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  >  Basho Himself  >  E-02


20-year-old Basho

Basho's youthful consciousness in his first renku sequence

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

Haiku, in spite of their world-wide fame, are only a small part of Basho’s poetry. Here we discover 11 Basho stanzas from the first renku sequence he participated in, in Spring of 1665.  

 

The majority of his verses are stanzas of renku, or linked verses, composed by a team of poets, each writing one stanza in succession, each somehow linked to the one before. Some of Basho’s most fascinating renku stanzas appear within Field by Snow, a sequence of 100 stanzas, the first sequence of the 307 Basho participated in. The year was 1665, and Basho about 21, living in his hometown of Iga. He was one of six poets; the leader of the event was Sengin, the poetry name of the young samurai Basho’s master Yoshitada, a young relative of the feudal lord of Iga Province.

 

This was 15 years before autumn of 1680 when Basho wrote his famous haiku about the crow on the withered branch, the haiku of deep wabi sabi (impersonal, desolate loneliness) which many scholars consider Basho’s first significant work. Everything Basho wrote before 1680, according to these scholars, is shallow and of little worth. I, on the other hand, have little interest in wabi sabi, and find these early poems express a profound youthful consciousness of human experience which may appeal to young people today who care not for desolate loneliness.

 

Of the hundred stanzas, Basho wrote 18 of which I present eleven, along with fifteen stanzas by other poets which lead to or follow Basho’s stanzas. I provide the number of each stanza to give a sense of where in the full sequence it appears. Basho’s first stanza – the first of 1700 renku stanzas he wrote in 29 years -- follows two stanzas about a papier-mâché doll:


4

Papier-mâché bald, but
she will not throw away --

5

Today as is,
wishing to care for it
till Doll’s Festival

6

Till the moon at twilight
shall ladle peach wine

 

兀田頼子も/捨てぬわらはべ /
けふあると/もてはやしけり/ 雛迄
月のくれまで /汲むももの酒

 

Hageta hariko mo / sutenu warawa be
Kyou aru to / motehayashi keri / hihina made
Tsuki no kure made / kumu momo no sake


The doll has lost its hair and paint, but the loving child does not mind how it looks. We feel her willpower, her drive to do something for the little one. She accepts that the doll must go, however persuades the person in charge to let her care for it until Doll Festival on the 3rd day of the 3rd Moon (early April by the Western calendar), obviously the highlight of the year for a doll. The child’s concern for the welfare and feelings of the doll is her innocence – yet she also shows maturity in looking forward to a future time.

 

Basho switches from the world of little girls to that of adult friends on this festive day drinking sweet wine in the tranquil April weather. Since the lunar month begins on the night of no moon, and Doll’s Festival is the 3rd day, the moon that night is a slender crescent that rises during the day, becomes visible in the twilight sky, then sets early in the night -- shaped like a ladle, perfect for drawing peach wine from a celestial bucket and serving to us.

 

Since the previous stanza is about preserving a doll until a certain day, Basho suggests that this wine has been preserved till Doll’s Festival, so now we -- the poets gathered together to compose this sequence of renku -- can share it under the twilight moon. Still a youth himself, he travels a child-like fantasy path to that message of gratitude and friendship. To appreciate his stanza, we must keep in mind the context of group consciousness in Japanese society.

 

Basho leaps from concern for keeping a worn-out doll to a particular day to concern for preserving a limited supply of peach wine until that festive day. Concern for future time is a mental function of adults; infants are always in the now and as children learn the nature of time. Leonard Shlain, in his book Sex, Time, and Power: How Women's Sexuality Changed the Course of Human Evolution: proposes that the human concept of continuing time originated in a prehistoric woman from two clues: the cycle of the moon together with the cycle of her menses. By synthesizing putting these two clues – one from the world, and one from her own body – she discovered how time flows from past to future, thus enabling all of human consciousness and technology.

 

Basho recognizes the clue in the moon: as we observe Luna, learning how she changes her shape and schedule from night to night, in stages that remain the same month after month forever, we learn the nature of Time; as Shlain puts it, we “see beyond the moon to the next month.”

 

The next poet followed Basho’s stanza with:

7

Calm peaceful
magical thinking cannot
be surpassed

 

長閑なる/仙の遊にし/くはあらじ

Nodoka naru /sen no yuu ni shi / kuwa araji

 

À world where the ladle of moon serves us sweet wine would be a world of “magical thinking,” a world in which when we want something we magically call it forth – as a child gives her dolls thoughts and feelings, and even has one doll interact with another – manipulating the Force -- like Yoda lifting the space shuttle from the swamp -- so it cannot be surpassed. The attraction to magical thinking comes from the ancient Chinese philosopher Chuang Tsu.

 

Magical thinking is normal in children aged 2 to 7. Susan A. Miller, Ed D. says, “During this magical-thinking stage of development, cause and effect are not necessarily objectively determined, but slanted by the preschoolers' desires. . . The most amazing part of magical thinking for young children is their belief that they can make life be anything they want it to be.”To conceive modern insights into child developments in Basho’s linked verse is a way to make his poetry come alive for us today.

 

15

Confusion
between path of Truth 
and path of Love

16

Unable to proceed
dark night of futility

 

まどはれな/実の道や/恋の道
Madoware na /makota no michi ya /koi no michi
ならで通えば /無性闇夜
narade toueba / mushou yami no yo

 

For Basho the “Path of Truth” is Buddhism, and the Path of Love is what 20 year olds

are drawn to. Mushou can be “without sexuality” or “without the temperament to attain enlightenment,” or “without the ability to reason”; I translate “futility” not because this is the same as mushou, but rather because it conveys a similar emptiness.

 

24

Unattached, the cat
outside, how she cries

25

Charcoal fire
gone out, twas cold
in retirement

 

なつかでで猫の/外面にぞ啼く
埋火も/ きえて寒けさ/隠居所に

 

Natsukade neko no / tono mo ni zo naku
uzumi bi mo / kiete samukesa / inkyosho ni

 

Natsukade is the negative of natsuku, to be attached and connected, so this cat is experiencing the loss of attachment. She expected to retire for the winter close to the hearth where the charcoal fire keeps her so warm and nice, but for some reason she is outside, freezing her paws off. Iji explains: the fire in the kotatsu went out, and inside became as cold as outside, so here she is, crying.

 

31

Moon at dawn
only my shadow figure
for a friend

32

Still deep in the night
a lonesome traveler

 

 

在昭の /影法師のみ/友として
未だ夜深きに/ひとりたびびと

 

Ariake no / kageboushi nomi / tomo to shite
Mada yoru fukaki ni / hitori tabibito

 

The moon at dawn is only a pale whiteness in the sky; it casts no shadow at all, so this human traveling in the first light of day has no friend. Basho has given the “shadow figure” an identity. At night the entire world is shadow, while no humans are on the road, so the shadow travels alone

 

38

So it will not melt
this ice we dedicate

39

New Year’s dawn
the morning sun a faint
glimmering

 

解けぬやうにと/氷りささぐる
あけて今朝 /あさ日ほのぼの /ほのめきて

 

Tokenu you ni to /kouri sasaguru
Akete kesa /asahi honobono / honomekite

 

In a Shinto ritual, the ice of winter is preserved in an ice house until midsummer, and that spirit of perseverance offered to the kamisama. The Japanese constantly exhort each other, gambatte, “persevere, hold on, maintain your strength!” Issho switches from mid-summer heat to freezing cold New Year’s Day; just before the first bit of Sun appears, a glimmer on the horizon announces the coming event. Can we expand our minds to see Sun rising from horizon as one with ice melting.

 

The stanza-pair is a poetic representation of the yin-yang symbol. Yin is dark and cold; Yang light and hot. The bit of ice in the midsummer heat is the dark spot in the white field; the sun rising in midwinter is the bright spot in the dark field. The two fields with their opposing spots together form the cycle of the year, of reality, of consciousness.

 

41

“Like the Goddess
of Spring” princess is
neat and tidy

42

Green willow her hips
and hair like willows

43

Weary of waiting
wind through the pines
also is yearning

 

佐保姫と/言ん姫御の/身だしなみ
青柳腰 /ゆふ柳髪
待ちあぐみ /松吹風も/なつかしや

 

Sayohime to / iwan himegumi no /mi-dashinami
Aoyanagi koshi /yuu yanagi-gami
Machi-agumi / matsu fuku kaze mo /natsukashi ya

 

A girl speaks of Sayo Hime, the goddess who spreads spring over the earth; she cares for her body and clothing as meticulously as the goddess forms petals on the flowers. Her hips and hair, as slender and flexible as willow branches covered with young green leaves swaying sensually in the wind; This is a most gorgeous female image – then Basho makes her wait for a lover who does not show. Notice the contrast between her willowy beauty and her unfulfilled desire so intense it fills the wind.

 

47

Starting to learn
the alphabet from
ra-mu-u-i-no

48

Foolishness has stopped,
youngster in the bedroom

 

いろはおば /らむういのより/習い初め
わるさもやみし/閨の稚い

 

Iroha oba / ra-mu-u-i-no yori /narai-some
Warusa mo yamishi / neya no osaai

 

A boy practices the classical Japanese alphabet with 48 sounds, starting with the middle of the sequence: “rah-moo-oo-ee-noh” is like “l-m-n-o-p” in our song. This is his "foolishness." But now the mischief maker sleeps. Sleep consolidates what we learn awake, so the programs are retained and available for later use. Both stanzas are about the learning process.

 

57

Starting to flirt
hair parted in the middle
long and glossy

58

So a vision emerges
her seen from behind

 

だてなりし /ふり分け髪は / のびねるや
俤にたつ /かのうしろつき

 

Date-narishi / furiwake kami wa / nobi neru ya
omokage ni tatsu / kano ushiro-zuki

 

“Hair parted in the middle” suggests a young girl; as she enters adolescence and starts to flirt, her hair becomes long and elegant. Basho “sees” through her hair to a vision of the beauty hidden to sight. Young Basho cannot forego this vision; it is an attachment of the sort the Buddha warns us against.

 

74

After such a long time
he seeks her pardon

75

An employee's
leisure time seen only
in others’ eyes

 

久しぶりにて /訪妹が許
奉公の /隙も余所目の /隙とみつ
Hisashiburi nite / tou imo ga gari
houkou no / hima mo yosome no /hima to mitsu

 

He has not visited her for a long while – but here he is now, and he obviously wants sex. Basho’s stanza is the excuse he gives her. Is he telling the truth or bullshitting? Does his job actually take up so much of his time? Or is he actually spending his spare time with another woman? If he is lying, how much else of his words are lies? Do I really want to sleep with such a liar? Which is best for me, to forgive him and go on with our relationship, or break up and go on without him? The eternal dynamic of men seeking a way into women, and women wondering about men’s fidelity.

 

84

Hand of the dancer
quietly descending

85

More than appears
small child is obedient
to the Energy

 

いとも静な /舞の手くだり
見かけより/気はおとなしき/小児にて

 

Ito mo shizuka na / mai no te kudari
Mikake yori / ki wa otonashiki /kochigo nite

 

Sengin offers an elegant image of Japanese classical dance, and Basho takes that into the world of children: The movement of the dancer’s hand expresses more, much more, than simply getting from up to down; it expresses the dancer’s obedience to ki, the Universal Energy of Oriental medicine and martial arts, the Force of Star Wars. Likewise the small child may not follow adult commands, but is obedient to that universal Energy.

 

96

Impatient with people
who provoke with words

97

When pushed
again pushing back
in a crowd

 

堪忍ならぬ /詞からかい
おされては /又押し返す /人込みに

 

Kannin naranu / kotoba karakai
Osarete wa / mata oshikaesu / hitogomi ni

 

Basho (1644-1694) counters with his take on what his contemporary Isaac Newton (1642-1727) called the Third Law of Motion – although Basho’s version is more human and personal. An eye for an eye. What goes around, comes around. You provoke me with words, I provoke you back. It gets very complicated because we are in a crowd with many different action/reactions occurring at once.

 

Consider the themes in his eleven stanzas:

The moon, time, and intoxication

The paths of Truth and Love

Our attachment to warmth

Daybreak and solitude

Ice, the rising sun, yin and yang

Women and waiting for love

Women’s hair and what is hidden

Children, learning, and sleep

Male excuses and female trust

Children and Universal Energy Personal action and reaction

 

Young Basho already had a genius for ‘linking’ through human life and consciousness.

 

 basho4humanity@gmail.com

 

 






<< Challenging the Basho Image (E-01) (E-03) Lightness >>


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