Basho's thoughts on...
• 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-08


Basho Spoken Word

45 Passages of Basho speech recorded by his followers

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

45 Passages of Basho Speech recorded by his followers reveal his thoughts about life and poetry. 

 

On the Internet in English you will find various lists of “Basho quotations," however almost all of these are haiku given on one line in quotation form, or they are passages from his prose journals or essays. The passages in this article are different: they are words Basho never wrote down, but only spoke. Doho, Kyorai, Shiko, and other followers recorded hundreds of passages uttered by their master.

 

In this article I have divided the passages into three sections

Statements about life and poetry 
About specific poems here given  
Spoken on his death bed  

 

                  Statements about Life and Poetry

 

The changes in Heaven and Earth
are the seeds of poetry.

 


Poetry is the experience
of the heart which go and returns.. .
you should know that a poem combines things

 


A verse not organized is 1000 wiggles of a tongue tip

 

 


Learn about a pine from a pine,
about a bamboo from a bamboo



It is easy to write for everyone under heaven;
for one person or two, difficult.

 



To find loneliness interesting is
the outcome of traveling a path



Rise high to enlighten the heart
then return to the common



The skillful have a disease;
let a three-foot child get the poem



The attachment to Oldness
is the very worst disease a poet can have.



Newness is the flowering of poetry.
Oldness is an aged tree that no longer blossoms



Be sick and tired of yesterday’s self



Now in my thoughts the form of poetry is
as looking into a shallow stream over sand,
with Lightness both in the body of the verse
as well as in the heart’s connection.



This is the path of a fresh lively taste
with aliveness in both heart and words

 








Only this, apply your heart to what children do




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 the 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 prefered.

 



We can live without poetry, however,
without harmonizing with the world’s feeling
and passing not through human feeling,                   
a person cannot be fulfilled.
Moreover, without good friends, this would be difficult.

 

 


 

Settling for standards and searching for reason

places one in the middle grade of poets;

one who defies standards and forgets reason 
is the wizard on this path.

 


Many of my followers write haiku equal to mine,
however in renku is the marrow of this old man.

 


 

You should see from practice that 
your following stanza suits the previous one
as an expression of the same heart-connection.

 


Link verses the way children play.
When we look, really look at Chuang-tzu
renku resembles the Way of that ancient sage.
         

                              

 

                                                (Told by Otokuni)                                                              

 

One night Old Man Basho and his followers were gathered
in the hut. Discussing elegance, one person spoke out,
“I have read ancient works in bits and pieces,
but never really explored Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book.
I do feel attracted to it.”
Hearing this, Basho said,

Well, if exploring it becomes important to you,
I hope you will find a NEW approach to her heart.

                                     

     

                                                       (Told by Doho)

 

Entering the Truth through Poetry,
we can nurture the Energy (ki ), or kill it.
Once we kill the Energy, we cannot ride it.
                                                                                           
The master said,

 

Make Poetry ride the Energy.
If you get the timing wrong, you ruin the rhythm.

 

This is to damage and kill the Energy.
At another time, he said
If you must suppress your own Energy
to write a poem, good.
                                                                                               
 All that he taught was to coax, enliven,
and nurture the Energy.

 


                                                                                             About specific poems

 

No one alive surpasses Kikaku in exaggeration,  so let us forgive him.                          

Hoarse shriek
monkey’s white fangs
moon over the peaks

 

 Basho said,

“This verse is Kikaku.”                                               

 

Salted bream
their gums so cold
a fish store         
                                                                                

‘Gums of salted bream’ is the poetry of my old age.
 The lower segment, “A fish store,” saying only that, is my style.

 


 

Poetry benefits from the realization of ordinary words

 


 

Under the trees
soup, vinegar salad, and
blossoms hurray!

                       

“As I gained some feeling for the rhythm in this verse
on blossom-viewing, I produced Lightness.”

 


 

 

On the saddle
sits their ‘little monk’ —
daikon-gathering 

                                                                           
“To have the little boy stand out in relation to the daikon-gathering
was the making of this verse”

 


Unlike our faces
may your haiku be
first blossoms                                                                                     

The physical form first of all must be graceful
then a musical quality makes a superior verse.

 


 

Kyokusui begins and Basho follows:


Well, well. . . I
sit on earthen floor
with no fleas

My name is a joke
in my native place                                                                         

As I looked into the situation in Kyokusui’s stanza,                                     
I considered what sort of person this would be,
then gave him a human character.

 


Mixed bathing
in a Suwa hot spring
twilight dim,

Among them a tall
mountain ascetic 

                                               

The following stanza fits in with the previous one,
and along with that, it stands out to the eyes.

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

A 17-year-old from Basho’s hometown wrote:

 

Do not let
spring wind knock over
the doll carriage                                                           

 Basho said,

 

“The poet from Iga has produced a scene
with the innocence of little children.
How it makes me yearn for long ago.”

 


 

Shado wrote

 

Rays of the sun

shining on the garbage
sparrow mama.

 

Basho said,   

                                                                                                                
Study this poem to discover why we should 
 favor Lightness  and detest Heaviness 

 


 

Two nights before the onset of his final disease, Basho wrote:

 

White chrysanthemum
not a speck of dust rises
to meet the eye

 

“This is a verse about the beauty of Sonome’s elegance.
Because I knew that today’s one meeting
would be the remnant of a lifetime,
I thought to watch for a vision in this hour.”

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________

This autumn

Oh how I have aged,
a bird in the clouds

 

Basho said, 

the phrase ‘a bird in the clouds’ tears my bowels to pieces

 

 

On his Deathbed

 

Here Basho’s follower and companion Shiko tells what Basho said on his deathbed, in Osaka,

four days before the end. Basho chose two teenagers, his grandnephew Jirobei and an Osaka youth named Donshu, to attend him.

 

As night grows late Basho calls to Donshu who has been nursing him
and we hear the sound of rubbing on an inkstone, so we wonder
what is going on in there.

 

In sickness:

 

On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

 

Basho then said

 

For myself I must say, as the crossover from Life to Death
rises before me, I have no reason to be writing poetry,
but as usual this path is stuck in my heart.

 

As the years passed by to half a century.
asleep I hovered among morning clouds and evening dusk,
awake I was astonished at voices of mountain streams and wild birds.
Sensations, the Buddha warns us, are a deep-rooted illusion.
Now I realize this upon myself.

 


 

After taking his medicine Basho turns to Shiko and says,


“I’ll tell this to Kyorai too, but do you remember this summer,
when I was in Saga that verse about the Katsura River?”

 

Shiko recites:

 

River Katsura 
no dust in the ripples
summer moon

 

Basho then says,

 

“This being indistinguishable from the dust
on the white chrysanthemum of Madame Sonome, 
and thinking that this too is the deep-rooted
illusion of what is gone, I change the verse to:

 

Clear cascade
into the ripples fall
green pine needles

 


 

According to Shiko in his diary Oi Nikki, on November 27th, Basho said


“As I recall my life and dying,
the mornings and evenings pressing on,
from the start a cloud towering on the water,
I do not want to end up quibbling over
this medicine or that medicine.
I shall not look back on this disease
to approve or disapprove.

(Points to his doctor Bokusetsu)

This sage’s medicine shall until the end wet my lips.



 

That night Basho asked each follower to write a poem for his night’s vigil.

.

From today the verses shall be after my death;
to this I cannot add one word of advice.

 

Many were written, but only for Joso’s verse:

 

Crouching
below tea kettle
oh the cold!

 

did Basho say in praise:

 

Joso has done it !

 


 

 

Shiko tells of Basho’s final moments and spoken words, the afternoon of November 28th, 1694.

 

The day is warm as if the sky of a small spring were returning
and Basho is annoyed by flies gathering around the white shoji panels,
so they go to catch them with bird-mochi stuck to bamboo poles.”
Basho is amused to see that some are skillful and others not,
and he says with a smile:

 

“These flies sure enjoy having an unexpected sick person.”

 

to melt the hearts of his attendants with happiness.
After this he says nothing more and passes away,
leaving each of us bewildered, thinking it not yet his final parting”

 


To die without (one’s works) dying out is to live long

 

                                                                                                     Basho quotes Lao Tzu

basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Basho Prose (E-07) (E-09) Five Final Haiku >>


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:
• 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