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  >  Love and Sex in Basho  >  C-02


Lovers in Love 

36 Basho Love Poems

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

Here are twice as many love poems as in article C-1, enough poems to overwhelm you and drive out any notions you have of Basho being austere or detached or impersonal.  Enjoy.

 

Basho did write a few haiku on romantic love, but these are not so interesting. To experience his vision of lovers in love, we must look into his linked verse: first here as a single stanza by itself:

 

Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow

 

Lying in bed beside him, carefully maneuvering her arm under his head without waking him, gazing at his face watching for any signs of waking, such is her kindness and devotion. For Higashi Akimasa's comments on this stanza see article C-1. A single stanza, without the baggage of the previous stanza, can apply to a wide range of circumstances: EASING IN can be a woman with her lover, either male or female, but can also be a mother with her beloved child. On the other hand, together with the stanza that spawned it, the meaning is more specific:


Summoned to the palace
ashamed by the gossip

Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow

 

Sora was writing about the rivalries among court ladies at the Imperial Palace, and we recall the opening chapter of the Tale of Genji where the Emperor summons a young woman, Kiritsubo, to his bed, but other ladies, led by his senior consort, the Kokiden Lady, spread rumors about her; being women themselves, they know exactly what to say to shame a young woman, and she eventually sickens and dies. Basho, however, chooses life, not death. In spite of the gossip about her and the shame she feels, this woman manages to love the Emperor with all the gentleness in her heart. Basho empowers women to overcome bullying and shame by concentrating on her feminine power both delicate and sensual.

 

Face of farm wife
chattering on and on

Smell of garlic
cannot be approached
yet still in love

 

The season is mid-summer; garlic is eaten to keep away mosquitoes.  

Basho sees beyond stereotypes to the endless diversity of human character and relationships.

 

The boss pretends
not to see their love
yet he knows

Figures half hidden
behind the umbrella

 

Walking together in town, the lovers are surprised to see her (or their) boss coming the other way. He is cool and does not say a word, but her Japanese heart shrinks with haji -- shyness, bashfulness, embarrassment.” Haji is the Sun Goddess hiding in her Rock Cave or any woman today covering her mouth or eyes with her hand. Here she clutches the handle to make the umbrella cover as much as possible without any movements that might make the boss look. Miyawaki Masahiko, in Basho’s Verses of Human Feeling, says,

This is probably the only following stanza that so well expresses the sense of shame

felt when one’s love becomes known to others.”

 

Furthur discussion in article C-1. 

 

Folding the robe she wore,

placing irises in the folds --

A daughter named
San, afterwards, her
thoughts of love

 

This is the robe she wore when she was with him. Irises in clothing in storage keep away bugs, but her thoughts here are more romantic. Hidden in the link is the teenage girl’s experience of first love.


From threads so slender
love becomes intense --

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

 

Kyokusui speaks of any age or gender, how love starts out simple but somehow becomes “intense.” Basho switches to the first person with a stanza that makes the most sense if she is a teenage girl. “Although the turmoil of young love takes away all my appetite, mother insists I eat, to build up my slender body. Why can’t she understand that I cannot eat while this turmoil rages within me? Mother, stop bugging me!”

History books never tell us about the conflicts between mothers and adolescent daughters long ago, so we look to Basho’s linked verse for information. 300 years ago or today, the daughter is concerned only with love, the mother with nutrition, so there is no meeting of minds. May this stanza-pair be a lens through which mothers and daughters realize both sides of their inter-generational conflict.

 

Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself

 

The Complete Interpretative Anthology of Basho Renku comments: “Basho speaks of the beautiful form of mother giving birth to a child who receives the love and affection in the world.”


In these scribbles
I see ... is the name
of your darling

 

In graffiti written on the wall at an inn, I see a woman’s name written with so deep a love that it is visible in the scribbles. I smile at this evidence of love in someone I have never met nor ever will – as I speak Basho’s stanza across the barriers of space, time, and circumstances to the writer of the scribbles. In the long pause in the middle segment is Basho’s consciousness of love.

 

Cherries in bloom
again I climb the hill
to his grave

 

Each year when cherry blossoms are in bloom, she comes here and climbs the hill of her grief.

 

Wretched in love

little sister gazes at
the evening sky

In those clouds, whose
tears are contained?

 

Big brother’s question really has no meaning, but may somehow console the lovesick sister.


Winter solstice on porch
my desperation for love!

No matter how
I make up and dress
he gazes not back

 

The Sun at its most distant point from us, his heart so distant from mine, how my desperation increases. I use all my skill with cosmetics and clothing, and look at him with all the charm I can muster, yet he does not return my gaze.

 

Traces of snow
cleared off by the wind,
moon in haze

Her futon rolled up
she dreams of love

 

She sits on the floor mat leaning against the futon –in evening, still rolled-up -- wondering about, wishing for love. The futon behind her pelvis suggests what is rolled up inside that pelvis.

 

Blackwood smoldering
shack hidden in a hollow

To whom can she
be given as a bride?
her thoughts of love

 

Blackwood burns slowly, giving off dark smoke which accumulates over the walls, ceiling, and inhabitants in this shack in a mountain hollow where the sun never shines. Who will marry a girl so grimy with soot and rickets from vitamin D deficiency?

 

In a haze he worships
beauty of female form 

From the far north
the groom a frustrated
wordless butterfly

 

A groom has been adopted from the far north where there are no attractive women but many bears. Able to speak a few words of Japanese, frustrated in trying to communicate with his bride; he just stands there, “a wordless butterfly in a haze” gazing as the beauty he has been given.

 

Writing a letter
to his first beloved,
his hand falters

Accustomed to the world
the monk makes its risqué

 

Hormones confuse the youth's eye-hand skills so he cannot manage the elegant phrases and calligraphy to impress her. He asks a  monk to write the letter for him, but  the monk being experienced in these matters, writes in sexual allusions the boy cannot understand -- though the girl might.

 

With her wide
open eyes she can get
a thousand koku

Before he vanishes
she grabs his stirrip

 

She knows how to use her eyes to charm a man. A 1000 koku is a decent income for a samurai, not great, but livable. Her chance for 1000 koku about to ride off into the distance, she acts boldly and vigorously to keep him here.

 

Not letting on his boots
rain falls at day break

As they part,
ever so delicate and
fascinating

 

“Stay, stay, stay – just a little bit longer.” She has a  delicacy and fascination which makes men feel protective and want to stay with her.

 

In her haste
nowhere can she find
the lamp oil

She steps on his boil
so parting is wretched

 

She has the lantern but stumbles about in the dark searching for the bamboo flask of oil. Then she steps on his boil, which is excruciatingly painful for him. When finally he leaves, they do not feel so comfortable with each other.

 

Village showers
bisexuals go crazy
either way

People die for love
the wind makes a sound

Water flowing
on sleeves cannot put out
the great fire

 

“Showers” are rain that fall suddenly and unexpectedly, and stop soon, leaving us drenched and cold, suggesting ejaculation. Basho says that even with only heterosexual relations, people die for love -- so the wind makes a sound. As we put up our hands to cover our eyes when we cry, tears fall on our kimono sleeves, so “water flowing on sleeves” means tears. The great fire, whapped to a frenzy by the wind, could not be put out by the tears, so someone died. This was written in 1665; the great Meireki fire burned down Edo nine years earlier.

 

She grabs some bran to
wash oil from her hands

The bill collector,
if only he had such
a heart of love

 

Japanese, both men and women, applied camellia oil to their hair so it would be glossy and hold a style. 

The hairdresser uses rice bran to remove this oil from her hands. The bill collector needs a physical, sensory, feminine “heart of love” rather than that masculine heart of money.


 

Oh so many
disappointments
assail me

The mirror reflects
my laughing face

 

Sunk in misery, she make a laughing face, actually a grimace, into the mirror, a mockery of laughter, which the mirror reflects.


My beloved
sends me this letter
I rip to shreds!

The face of a demon
I cry at the sight

 

Unable to endure the message in the letter, I tear it up, then am shocked to see in the mirror the demon of my jealousy.

 

Wretched in the dew
my wife’s fallen hair,

Speaking to her
in the mirror her face
still I can see

 

Fallen hair” means the wife has died – for a woman’s hair contains her life force. “Dew” is the forces of wetness that rust, corrode, and wear out all things. She looked in the mirror so often it holds a copy of her face – or maybe the husband and wife were so in tune with each other that their faces came to resemble each other.

 

While crossing this river
I meet my deceiver

From the Deep North
a thousand to pull the rock
which is his heart

Who shall pick up the love
I am throwing away?

 

I meet him by chance on a ferry boat; the situation is not very comfortable for either of us, although the river goes on flowing. The rock so heavy it can only be moved by a thousand men pulling on ropes tied around it; so I can never bring his heart to mine. With no possibility of fulfillment, I can only throw away the love I feel.

 

Basho wrote both of these stanzas n succession, so they are the equivalent of a tanka:

 

Although summer
neck sinks into collar
thinking of love
An account of my prayers
shows they are worthless

 

Basho expresses emotions through physical actions of specific body parts; “her neck sinks into her collar” is a physical sensory avenue to her inner feelings: not only is she disappointed by the failure of gods and Buddha to fulfill her desires: she no longer believes they listen at all, or that they even exist.

 

She waits in vain
upon words hard as nails
false and cold

With her sleeve she sweeps
dew from her forelocks

 

His clear definite promises – “hard as nails” –were all a sham; his heart was never in the words. She can wait here forever; he does not care. As things get cold in autumn, dew is heavy – but “dew” here means “tears” and also impermanence and disappointment, wearing out and decaying all things, both living and non-living, so the young grow old and bitter. Basho’s verb in Japanese is more than simply “wiping away” the tears, but rather a bold and vigorous “sweeping away” of all that heaviness.

 

Taro patch torn up,
the wild boar returns

Child of poverty
learns to wait for love
in the autumn wind

 

Wild boars are stout, heavy, ungentle beasts with vicious tusks. The tuber taro grows in patches of enormous flappy leaves shaped like elephant-ears. The boar really wants the underground starchy corms – however the leaves get in the way. The mess of ragged and torn elephant-ear leaves suggests, to Basho, the turmoil in the heart of one who waits in vain for love. His stanza -- with or without the wild boar one -- goes out to all impoverished youths who learn to wait for love in a thin jacket allowing in the chill wind.

 

As the owl
comes out from hiding
to grasp love

Her tears shall compare
to horse chestnuts falling

 

The daughter in a box hides in her house, as an owl hides in the forest, occasionally heard but never seen, until she emerges swiftly on silent wings to discover love. Basho is pessimistic: she will only find sorrow. Horse chestnuts are large, bulky, and misshapen.

 

With her heart? she writes
his name in cursive script

Turning aside
from lantern, faces hide
from each other

 

The Japanese says she writes his name (either writing with actual ink, or making the forms with her finger) in kana (actually hiragana) the cursive and phonetic Japanese writing used by women; ordinarily a man’s name would always be written in formal Chinese characters or kanji. So long as his name is in kanji, he remains in the male world; by writing it in kana, she brings him into her female world.  Either he is her lover, or the one she desires to be her lover. She cannot possess him now, but by forming  the letters of his name in feminine cursive style, she does “with her heart” possess him.  

 

Basho brings the him and her together, but “hiding from each other.”  Teenagers, being new to the world of sexuality, feel shame (or  embarrassment or shyness) at being seen by a possible lover.  His stanza abounds with physical space and body parts in complicated action – yet is a sketch, a few brush strokes and lots of blank space for us to fill in from imagination.   Each of the two faces turns away from the light, and also away from the other.  Basho sketches the physical components of the shame so crucial in the Japanese mind and throughout this “shame culture”: he seems to see this sort of shame  in both young female and young male. 

 

I am one person in                    
a floating world of love

When I try
to speak of this desire,
only stutter

 

The term "floating world" is very common in Japanese culture and poetry; it suggests the transcience 

of reality: how everything we have disappears.  If only two people could be together in a 'floating world' of love, then the two of them would ride the waves of change together -- however one person alone must go through changes in one direction, while the other goes through different changes.   Basho's stanza is rather abstract, then Ranran goes for the body and physical activity.  "One person" tries to tell the other of the love felt in heart, but the intensity of feeling makes the mouth stutter. (Stuttering occurs mostly in males (although one prominent female, Marilyn Monroe, had this problem). 

 

Comes a dream
of woman cutting her
jet black hair

Love seen through, moon
over morning glories

 

Disappointed in love, she cuts her hair, and her spirit sends this message to his dreams. She sees through the false love she thought was real, realizing that such love disappears as surely as the moon fades into the morning sky and gorgeous blue morning glories wilt to become refuse in the rain.

 

So many changes
have occurred in my
love affairs

In this floating world
all end as Komachi

 

Ono no Komachi, said to be the most beautiful women Japan ever produced, ended up a lonely old hag. She went from having plenty of hot romances to none at all. She regrets the loss of those attributes which used to bring her love.

 

Pines require good soil drainage, preferring sandy soils, so they often grow near the sea where they suffer furious winds.


Waves cover the rock
then they reveal it

As the pines
are battered and twisted
such is love

 

The ‘rock’ is his heart -- one minute clear and trustworthy, the next minute hidden and unreliable. The turmoil in my heart as he keeps on changing signals is what the pines close to the sea endure during storms. This Basho is so passionate!

 

The Japanese for “pine,” matsu, also means “to wait” i.e. “to pine,” so poems on pine trees often suggest waiting for love, and the double meaning works in English as well

 

The Sun sets
then Moon shines between

the waiting pines

More than laughter
tears are consoling

 

After the sun sets on a romance, the moonlight is the passion that remains between two hearts. Basho makes sunshine laughter and moonlight tears. Instead of joking to cheer up the one sunk in misery, it is better to speak of the loss, and allow tears to console – for a new day will come with sun rising through the pine forest.

 

Green willow her hips
and hair like willows

Tired of waiting
wind through the pines
also is yearning

 

Her hips and hair, as slender and flexible as willow branches covered with young green leaves sway sensually in the wind. She waits for a lover who does not show, her unfulfilled desire so intense it fills the wind.

 

Are these pines
on Love Cape? the daughter’s
wedding ornament

Her vows everlasting
as divine shining snow

 

Not an actual place name, “Love Cape” describes a long narrow strip of land jutting out into the embracing sea. The wedding ornament on a stand resembles an island, symbolically the isle of eternal youth, with a arrangement of pine, bamboo, and plum, which do not wither in winter, so they represent strength and, perseverance, the qualities expected of a wife. The daughter’s marriage vows are as sincere as fresh snow is pure white; may they last as long as the pine tree, said to live for a thousand years.

 

Among the pines
each pair of lovers lies in the cemetery,
their vows to share wings and entwine branches
in the end become thus, the sadness overwhelming
Whoever we are or how sincere our vows, all end in the cemetery.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Love and Sex in 17 Basho Renku, (C-01) (C-03) The Beast with Two Backs >>


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