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-18


Martial Arts

1 Basho haiku and 6 renku on sumo, archery, and sword

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

Judo, karate, and Aikido were created in the 20th century. Sumo, archery, and arts of the sword are ancient, and their appearance in Basho renku should interest those who practice martial arts today.

 

Young and helpless
with bow and arrows,
the boy kneels

White hair seen through
gaps in bamboo blind

 

弓 と 矢も / まだいたいけに /膝 まずき
白髪 さし出す / 簾 の あわせむ

Yumi to ya mo / mada itakeni ni / hiza mazuki

Shiraga sashidasu / misu no awasemu

 

 

The newest student at an archery dojo kneels on the floor, feeling small and weak. We imagine the dojo where tall powerful men strut about with dangerous weapons, making the boy feel the way he does. He kneels, hips resting on heels propped up on feet with toes forward, a position of alert readiness, struggling to keep his skinny back and shoulders straight, with all the maturity and resolution he can muster against the intimidation.

 

The white hair seen in long horizontal gaps between thin bamboo stalks tied in parallel belongs to the boy’s grandfather who hides behind the screen to watch without the boy knowing. He understands that his grandson must not see him, for this would interfere with the boy’s training. How does he knows this? Granddad is an accomplished archer – in Japanese, a shihan – who has trained in this dojo since he was a child. As the old man watches, he can see himself young and helpless 50 years ago today. He sees how that little boy became an aged master. So we cooperate with the poet to fulfil a vision. The original two stanzas express a profound human truth: the grandparent’s compassionate concern for a grandchild, a bond which passes through to the third generation.

 

Spring arrives late in
sacred Nachi Mountains,

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

 

那智の 御山 の / 春 おそき 空
弓はじめ /過ぎる 立てたる / 息子哉

 

Nachi no o-yama no / haru osoki sora
Kyuu hajime / sugiru tatetaru / musuko kana

 

 

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. (Comparable to ‘who can pee the furthest?’)

 

At the Sanjusangendo temple in Kyoto, samurai competed to shoot the most arrows in a 24-hour period to hit the target.

 

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

The grass of love weakens
his arm for archery

 

浮かれたる / 女 に なれて / 日をつもる
矢 数に 腕の / よわる 恋 草

 

Ukaretaru / onna ni narete / hi o tsumoru
Ya kazu ni ude no / yowaru koi kusa

 

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.


The warriors’
sword exhibition
gets violent
Woman soon cry out
so they are banished

Appearance
warped by a mirror,
her resentment

 

武士の / 刃祭りを / 荒にける
女はなくに / 早きとていむ
様あしく / 鏡の ひづみ /たる恨み

 

Mononofu no / yabai matsuri o / ara ni keru
Onna wa naku ni / hayaki tote imu
Sama ashiku / kagami no hizumi / taru urami

 

At a matsuri, or Shinto festival, warriors exhibit their skills while also dedicating them to the gods. The men in the audience get a thrill when warriors wave about long sharp swords, but while the women know it’s a show, they still respond with real emotion. Men cannot stand it when women make a fuss, distracting from the solemnity and also disturbing the entertainment, so they forbid the women from attending. Basho transforms the contrast between show and reality into the “resentment” of a woman seeing her beauty marred by an imperfection in her mirror. Warped images in a mirror are not reality, they disappear without a trace -- but still the partial loss of the beauty she has carefully cultivated brings her anguish.

 

 

 

Once more he is thrown
Maruyama marked black

One side of go board
all over eastern Kyoto
blossoms scatter

 

又なげられし / 丸山の色
片碁盤 /都の東 /はなちりて

 

Mata nagerareshi / Maruyama no iro
Kata go ban / miyako no higashi / hana chirite

 

Maruyama was a famous sumo wrestler in Basho’s time. A victory in sumo is recorded with a white circle, a loss with a black circle. Basho jumps from sumo to the board game of go, from Maruyama the wrestler to Maruyama a section of eastern Kyoto famous for cherry blossoms. The objective in go is to surround the opponent’s stones and remove them from the board. Here the one playing black is totally overwhelmed: white stones are everywhere on one side of the board, as if all the blossoms in the eastern half of Kyoto have fallen. Those of you who watch sumo, or play go, or hang out in Maruyama: this verse is for your especial enjoyment.

 

Besides the moon
village sumo contest
is rained out

 

月 のみか / 雨に 相撲 も / なかりかり
Tsuki nomi ka / ame ni sumou mo / nakari keri

 

For the harvest moon, villages hold sumo contests – the men and boys wearing only loincloths, so we see their ‘moons’ -- but this year there is only disappointment in the village. We need to focus more on Basho verses like this, verses that portray humanity.

 

Dew as his opponent
sword drawn in a flash

Town notables
together getting drunk
under blossoms

 

露を相手に / 居合ひとねき
町衆の /つらりと酔って / 花の陰

 

Tsuyu o aite ni / iai hito nuki
Machishuu no / tsurari to yotte  / hana ni kage

 

Basho uses the word iai for a practionarer of the martial art we now call iaido, the art of being aware and quickly drawing the sword.  I have no experience of iaido, and I hope practitioners of this art will allow me to follow Wikipedia:

 

 “The origin of the first two characters, iai (居合), is believed to come from saying Tsune ni ite, kyū ni awasu (常に居て、急に合わす), that can be roughly translated as "being constantly (prepared), match/meet (the opposition) immediately". Thus the primary emphasis in 'iai' is on the psychological state of being present (居). The secondary emphasis is on drawing the sword and responding to the sudden attack as quickly as possible (合).

 

In Basho’s stanza, the swordsman watches the dew on a blade of grass with all the concentration he has developed through years of practice. The instant the dewdrop parts from the grass, he whips out his sword to cut the air and return to its scabbard before the dew drop hits the ground.  Basho portrays the feeling in the Iaido master. 


Iaido is a reflection of the morals of the classical warrior and to build a spiritually harmonious person possessed of high intellect, sensitivity, and resolute will.

 

Rather than follow Basho with a similar stanza, Yaba goes to the opposite pole. Instead of a single person disciplining himself to spiritual unity and resolution, he presents a group of town government VIPs getting drunk and stupid at a picnic. In a letter to his old friend Ensui, Basho condemns the blossom picnics in

 

“this government place where the rich and famous
are noisy and insulting”

 

and Yaba expresses a similar opinion. Both the dew in Basho’s stanza and the cherry blossoms in Yaba’s are symbols of transience, one of autumn, the other of spring. The swordsman uses the transience to discipline himself to an ideal humanity, the picnickers just get bleary-eyed and tipsy in transience.

 

So, were these verses "lessons" in martial arts? Please respond.

             
e-mail: basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Dreams of War / Light of Peace (A-17) (A-19) Poems of death >>


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