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  >  Poetry and Music  >  E-15


Tanka Equivilants

11 stanza-pairs, both by Basho in succession

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

Two renku stanzas both by Basho written in succession, a triplet of 17 sound-units then a couplet of 14, with continuity of theme between the two:  the form of a tanka -- although not a tanka. The wonder of renku is the switch from one mind to another – however in these “tanka equivalents,” instead of we travel from one stanza to the next through Basho’s own mind.


Even monks
and old men regardless
forced to march
Earth pounded into mochi
a poor ritual offering

 

During the century long Warring States Period, all the men, even bald monks and grandpas were conscripted into armies. Unable to grow much food, we mix dirt in with glutinous rice to make the sacred mochi offerings to the divine spirits – who will be dissatisfied and continue to send this endless war.

 

This pair is undated, but before 1676, and probably before 1672 while Basho still lived in his hometown of Iga (now Mie Prefecture) about 50 km. southeast of Kyoto and traveled to Kyoto to study. One time, walking from Kyoto to Iga, apparently he spent the night in Mika no Hara, a place in Kizugawa, south of Kyoto, alongside the Kizu River which leads east to Iga.

 

The river wind cold
midnight to the outhouse
Leaving Kyoto
today Mika no Hara
belly painful

 

“Hara” is both “plain” in the place name, and also “belly.” Assuming that Basho is describing his own experience, we see that already in his twenties he suffered from the bowel disorder that ended his life two decades later in 1694. A poet who writes about going with a bowel disease to the outhouse (setchin, literally “hidden in snow.”) near a river on a midwinter night certainly can be called a poet of human experience.

 

Quiet temple,
on verandah is spread
a straw mat,
He measures out herbs
to trade for soybeans

 

This naturopathic monk, at the temple where he lives, accepts soybeans from local farmers in exchange for herbal remedies.

 

No longer black
she scratches her scalp
with a plectrum
Breastfeeding on my lap
what dreams do you see?

 

This woman has both grey hair and an infant at her breast, so imagine her as a grandmother who, after her daughter died, induces lactation to save the life of her grandchild. A plectrum is a pick for strumming a lute or shamisen, so to Japanese thought she must be a geisha, or performance artist who travels about singing and dancing. “She scratches her scalp” in difficulty understanding or accepting her fate: the death of her daughter, the three needs conflicting within her, to nurture the infant, to make a living, and to rest her aging body. The ever-present conflict of these needs drives her to distraction – thus she absent-mindedly uses her plectrum to scratch an itchy place under her hair.

 

Knowing nothing of grandmother’s sorrow and distraction, the child delights in the softness of her body and flavor of her milk. The old woman looks into baby’s eyes and forehead searching to see the dreams within. Unlike her own dreams gone sour, these dreams are fresh and new – and she wonders whether her grandchild will overcome the hardship of losing mother to realize those dreams.

 

Lilies of the field

in crescent moon shadow
lined up in bloom
To my dear children
what can compare?

 

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;

they toil not, neither do they spin.
And yet I say unto thee that even Solomon
in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

 


Before my eyes
the scene just as is
makes a haiku --
As a child turns seven
face becomes clear

 

Conceiving a haiku should occur naturally, organically, as one’s face develops. For Basho to see that children’s facial features transform at age seven, changing from a baby face to the “clear” features of a child, then to write a poem about this phenomenon, he must have watched the faces of many children, especially his three younger sisters. This is not something only Basho saw. He joins the many students of child development, who notice the onset of a new stage at age seven.

 

“Lingering on. . .”
I take out the doll and
look at her face
Again starting to weep
the cough of consumption

 

Basho begins with a single word of speech or thought to open the mind without specifics. The second and third lines provide the physical action which evokes memories: taking the doll down from a shelf and looking at the face. The fourth line adds deep and reoccurring emotion, and the fifth provides the context: tuberculosis, also known as “consumption” because the infection consumes the body.

 

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

 

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

 

As gracefull as 
the slender figure
of a goddess
she wrings out red dye
into the white rapids

 

She wrings out fabric soaked in the red dye madder into the swift current which carries away all traces of red. Sato Hiroaki says Basho “painted with words a picture of a Chinese goddess that Utamaro – ukiyoe artist famous for sexual imagery -- might have drawn with a brush.”

 

Wings flap in sequence
wild geese under moon,
Every mouth
shall sample this year’s
new sake

 

(Because the two-line segment comes before the three-liner, this is not really tanka form; but is close enough to be worth considering.)  In a V formation the updraft from one bird lifts the bird behind, enabling the flock to conserve energy. Watching them past the moon, Basho see a wave motion flowing through the ‘V,’ a ‘force’ or organizing principle determined by the physics of flight. Rice is polished, steamed, and fermented with mold and yeast for a month to produce raw and rough-tasting ‘new sake’ which must be aged for a year, the organizing force of fermentation acting everywhere in the alcohol to give a smooth taste Japanese drinkers enjoy. Everyone has gathered to sip the new sake from this year’s rice crop. Miyawaki sees in the stanza, “a moment of happiness in which satisfaction mingles with expectation.”

 

Stones and trees
said to be illusions
yet we worship -
I rinse my soup bowl
to eat from again

 

Buddhism tells us all things are illusions; Shinto says worship natural things. How can we worship illusions? 

The paradox is resolved by being physically conscious of the bowl connecting past, present, and future: 

the bowl with food in it,  then clean and empty, then with food in it again.  The food is both real and an illusion, and so we worship. 

 

 

              basho4now@gmail.com

 






<< Boncho, Basho, Kyorai (E-14) (E-16) Basho’s Zen Poetry >>


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