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  >  Poetry and Music  >  E-13


The Flow of Renku

Five Quintets by Basho and others

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

Renku in Basho4Humanity are mostly stana-pairs isolated from the long sequences in which they were written.  These quintets provide more of a flow yet still focus on the links.


When linked verses are given in full 36 stanza sequences without commentary, the reader may enjoy the flow of words and images like a montage, making no attempt to understanding the stanzas and their links,

or trying to understand but unable to see the point.  I am experimenting how to weave my commentaries into the originals to bring you the most appreciation. I hope the way in this article works for you, and you will tell me so. All the stanzas on one two-page spread are as the poets wrote them. The sequence is divided into four stanza-pairs (AB, BC, CD, DE) with commentary after each pair. As always in Basho4Humanity: 


Basho’s words are  bold,

the other poet’s words  not bold. 



Green Leaves sequence (1678), #s 11 to 15

From blossoms
naked seeds return
to their roots

Bath water bottom
dragon palace spring

 

Seeds from fallen blossoms lose enter the ground to join their original roots -- as my naked body enters the hot tub. Because water refracts light away from a straight line, and water movement distorts my vision of things, my body and the water around appear magical. In the legends of the Sea God’s Dragon Palace, it is time, rather than space, which magically changes; one day equals a century, and the four seasons occurs simultaneously in the four corners of the palace.

 

Bath water bottom
dragon palace spring

Roadhouse hooker
or Sea-God’s daughter,
which is she?

 

The Sea-God has a daughter steeped in the magic of her father’s realm. What about the servant girls who cook food at roadside rest houses and also provide sex to travelers? Are they immoral whores? Or are they – all girls carrying the future -- daughters of the divine?

 

Roadhouse hooker
or Sea-God’s daughter,
which is she?
Age of the Gods unheard
love for a hundred coins

 

The “sea-god’s daughter” (like the “farmer’s daughter”) suggests that she “puts out” -- as does the roadhouse hooker. Because men listen not to the Gods, they purchase “love” from hookers. A hundred coins was about 2000 yen or 20 dollars today; a paltry fee to pay for a quickie at a roadside rest area.

 

Age of the Gods unheard
love for a hundred coins

Bowing with respect
to that precious treasure,
the Pillow Book

 

Basho would rather read the words of a woman divinely inspired, Sei Shonagon in her Pillow Book. This is a collection of her opinions – and she has an opinion about everything. Male chauvinists hate it when women express an opinion, so it is quite feminist for Basho to praise this book in particular. He says the reading the Pillow Book is better than sex.

 

Chikusai sequence (1684) #s 8 to 12

Till her hair grows back
she must hide her self

In the bitterness
of delusion, squeezing out
milk to throw away

 

He seduced her with promises of love and devotion, but when she gave birth to a son, he took the boy to be his heir and abandoned her. With no place else to go, she entered a temple which takes in such women. She had to cut her hair and stay in a cell. Only when her hair has grow back can she can re-enter society. Her breasts still have milk which she has to squeeze out and throw away – while she recalls the baby that milk is produced for – such is the bitterness in her heart.

 

In the bitterness
of delusion, squeezing out
milk to throw away
Beside unfading stupa
in distress she cries

 

The “delusion” is that reality will be kind or fair to us. A stupa is a pagoda-shaped wooden tablet set up by a tomb, on which phrases from a sutra are written for the repose of the dead's soul. This, unlike her baby, will remain.

 

Beside unfading stupa
in distress she cries

Shadow figure
in the cold of dawn
lights a fire

 

Basho pulls back from the overt heaviness of Kakei’s stanza with a bit of warmth and light. Scholars agree that that the identity of this “shadow figure” cannot be determined. From the previous stanza, I believe that the spirit of the dead child has returned for a moment to warm and console mother with the gift of fire. Later in life, whenever she builds a fire, she will feel her child’s presence.

 

Shadow figure
in the cold of dawn
lights a fire

Empty house, the owner
taken away by poverty

 

Tokoku makes the shadow figure a vagrant who has found an empty house whose owner has succumbed to poverty and disappeared; he burns the cabinets and shelves and other wood lying around so he will not succumb to hypothermia. Both the owner and the vagrant are shadows, vestiges of humanity, leftovers after the dignity has been squeezed out.

 

Summer Moon sequence (1690) #s 4 to 8

Ashes brushed off
single dried salmon

In these parts
silver coins unknown
what a bummer!

 

The woman at a roadside rest area serves the traveler a meager repast; she is careless and lets ashes from the fire get on the fish, so she brushes them off. We understand that this is a cheap and not very clean establishment. The traveler is shocked when he tries to pay for the fish with a coin which she rejects because she has never seen one before.

 

In these partrs
silver coins unknown,
what a bummer!

Absurdly long sword
hangs from his waist

 

We see what sort of person he is: Ueda says “a young dandy, handsome and well-dressed, who is too conceited to earn his living by working industriously. We wears a long sword to show off his identity and drifts from place to place looking for a gambling house. Now in this remote little inn, he sneers at the country folk who do not even recognize a silver coin, common-place to a gambler”

 

Absurdly long sword
hangs from his waist
Evening dusk
startled by a frog
in thick grass --

 

Boncho adds more pieces to the puzzle: this jerk is awfully impressed with himself, but has no cojones to go along with his sword: the movement of a frog in the grass beside the road strikes terror in his skinny chest.

 

Evening dusk
startled by a frog
in thick grass 

To pick buds of coltsfoot
lantern shaken goes out

 

Basho switches to the female. She is on her way to gather flower buds of the fuki plant, coltsfoot, like small artichokes, an early spring delicacy which emerges where snow has melted. Fried or boiled they are eaten with salt or miso. Since the time is evening, she carries a lantern. The frog’s movement startles her so she jumps back in surprise, knocking out the flame. There she is, hidden in the twilight, her heart trembling within her. The woman’s experience, her actions and her feelings, are central, yet hidden, in Basho’s vision.

 

Nearly Autumn Sequence (1694) #s 18 to 22

Socks taken off to dry
air shimmers from wall

At New Years
we take along our
little buggers

 

We took our kids along with us making New Year calls, but really they do not want to go. We told them to keep their clothes clean, but somehow their socks got sweaty. I hang the socks on the garden wall in the New Year’s sunshine; moisture and odor from them rises to form “shimmers” in the air.

 

At New Years
we take along our
little buggers

Though meaning we hide
they stand and listen

 

Socks and wall disappear. As we talk, we hide our meaning in a maze of adult words with references to people and things they know not – but how much do the highly attentive language sponges pick up? Adults think that language comprehension requires knowledge of each word’s individual meaning, but children get the meaning from context. The link between the two stanzas leads us into the nature of language and intelligence.

 

I change the pronouns in the third stanza because the female orientation of the fourth stanzas requires this.

 

Though meaning he hides
she stands and listens

Above lantern
the pale white of her
complexion

 

The rule in renku is ‘seperation from the second stanza before’ – C relates to B but eliminates A. So the New Year and the children are gone, replaced by a man leaving his lover’s house before dawn. He hides his meaning from her while she “stands and listens” to discern his heart. As she lifts up her lantern to better see him, her face turns white as she realizes his true intentions hidden by artful words.

 

Above lantern
the pale white of her
complexion

Upon tatami the lute
put down with a thud

 

Basho makes the woman disappointed by love play a sad piece on her lute , then put down the instrument; we hear her exhaustion in the thud her instrument makes on the slightly yielding tatami mat; ordinarily she would put it down as silently as a cat walks, but disappointment has sapped her strength so gravity wins for an instant before she regains control. From ethereal face above lantern, Basho creates a solid, distinct sound: thud. 

 

Monkey’s Raincoat Sequence (1694) #s 28 - 32

Bright red cockscomb
In front of the garden

To quiet down
the unsettled heart
of the daughter

 

In Japanese gardens cockscomb flowers so deeply red, so vivid and bold a red, that every eye is drawn to them, all the more so at the garden’s entrance. Red, the color of passion, suggests the turmoil in the heart of a teenage girl. Basho creates that emotional turmoil, along with a compassionate mother to calm down her daughter.

 

To quiet down
the unsettled heart
of the daughter

Night sweats have stopped
in this morning’s dream

 

“The daughter broods over thoughts of love, upset to hysteria. We imagine her shaking all over, possibly because of a marriage proposal she dislikes. The blasts of adolescent hormones produce night sweats, copious perspiration which soaks her nightclothes and bedding, usually accompanied by emotional crying. Her mother – or someone like a mother –manages to say the right words in the right tone to soothe and settle her down.”

 

Night sweats have stopped
in this morning’s dream
Pine breeze
awakens the chorus
of caged birds

 

After the daughter calms down and falls asleep, Shiko creates the dreams which soothe the turmoil and return the brain to normal as a new sun rises. She awakes to bird song from a row of cages along with a breeze from the pines near the house. This is a wealthy mansion.

 

Pine breeze
awakens the chorus
of caged birds

Carpenters start to work
heard by wife deep within

 

The daughter and her turmoil disappear; now we see only the wife. She hears carpenters beginning their work in another part of the house – but that does not interfere with the peacefulness in her part of the house – so again we feel the size and prosperity of the house. The sound of carpenters in her home, but far away, makes the wife at daybreak feel calm and peaceful, relishing her family’s prosperity along with the bird song and cool breeze.

 

Basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< My First Renku Journeys (E-12) (E-14) Boncho, Basho, Kyorai >>


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