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  >  Humanity and Friendship  >  D-15


The Life and Death of Chine

Excerpts from Kyorai’s Ise Journal, Chine’s death poem, Kyorai’s response, Basho ode to Chine’s existence.

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

Chine was the younger sister of  Kyorai; passages from Kyorai’s Ise Journal, including four poems of Chine, reveal the exuberance and playful heart of this young woman in Japan of old. The trio of her death-verse, her brother’s response, and Basho’s ode to her existence, are a testament to the warm feelings among these three people.

 

Kyorai, the second son of a doctor of Chinese medicine, was born in 1651 and Chine about nine years later. With his older brother taking over their father’s medical practice, Kyorai had lots of free time. He helped out in the clinic, did things about the house, and was active as a follower of Basho (another second son with leisure time). Meanwhile Chine and her sisters helped their mother in her household labors.

In the autumn of 1686 Kyorai took Chine on a pilgrimage to the Ise Shrine, central shrine of the Sun Goddess. He later sent a copy of his Ise Journal to Basho so Basho could write an Introduction. The journal is an absolutely unnoticed gem, not only a literary gem, but also a gem of anthropology. Kyorai observes his 26 year old sister as she learns the world outside her parents’ house. Sensitive to her feelings, supporting her with positive energy, and paying attention to the poetry she writes (far better than his own), Kyorai transcends the patriarchal assumptions of his society. In Japan at this time young women were trained to stay quiet, smile, and nod to what the man says. Feminist historian Tokuza Akiko says,


“criticism of women’s intelligence, autonomy, and moral worth was essential to the total subordination of women that society demanded.”

 

A pretty grim prognosis, but Kyorai appears to have been an exception (as was Basho).

Tokuza continues:

 

“Parents thus protected their daughters’ chastity and morality by isolating them both from men and from rational and critical thought.”

 

Chine’s parents however, allowed her to go on this journey, and she seems quite capable of rational and critical thought. Anthropologists should take note.

 

                                          The Ise Journal begins:

 

The sun hot yet wind cool on our heads,
I take my younger sister on a pilgrimage to Ise.

 

Until Ise
such good companions,
morning geese

 

The genius of Chine’s verse is in the double meaning: “Kyorai and I are good companions” along with “wild geese are our good companions.” The feeling she has watching a flock of geese fly in the direction they are walking, and her feeling for her brother, become one. Affection between adult brother and sister occasionally appears in old-time literature – Ophelia and Laertes in Hamlet, Sebastian and Viola in Twelfth Night -- but the circumstances in these plays are extraordinary beyond belief. The brother-sister bond portrayed in the Ise Journal is unique in literature because it is so ordinary.


Kyorai and Chine stay at an inn:

 

The innkeeper’s wife is such an uba.
She turns her face toward us and shouts
“Fresh from the mortar! Before they cool down!”
Chine cannot stop laughing.

 

Uba, “old woman” suggests a former wet nurse, a rather earthy sort of woman (think Juliet’s Nurse). I love the sound of uba (rhymes with “tuba”) here. The innkeeper’s wife was making mochi rice cakes: kneading the mass of cooked rice in a mortar where her husband pounded it with a mallet, then molding into a cake with a surface soft and smooth as a baby’s bottom. At this time women used face powder containing white lead to fill in the wrinkles and obtain a mochi-hada, skin as smooth as mochi.

 

On behalf of the innkeeper Chine writes:

 

Kyorai says it is the innkeeper’s job to advertise his wife’s rice cakes, but Chine does that job for him in the following tanka:

 

If you will not
remove that face powder,
when oh when
can we see the wrinkles
in your uba mochi?

 

Chine uses the classical form for her hilarious look into women’s concern for their aging skin. Change “uba mochi” to “old woman’s skin,” and you will see what 26 year old Chine is saying to this uba in her fifties or sixties. Shoko comments that Chine’s verse is onna-rashiku, “womanly, feminine.” I, like Chine, cannot stop laughing.

 

For the following night, Kyorai writes

 

This being Chine’s first time away from the realm of our parents,
in sympathy with her upset, I say what I can to divert her.

 

Kyorai actually pays attention to his sister’s mind and heart. Where else in male literature is there such a record of male consideration for a woman who is not his mother or romantic interest? Basho seems to have had much affection for his seven-year-younger sister Oyoshi – since he often mentions her in his letters -- so he can easily appreciate Kyorai’s feeling for nine-year younger Chine. If you too have a younger sister, you may also feel as they did.


Another night, another inn:

 

In a house across the way, young and old women gather to hull rice while singing until late night, with the door open, we hear them.

 

At each lodging
the rice-hulling songs
are different

 

On her first journey, Chine learns of human diversity— that people only one day apart do the same work, to different songs. Her verse is anthropology in its purest form.

 

Beside the river near Ise where Basho wrote 202 WOMEN WASHING TARO, Chine complements that verse:

 

Put in water
hands better be wiped,
the autumn wind

 

Chine is so fundamental, so sensory, so conscious of her hands: where skin is wet, how the wind penetrates! In our time we provide warm water to many people, yet still hundreds of millions in the temperate zone who work in unheated water can appreciate her hands’ awareness of the need to wipe them well with a dry cloth, so they can endure the work for decades of the four seasons.

 

We change our clothes and fix our hair
then with deep respect go to visit the Inner Shrine.
Our eyes could not be parted from the scene…
In the evening we buy souvenirs for everyone
and so it became night.

 

It is not appropriate to wear dirty travel clothes or loose hanging hair when visiting the home of the Sun Goddess. Just like their descendants traveling today, Kyorai and Chine buy souvenirs for the folks at home. And so ends our time within Kyorai’s journal.

 

Chine’s journey with her brother was her final fling before marriage. She had one daughter in 1687, but in the summer of 1688 when Basho was in Kyoto he learned that Chine was gravely ill. Her brother used all his medical skill, but still she passed away. Chine’s jisei no ku or “farewell to life” poem was:

 

Easily glows
and easily goes out
a firefly

 

Kyorai responded to his sister’s poem with:

 

On my palm
sadly goes out
the firefly

 

Simple words to express Chine’s humility and Kyorai’s grief.

 

While in Gifu I hear that Chine has passed away
so I send these words to the home of Kyorai.

Now the houserobe
of the one who is gone—
airing in the heat

 

Clothing gets musty in the warm moist summer, so one sunny day everything is hung outside to “air in the heat.” Basho cannot be with Kyorai’s family in their grief, but he sends them an image which transcends the distance between Gifu and Kyoto. One of Chine’s kosode, a simple kimono for household wear, is being kept as a memento and is hanging outside with the rest of the family’s clothing. The traces of Chine’s being linger in the fabric she wore, gently dispersing in the warm breeze.

 

Chine’s laughter resounds through the centuries. May her light continue to shine in our thoughts.

 

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Letters to Kyorai (D-14) (D-16) Hospitality >>


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