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  >  Praise for Women  >  B-01


Basho’s Appreciation for Women

24 Basho portraits of female experience: 日本語もRomaji too

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

 “Basho shows an appreciation for women far beyond what we have been led to expect from a Japanese man of this era”  said Bronagh, my research assistant from Ireland.

 

Historian Louis Perez expresses the standard view that in Japan, “the literary elite (which certainly includes Basho) scarcely alluded to commoner women at all, and if they did it was mainly in a pejorative sense” – yet  Basho wrote hundreds of poems – a few haiku but many. many renku  praising women, I believe the earliest and most numerous, diverse, and insightful praise in world literature. 

 

For this article I have chosen 24 Basho poems – seven haiku, 15 single stanzas of renku by Basho, and two stanza-pairs in which Basho wrote both in succession -- all of these to validate Bronagh’s insight rather than the standard view. Here are no stanzas by any poet other than Basho; I have sought single stanzas which suffice by themselves, without the adjoining stanzas in the renku sequence, and also without the more extensive commentaries I have provided elsewhere in the category Praise for Women.

 

May these brief sketches empower women and girls worldwide, as well as deepen men’s appreciation for the power and integrity of women throughout time. To change Basho’s reputation away from “impersonal nature poet” to “poet empowering women” makes him part of the Resistance working for a humane POTUS and Senate. 

 

 

Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself

 

世の愛を / 産みけん人の / 御粧
Yo no ai o / umiken hito no / onyosui

 

A women makes herself beautiful before giving birth to the child she loves.

The "endless desire and inbuilt passion for visionary women to express their passion for pageantry." 

 

 

That my face
resembles my mother’s
fascinates

 

吾顔の / 母に似たるも / ゆかしくて
waga kao ni / haha ni nitaru mo / yukashikute

 

As Gregor Mendel studied peas to discover the nature of inheritance, Basho studies the human face, and is fascinated by descent through the female line.

 

Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow

 

手枕に / ほそき腕を / さし入れて
Ta-makura ni / hosoki kaina o / sashi irete

 

Lying in bed beside him and maneuvering her hand and arm into the space beneath his neck, watching his face for any signs of awakening, she epitomizes the gentle, caring nature of woman’s love.

 

Basho wrote the following haiku at Hase Temple,  a famous place of pilgrimage for women to pray to Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy:

 

Night in spring -
one hidden in mystery
temple corner 

 

春の夜や / 籠り人ゆかし / 堂の隅
Haru no yo ya / komori hito yukashi / dou no sumi

 

Over there, in a corner, someone barely seen in faint lantern light sits in communion with the Goddess.  Who is she?  Why has she come here alone at night? What is she praying for? By making a poem about the hidden woman, Basho eulogizes her; she becomes eternal.

 

Harvest moon
passing over lake, seven
Ages of Woman

 

 

名月や / 海にむかえば / 七小町
Meigetsu ya / umi ni mukaeba / nana Komachi

          

As the bright full moon passes over Lake Biwa from eastern mountains to western mountains,         

each position of moon gives a different scene. Basho imagines the succession of scenes as seven stages in a woman’s life: for many women these are infancy, school girl, lover, mother, elder, crone, and second infancy. We join with him in conceiving the life of a woman as divine.

 

Arising to blow
on embers, the wife
of a bell ringer

 

おきて火をふく/ かねつきがつま
Okite hi o fuku / kanetsuki ga tsuma

 

 

Her husband wakes up the town, but Basho has eyes only for the wife, getting up in the freezing winter dawn to, like a goddess, wake up the hearth fire with her breath. She may be blowing directly onto the coals, or through a bamboo tube. Throughout the ages in every land before gas, electricity, timers, sensors, remote and automatic controls, women have gotten up early to awaken the fire as the wife does here. She is eternal, a goddess of fire, proclaimed by bells

 

The grief of Rika for his wife:

 

                                                   

How he huddles
under the futon, cold
 horrible night
 

 

被き伏す / 蒲団や寒き / 夜やすごき
Kazuki-fusu /futon ya samuki / yo ya sugoki

 

The alliteration of ‘h’ sounds contains the feeling of huddling, lying curled up on one side, holding in the warmth around the chest and abdomen.  Getting between the quilts, shivering till my old blood warms the space so I can sleep. All alone where she used to lie nearby. The nights long and bitter, and sun brings no warmth till late morning. Basho captures the experience of anyone who has lost a spouse in winter.

                     

 

Though my thoughts

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

 

 

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


A teenage girl: “the turmoil of young love takes away all my appetite, but mother insists I eat, to build up my body.Why can’t she understand that I cannot eat while this turmoil rages within me?  Mother, stop bugging me!” The “generation gap” in Japan 300 years ago.  Daughter thinks about love while mother about nutrition, so no meeting of minds. May this help each see the other point of view


 

Drunk on blossoms 
woman wearing man’s jacket 
puts in a sword

 

花に酔えり / 羽織着て刀 / さす女
Hana ni yoeri / haori kite katana /sasu onna

 

She borrows a padded haori coat from a man and puts it on over her kimono, adding some bulk to her chest, shoulders, and arms, making her look manly. At a working class party are no samurai and no swords, but she pretends with something long and thin. She inserts it under her obi, the thick brocade sash around her waist. Then she does the ever-popular “Hey you guys! See how long my sword is” sending the party into hysterics. Woman having fun. 

 

 

Crone waves a fan
over the food she cooked
cool evening ease
 

 

飯あふぐ / 嬶が馳走や / 夕涼み
Meshi augu / kaka ga chisou ya / yuu suzumi

 

The peasant returns from working in the summer fields,  Watching his “beloved wife” (aisai) “bestow her heart” (kokoro tsukai) on the food, he enjoys the evening cool and waits for the food.” Basho scholar Kon Eizo recognizes the psychic energy, the love, the old woman bestows on the food as she waves her fan over it. The scholar reveals that this is a love poem, not the love of young people at the beginning of their search, but the love of an old couple near the end.  

 

A warm wind

swaying side to side
willow hair

 

あち東風や / 面々さばき / 柳髪
Achi kochi ya / men men sabaki / yanagi kami

 

This is both the long slender hanging branches of a willow tree in spring and the hair of a women swaying side to side as she walks

 

Gradually
helped to sit up, she
combs her hair

 

漸漸と / かきおこされて / 髪けづり
You you to / kaki okosarete / kami kezuri

 

Recovering from illness, running the comb down her long black locks, she feels health returning to her body.

 

Wrapping rice cake,
with one hand she tucks
hair behind ear

 

粽 ゆう / 片手 に はさむ / 額髪
Chimaki yuu / katate ni hasamu / hitae-gami

 

This is Basho’s Mona Lisa, his most graceful hidden woman. With delicacy and precision he highlights a single moment in the flow of a working woman’s life.  She is the Center. 

 

Weaving folded,
at back door she lights
flower incense

 

機たたむ / 妻戸に花の / 香を焼きて
Hata tatamu / tsumado ni hana no / ko o yakite

 

Finishing an piece of fabric she has woven on a loom, she folds it neatly, then goes to the door between kitchen and outdoors to light some incense and make the kitchen fragrant.

 

Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet

 

声澄てみて / 北斗にひびく / 砧哉
Koe sumite / hokuto ni hibiku / kinuta kana

 

Pounding cloth to soften it, to produce a sound that reaches the Seven Stars, the heart of the woman at work must be exceedingly clear.

 

Lighting lantern
and providing a mallet
to each daughter

 

火とばして / 砧 あたがう /子供達
Hi tobashite / kinuta atagau / kodomotachi

 

She provides to the next generation light and a tool to make slender arms and hands more powerful. 

 

Soundly so soundly
the babe in remembrance
is put to sleep

 

つくづくと / 記念のややを / 寝させ置き
Tsuku zuku to / katami no yaya o / nekase oki

 

The baby is a memento of her husband who has died. The two kinds of sleep – nocturnal and eternal – blend in Basho’s stanza. Putting the child down, she wonders if in sleep baby will travel to that other world to be with father.

 

Cherries in bloom
again she climbs the hill
to his grave

 

はな咲けて / また来てのぼる / 塚の上
Hana sakete / mata kite noboru / tsuka no ue

 

Each year in this season she comes here to climb the hill of her grief.

 

Kite string cut
soul of the milk-giver
soars to heaven

 

切れだこに / 乳人が魂は / 空に飛
Kire-dako ni / menoto ga tama wa / sora ni tobi

 

The bond between mother or nurse and baby breaks when one of them dies. The spirit parts from the body as the colorful kite leaves earth.

 

Sister cries
for her life married
to a thief

 

盗人に / 連れ添う妹が / 身を泣て
Nusubito ni / tsuresou imo ga / mi o nakite

 

Who is this “sister” and what are the circumstances of this “marriage”? Basho’s few words lead us to explore the oppression of women.

 

To quiet down
the unsettled heart
of the daughter

 

定らぬ / 娘のこころ / 取りしづめ
Sadamaranu / musume no kokoro / tori-shizume

 

A compassionate and understanding mother manages to say the right words in the right tone down her daughter.

 

Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus

 

ゆるされて / 女の中の / 音頭取り
Yurusarete / onna no naka no / ondou-tori

 

Women harmonize with a leader so their sound goes far. Basho encourages women to express their solidarity.

 

“Lingering on. . .”
she takes down the doll and
looks at her face,
Again starting to weep
the cough of consumption

 

名残ぞと / 取置 雛の / 顔をみて /
また泣入りし / 労咳のせき

Nagori zo to / tori oku hina no / kao o mite
mata naki irishi / rougai no seki


A woman dying of tuberculosis looks at the doll she played with long ago and remembers her healthy youth. Or a mother whose daughter lingers on with the disease recalls her childhood. Or perhaps the daughter has died, but memories linger on of that horrible hacking cough.

 

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

 

顔ばかり / 早苗の泥に / よごされず/                                                                       乳をのむ膝に / 何を夢みる

Kao bakari / sanae no doro ni / yogosarezu
chi o nomu hiza ni / nan o yume miru

 

This young peasant woman emerges from the fertile paddy to nourish her child from her breasts. Her entire body is soiled with mud, but still she tries to keep her face clean, for baby to behold. As the tiny mouth sucks her nipple, she gazes at the eyes and forehead to see the dreams within.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com






<< Hiding from Sight (A-20) (B-02) Woman with Goddess >>


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