name!

 

This hick from the boonies tries to express the depth of his love in a poem to her, but he is no Shakespeare. Bear's grease was a popular treatment for men with hair loss from at least as early as 1653 until about the First World War. The myth of its effectiveness is based on a belief that as bears are very hairy, their fat would assist hair growth in others. He wants more than just his hair to grow like a bear’s.

 

Writing a letter
to his first beloved,
his hand falters

Accustomed to the world
the monk makes its risqué

To intimately
entrust paper lanterns
to a hot spring girl

 

Adolescent sexual urges have confused his motor coordination, so he cannot manage to write the elegant phrases and calligraphy that will impress her. Basho has a monk write the letter for the youth, but the monk, being experienced in these matters, writes in sexual allusions that the boy cannot understand -- though the girl might. The next poet Kyoshi says, “Okay, Basho, if you are going to show us a monk with sex on the brain, I’ll really make it risqué.” A hot spring girl provides sex to guests at a resort. Paper lanterns are round, white, and have a light inside. Get the point? Intimately?

 

The six haiku on these two pages - all written in the final winter of Basho’s life, 1693 - each take sight of what ordinary men do:

 

Samurai’s
pungent as daikon
conversation

 

The samurai speak formally, stiffly, without the sweet friendliness of townspeople. Basho hears the sharp mouth-stinging flavor of pickled radish in their speech. Basho: the Poet of Sensation.

 

The pathos of
geese hanging from pole
this festive day

 

Today is the early winter Festival in honor of Ebisu, the diety of commerce; among the folks happily walking along the street is a man carrying the carcasses of geese on a shoulder pole, shouting “Geese for Sale!” The pathos comes from the contrast between limp hanging geese and the gaiety of the townspeople. In the center of the verse is the peddler who partakes of both gaiety and death.

 

All go out
grateful for the bridge,
a road of frost

 

The government has built a bridge from rural Fukagawa across the wide Sumida river to downtown Edo. All the men go out to welcome this new access to the power, opportunities, and pleasures in the Big City, this road of frost on wooden planks over the water.

 

Year end cleaning
the carpenter at home
puts up a shelf

 

Everybody is busy cleaning house before New Year’s that nothing new is being built, so this carpenter can take the day off to help his wife. Basho gives Life to him through the Lightness of his view. Can you see him there, doing at home what he usually does at work -- he smiles to himself. 

 

Even at dawn
of the last day, sound
of mochi-pounding

 

Japanese eat lots of mochi at New Year’s, so much glutinuous rice must be pounded with a heavy mallet on a mortar. Most work is “traditionally” done by women, however this work requires large shoulders and arms. This unknown man pounding mochi in the clear dawn sky must be so busy with year-end business and year-end partying that daybreak is the only time he can spare for the job. We hear his life-force in the sound of his mallet striking the mochi.

 

There was that
night a thief came by,
end of the year

 

365 is too many for any of us to remember, so to hold one year in memory, we associate the year with one particular event: the year he was born, the year they were married, etc. It is strange to return home and find that someone has been in the house, leaving no knowledge of his identity. – and this occurrence is recalled at year’s end, as well as long after: that was the year “the thief came by”

 

Next are three haibun, brief poetic essays, about three of Basho's closest friends: Sora, Etsujin, and Kyorai:

A man named Sora has settled
into temporary residence near here
so morning and evening, visit and be visited.
While I prepare something to eat,
he breaks off brushwood
and throws it in to help me,
and on nights when I boil tea
he comes over to pound on the ice.

 

To be sure of having millet to eat and brushwood for his fire,
Etsujin hides out in the marketplace,
He works two days and enjoys himself for two,
works three days and has a good time for three.
By nature he likes sake and when he’s drunk,
he sings of the Heike. This is my friend.

 

This Kyorai is a really lazy guy
and the grass stands high before the window,
while persimmon trees stick out over the roof.
Summer rains leaking everywhere,
tatami mats and paper doors smell of mold,
and finding a place to sleep is not so easy.
Nevertheless indeed this shadiness
has been the hospitality of my host.

 

Basho writes to Ihei on 1694

 

These days impoverished followers of mine
from Kyoto and Osaka gather about
and we eat up all the food in the house
and spend our time with great laughter.

 

He stays for two nights
before his enemy’s gate --

Sweeping away
dreams, on the field stands
statue of Jizo

Longing for a wife?

call of mountain dog

 

A warrior seeks to kill his enemy who seeks the opposite. He waits with his weapons at the enemy’s gate, never knowing when and how he will appear. His feeling can be told in one word; he is “threatened.” He must remain half awake all night long, ready to defend himself. By force of will, he sweeps the dreams from his drowsy mind. In the nearby field stands a statue of the bodhisattva Jizo, the Buddhist “Guardian of the Roads.” Michael Ashkenazai explains: “Jizo comforts those in distress, succors captives, assists all those in need … Statues of Jizo were therefore erected along lonely mountain passes and difficult roads.”

 

The warrior calls on Jizo for the strength to stay awake and stay alive. That distant lonely cry, is it real or in a dream? Is the ‘dog’ a real dog or a metaphor for man or men? Jizo “comforts those in distress… and assists those in need.” The male seeks a wife to do the same for him. Within this stanza trio is the life of a warrior: his struggles against male enemies and against nature, his use of religion to justify these struggles, then (from Basho) his longing for female love.

 

Striking the ashes off
single dried salmon

In these parts
silver coins are unknown
what a bummer!

Absurdly long sword
hangs from his waist

Evening dusk
startled by a frog
in thick grass --

 

Rough and uncultured men remove ash from a fish taken from the fireby: holding it up by the tail, and smacking the fish. The traveler is shocked when he tries to pay for the fish with a coin which she rejects because she has never seen one before. Ueda Makota tells us what sort of person he is: a young dandy, handsome and well-dressed, who is too conceited to earn his living by working industriously. He wears a long sword to show off his manhood and drifts from place to place looking for a gambling house. Now in this remote little inn, he sneers at the country folk who do not even recognize a silver coin, common-place to a gambler. Boncho says Kyorai’s gambler is so impressed with himself, but has no cojones to go with his ridiculous sword, so the movement of a frog in the grass beside the road strikes terror in his skinny chest.

 

His carriage pulls in
the neighbor’s gateway

“Fickle one,
under hedge of spikes
you must crawl!”

Now, before he leaves,

she hands him his sword

 

Boncho begins with “his carriage”—in the Tale of Genji ox-drawn, however in the 21st Century, powered by gasoline, electric, or fuel cell. She loves him and wants him tonight, but is sick and tired of him playing around with other women, so she has closed her front gateway(double meaning alert). He parks his vehicle in the neighbor’s spot to go in a side door. Between the two properties stands a hedge of a tall citrus scrub whose branches divide into twigs ending in inch-long daggers. Basho’s stanza is the thoughts in her mind: “If you want me, suffer as much pain as you caused me!!” Kyorai says the man passed through the ordeal, and they slept together. A samurai always carries his sword – except in bed. In the morning, the woman hands him the “sword” which is the manhood he lost last night crawling on the dirt like a worm. He crawls back under the hedge to his carriage and leaves. The cycle is complete

 

Cold to the skin,
unused to coin hanging
from his neck

Black hair spilling power
of a baggage carrier

 

Ensui shows us an old wandering beggar usually with no money, but now having a single coin -- with a hole in the center so it hangs on a string round his neck. In the same area, below the neck and around the chest, this strong man’s shaggy black hair spills freely. The power of this hunk who everyday carries heavy baggage for miles and miles, comes from his long shaggy hair – as when the Sun Goddess prepared herself for battle with her brother the Storm God, she unbound her hair -- as Samsom drew power from his hair before Delilah cut it off. Both stanzas are noticeably physical, material, bodily. Basho’s stanza especially highlights raw physical manhood without culture, religion, or philosophy.

 

Young and helpless
with bow and arrows,
the boy kneels

White hair seen through
gaps in bamboo blind

 

The newest, smallest student at an archery dojo kneels in discomfort among dangerous weapons, powerful instructors and older students. The boy’s grandfather knows that the boy must not see him watching, so behind a screen of thin bamboos tied in parallel, he peers through those gaps; in those long horizontal strips see both his white hair and also his concern for his grandson. If we cooperate with the poet in making this scene, that concern – which is both present and eternal --- fills our hearts.

 

Today too they play
all day giving advice

In father’s time
prosperous, the doctor’s
younger sons

 

They do no work; all they do is play and offer each other advice: “Well, you could do this…” and “Maybe so and so will help.” Basho explains their laxness; they are the twenty-something sons of a successful doctor who live off papa’s wealth with no gumption of their own, but lots of advice for others – while their oldest brother takes over papa’s medical practice.

 

Crest on the kimono
shall melt in the dew

Grown children
squabble over who
will inherit

 

The family crest represents the household unit. “To melt in the dew” is a metaphor for the household dissolving. Father has died without deciding a successor, and the adult children argue over who will follow him as head. Usually the oldest son succeeds, however if there is no oldest son, or if the family decides that he will not do a good job, another son may prevail, or someone unrelated may be adopted into the family to inherit. If everyone could simply agree and all support the same one to inherit, everything would work out and the “crest on the kimono” would continue –but no one is willing to give up their position, all their energy goes to squabbling, and eventually the family dies out.

 

A traditional Japanese house is divided in two types of floor. The entrance-way, kitchen, workspace, and storage areas have a doma or earthen floor where many layers of clay mixed with lime have been pounded to form a surface more like concrete than dirt; here people stand in their shoes, boots, or outdoor sandals. They leave their shoes in the doma to step up onto the raised wooden floor with tatami mats where they walk about, sit, or lie down in socks or bare feet. Kyokusui begins and Basho follows:

 

Well, well. . . I
sit on earthen floor
with no fleas

My name is a joke
in my native place

 

To sit on the earthen floor along with the shoes goes against all Japanese custom – it simply is not done -- but the hippie in Kyokusui’s stanza prefers to rest his butt here, rather than on old mats of reed and straw, full of fleas. Basho said about this:

As I looked into the situation in Kyokusui’s stanza,
I considered what sort of person this would be,
then gave him a human character.

 

New Year’s Day:

Year after year
worn by a monkey
a monkey’s mask

 

At a New Year’s performance, a monkey’s mask worn by a monkey changes nothing – so we repeat the same foolishness every year.

 

Two nails for clothing
lonely is the night

No one comes
to make my wife give
me leisure 

Boiling rice is a drag
and makes me cry

 

I see two nails which usually have clothes hanging on them, but now stand out in their loneliness. Apparently my wife has left me, so her clothing is gone, and my nights are lonely. I need someone -- the matchmaker who arranged the marriage, my wife’s father, someone -- to fix things up with my wife so she comes home and does the housework. Since no one has persuaded her to come back, I have to boil rice over a wood fire in the cook stove, which is really tiring and I cry because smoke gets in my eyes, and I miss my wife and the work she did. Basho communicates – with a bit of satire -- that central, all-powerful assumption of patriarchal Japanese (and most of world) society: women are for work, men for leisure. 

 

The grief of Rika for his wife:

 

How he huddles
under the futon, cold
horrible night

 

Getting between the heavy quilts, shivering till my old blood warms the space so I can go to sleep. All alone where she used to lie nearby. The nights are long and bitter, and the sun brings no warmth till late morning. Basho captures the experience of his friend Rika, or anyone who has lost a spouse in winter.

 

Morning devotions
at a family temple
the bell tolls

Another day of life
beggar on an island

 

This is a small neighborhood temple where the priest lives with wife and kids so Buddhism mixes with ordinary home and family life. “Morning devotions” includes both the husband’s religious services and the wife’s every morning chores. The temple gong struck with a wooden log emits its deep long lasting tone which fades away to nothing – as “the bell tolls for thee” who will soon die. Basho jumps from morning devotions to the seclusion men like so much, especially as they grow old. This man knows that his life can end as the toll of the gong, but he has no work to do, no connections with others, no interest at anything in the world, so he can be a “beggar on an island.”


Their engorged
stomachs now subsiding,
morning moon

Sleeping then carousing
old friends at O-bon

 

They ate and drank all night long till their tummies -- like the full moon -- could not hold any more. They took a break so their bodies could absorb all that food and drink, their aching stomachs decreasing like the moon fading in the morning sky. Basho has them sleep in the day, then go back to partying. He also explains why they have no much leisure time. They are salary men from the City who have returned to their native place for the three-day Bon festival , meeting with their buddies from long ago.

 

From his seclusion
he comes to peak in on

his wife and kids

With one song in his ears
the pleasure-quarters linger

 

He abandoned his family long ago to join the fun and games in the pleasure-quarters; he no longer goes there, but has not returned to them. Instead he stays in seclusion, without responsibility for anyone but himself. Sometimes he peaks in on them and wonders what would of happened if… then he returns to his seclusion. Sometimes in his auditory brain he recalls a particular merrymaking song along with memories   of the place where he heard and sang it.

 

Like a navel cord

his visits to Yoshiwara

shall be cut off

He resents the thunder
of the midnight drum

 

Money getting tight, after tonight he will no longer be able to rent a woman in the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters. The connection a man makes as he enters a woman resembles the connection he had in the womb with his mother. Denying one is like cutting off the other. He has enjoyed her body and spirit for one evening but cannot stay the night. A taiko, or great drum, sounds at midnight telling men they must leave the walled quarters. Parting from this woman who has allowed him inside her body, he feels like he is being born, hearing for the first time sounds of the world unmuffled by the womb, a sound like thunder which he resents.

 

Opening the hearth
the plasterer getting old
his temples frosty

 

From Spring to Autumn, the sunken hearth in the center of the room is covered with wood and tatami mat. When the year progresses to November, the hearth is opened. A plasterer comes to fill in the cracks in the hearth walls. Every year at this time, he comes to the house, but I only see him that once in a year. My brain has recorded pictures of him each year. This year I am surprised to see whitish hair on the sides of his head above and before his ears. In many men this is the first hair to turn grey then white. Hair at the temples reveals the great Truth of Buddhism, that all must grow old and die.

 

“Tomorrow to the enemy
our heads shall be sent”

Having Kosanda
holds my sake flask
one song to sing

 

Tomorrow is the battle, and they outnumber us. So our heads will be wrapped in cloth and sent to them. Tonight we have a final banquet. At Japanese banquets, one never pours sake for oneself; always another pours the sake from the flask into the drinker’s cup. My faithful retainer picks up the sake flask, ready to pour for me, as he is ready to die for me, an expression of our shared vows to fight to the death for each other and our side in battle. The “one song” suggests my awareness that this will be my life’s final song.

 

Basho4Now are five verses praising women long ago pounding cloth with a mallet on a block to soften and smooth it after washing.

Monkey showman
pounding the cloth of
monkey’s jacket

 

The incongruity is easily seen: not only is a man doing women’s work, but not even on human clothing; rather he is pounding his monkey’s fancy jacket to maintain an illusion, to make it appeal to an audience. The achievements of men seem so paltry and meagre compared to the eternal work of women.

 

Going to see traces
of house washed away

Dojo loach soup
makes him do it better
than young men

 

When we see a place where a tidal wave or typhoon has washed away a house with all the possessions of a family, we exclaim, “how weak and vulnerable is man against the forces of nature!” Dojo loach are slender eel-like fish, bottom-feeding scavengers, with some unique strengths: they can stay alive in poor-quality water,or cold water, or even periods of no water. Dojo loach are survivors, and soup made from then is considered an aphrodisiac. So old man, forget about that house washed away, have some dojo loach soup and be strong, strong in the loins, stronger than nature and time.


After several
cups of wine. . . sadly
past sunset

The moon as long ago
old friends now granddads

 

The verse is filled to the brim with male sentimentality brought on by drinking sake with childhood friends in our old village where we grew up -- each one of us now with grandkids.

 

The moon is the same moon as long ago, but we sure have changed – as seen through the haze of alcohol in each of our brains. Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset. Swiftly flow the years

 






<< Humanity on the Narrow Path (A-14) (A-16) Anthropology in Basho >>


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