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  >  Praise for Women  >  B-14


Female Icons in Four Seasons

Three Basho Haiku and One Renku Stanza

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

The 200 woman-centered poems by Basho are a priceless cultural legacy. Nowhere else in world literature written by men can we find so much praise for the life and consciousness of ordinary women.

Editorial consultant Ceci Miller notes Basho’s “clear respect, affection, and even reverence” for women.

 

In this article are four examples of Basho portraying a woman as an icon of the feminine, a symbol for something greater than her individual life. The four poems depict women in summer, autumn, winter, and spring, so they represent an entire year. Whatever race or mixture you are, whatever gender, whether straight or gay, whether or not you know haiku or any Japanese literature, these icons are your sisters.

 

The rice cake known as chimaki, originally made for an early summer festival, sets this haiku in the humid heat before summer rains. Hair over the forehead, neither cut nor tied up, parted to flow down either side of the face, while a woman works, can fall before her eyes.

 

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

 

Chimaki yuu / kata-te ni hasamu / hitai-gami

 

A mother preparing sweets for the children bends over a bucket of rice cake, forms into cones, wraps leaves of bamboo grass around each one, and ties with a strip of rush – however “wrapping rice cake” can be a symbol for any sort of work a woman does with stuff on her hands she does not want on her hair.


Some of her long hair moist with sweat has come loose from the band in back and fallen before her face. Her fingers and palms are coated with residue. Without thinking or breaking her stride, she reaches up with the clean surface on the side of her hand above the thumb and forefinger to place the hair behind her ear – with nothing getting on her hair.


Women in every land and every time where hair is worn long make this precise, delicate, and utterly feminine movement with the thumb side of the hand around the ear. Whether you are woman or man,

with hair long or short, make the movement with your hand and you will recall exactly what Basho is showing us. The verse strikes a chord of recognition in anyone who reads it with attention.  About this haiku in particular, my former research assistant Bronagh McCloskey said, “Basho shows an appreciation for women far beyond what we have been led to expect from a Japanese man of this era.”


WRAPPING RICE CAKE is Basho’s Mona Lisa, his most graceful hidden woman. Only Basho has the delicacy and precision to draw such a moment out from the flow of a woman’s everyday life.

 

Fabric from hand-spun yarn was rough in texture, and when washed had to be pounded with a wooden mallet so it would dry soft and wrinkle-free. The sound of mallet pounding cloth could be heard in

all villages where yarn was hand-spun: the sound of a woman at work. a sound Basho paid attention to in many verses:  


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet

 

Koe sumite / hokuto ni hibiku / kinuta kana

 

So often the moon appears in Japanese poetry, but the moon is, as Juliet puts it, “inconstant.” She begs Romeo,


Oh swear not by the moon, ‘th inconstant moon
That monthly changes in her circled orb
Lest that thy love prove likewise variable

 

Basho also wants something more stable in the night sky for these sounds from a woman working on Earth. What could be more stable than the Big Dipper, always and forever pointing to the North Star, a fitting symbol for the constancy of women? To produce a sound so clear it reaches the Seven Stars light years away, the heart of the woman doing her work, hour after hour, year after year, must be exceedingly clear.

 

TONE SO CLEAR offers women at work on cloth an avenue to a greater Power in the sky. Chant the nine words, a passageway through heaviness and oppression to the divine, accumulating power to the final word “mallet.”


It may help to remember that the Big Dipper is the ‘Drinking Gourd’ escaped slaves followed to freedom in Canada; to keep on their way North, they repeatedly chanted “Follow the Drinking Gourd” – the very best advice they could give themselves. Can this power from African-American heritage flow through Basho’s haiku to us today? If you will it, it can.


Traditional Japanese homes have an irori, or hearth, a square stone lined pit filled with sand, built into the center of the floor in the main room. The irori has many uses, especially in winter. It heats the room, it provides a spot to grill, cook or bake food, heat or boil water, or dry clothes. The family gathers around it. It dries the timbers of the house, preventing rot, fungus and wood disease, preserving the house for hundreds of years.


Before the woman of the house went to bed, she banked the fire in the hearth, covering the coals with ashes so as embers they remain alive till morning when she awakens them with her breath.


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

 

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: 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. Even today when modern technology has replaced the fire, we can still receive her iconic power through Basho’s words.

 

Basho wrote the next haiku at Hase (Hah-seh) Temple, a famous place of pilgrimage for women to pray to Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy. Kannon originally, when Buddhism existed in India, was male, but as the religion spread through China to Japan, the common people changed him into a goddess to heal their sorrows. Anthropologist Michael Ashkenazi says of Kannon, “for most people she (yes, “she”) carries

the possibility of restoring and continuing life.’’ Kannon to Catholics, is Mary. Women commonly pray to the Goddess of Mercy for love, to bear a child, for a child to succeed in school or life, or for relief from hardship.


Night in spring --
one hidden in mystery
temple corner

 

haru no yo ya / komori do yukashi / tō no sumi

 

Spring has progressed until even the nights are warm and tranquil; it is a time to find solace and renew hope. Taking off our shoes at the entrance, we step quietly onto the finely polished hardwood floor. Before us rises the 30 foot tall statue-in-relief of Kannon carved from a single log of camphor, the largest wooden image in Japan, the compassion in her face and figure radiating throughout the temple.

 

Over there, in a corner, someone barely seen in the 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; as conduit between spring and Goddess of Mercy, she herself

becomes eternal. This woman and her prayers to Kannon convey a tender mystery known in temples and churches throughout the world -- this world where men make decisions but men are inconstant,

and all women can do about it is pray to a goddess for compassion.

 

NIGHT IN SPRING creates a link between women suffering long ago and women trapped in the same patriarchal system today.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com







<< Empowering Women (B-13) (B-15) Six Renku Icons of the Feminine >>


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