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  >  The Physical Body  >  F-06


Breath

7 haiku and 5 renku about respiration

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

For inhalation Basho speaks of "fragrance" entering the nose, and for exhalation of voice accompanying the air. Since these 12 verses are all about breath, we can practice them as a form of Yoga, a way to learn the life-giving properties of breath which the Yogis call prana, a way of paying attention and connecting to a greater power in the Universe. 

 

 

The infant draws in a long, deep breath, retains it for a moment to extract from it its life-giving properties, and then exhales it in a long wail, and lo! its life upon earth has begun. The old man gives a faint gasp, ceases to breathe, and life is over… Life is but a series of breaths.

                                                                                     Yogi Ramacharaka (William Atkinson) 1904

 

 


Fisherman’s child
to announce a whale
blows into a shell

 

An ordinary boy in a seaside village stands on a cape or hill where he can see the bay. When his eagle-like eyes spot a whale, he blows with skill and determination into the shell to produce a sound that alerts the village men to grab their harpoons and rush to their boats to chase the whale. Meanwhile the prey flees, the waves surge, and the boy watches excitedly from his post – all this comes from his breath, his prana, passing through the shell.

 

Frantically
crying baby is thrust
into the cradle

Carpenters and roofers
go home as it darkens

 

Baby goes “blue in the face” over some upset, crying that panicky scream that so upsets adult ears and brain. That scream, so necessary for success in human evolution, is the baby’s breath and prana. The mother or sitter is busy with something else, so to shut the kid up, she thrusts him or her into a cradle and then what happens?


Imagine the crying baby as a house under construction – busy, busy, busy with carpenters inside the frame and around it, and roofers on top, sawing, hammering, moving things about, shouting to each other. As it grows dark, they all leave and that house becomes absolutely silent. Basho portrays the seemingly magical quieting effect a cradle has on the infant. Movement calms the emotions. All that frantic screaming, facial distortion, falling tears, and pathetic wailing, disappears into silence and peaceful breathing.

 

Arising to blow on embers
the wife of a bell-ringer

Going and returning
she calls for her lost child,
moonlight and stars

 

Her husband wakes up the town, but Basho has eyes only for the wife, getting up in the freezing winter dawn to, like a goddess, awaken the hearth fire with her breath. She may be blowing directly onto the coals, or through a bamboo tube. Throughout the ages in every land before gas, electricity, timers, sensors, remote and automatic controls, women have gotten up early to awaken the fire as the wife does here. She is eternal, a goddess of fire, proclaimed by bells.

 

In the evening when her child has not come home, she propels her voice, her breath and life force, throughout the neighborhood either to reach the child or to tell the neighbors to assist her search. Notice the links: from glowing embers to moonlight and stars, from breath that awakens a fire to breath that reaches a lost child.

 

Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus

 

A chorus of women allows one woman to lead them, so their sound, their collective prana, goes far. AMONG WOMEN, may serve as an anthem to female solidarity and empowerment. Say the words as three measures in a musical composition, three beats and a silent pause, four beats, three beats and a pause, so they become a mantra.

 

Glaring about,
she orders the children
to “behave!”

While she puffs the ash
from broiled miso

 

Children are scattered about the room, so mother has to “glare about” to address them all -- not that they listen. In addition to the mother’s the abundant activity of the mother is the hullaballoo of children: arguing, fighting, climbing, crawling, running about, breaking, swallowing things, this winter day in 17th century Japan. Basho balances all this lively, noisy, human ado with a single, tiny, delicate female breath.

 

Mother at the hearth is broiling balls of soybean paste on wooden skewers to make a side dish. A bit of ash from the fire has gotten on the sticky miso. While she orders her kids to behave, she brings the skewer close to her mouth, purses her lips and exhales a short burst of air at the ash to propel it off the miso. The astonishing delicacy of this action even the fingers of elves could not perform is the polar opposite of her glaring and shouting at her kids. Both ordering and puffing are her breath, her life force.

 

Yogis say prana enters the body through inhalation and returns to the Universe through exhalation; As Mother gave birth to these children, now she gives her breath, her prana, to the food that will nourish them. . We connect with this mother; breathing with her, transcending space and time, to share prana with her. According to Shinto, our faults are not inherent; rather they are as dust on a mirror, easily wiped off to restore the original purity. Basho’s speck of ash on miso is a similar metaphor. The mother’s anger is not inherent; she can restore her inner peace by puffing away the ash from her spirit. In the way of Yoga, we can puff away our own anger and restore acceptance of human life and activity.

 

Flowers are fragrant to attract insects -- some flowers give off odor plumes that move downwind and are detectable by bees more than a kilometer away -- however humans also enjoy these scents. Airborne particles bind to receptors in the nose which transmit messages to the brain’s olfactory bulb where the input will interact with parts of the brain responsible for smell identification, memory, and emotion.

 

In February, the weather is still very cold, but small white clusters of white or pink petals form on the naked plum tree branches. Unlike cherry blossoms which have hardly any fragrance, plum blossoms have a gentle refreshing scent which energizes us to hang in there, and survive till Spring warmth comes. Basho wrote both of the following haiku in his hometown Iga:


Spread thy fragrance
on hill where peat is dug,
blossoms of plum

 

Peat is partly decayed plant material almost permanently saturated in bogs and swamps, dug out to dry and burn as fuel – it stinks to high heaven. Basho commands the plum blossoms to emit more of those “odor plumes” to overcome the foul stink in his inhalation.

 

Even to the sound
pf hand blowing nose,
plum tree in full bloom

 

So lovely are the plum blossoms that even the sound of someone blowing his nose against his hand -- I think they call this a “farmer’s blow” -- cannot interfere with Basho’s appreciation of their beauty.

 

Plum blossom scent –
old storybooks read
by a young girl

 

She reads beside the window next to a plum tree in bloom, her youth in contrast to the classical elegance of plum blossoms and the romantic tales old centuries before she was born. Unable to go outside and wander as her brothers can, she does her traveling inside books. Tales from long ago inspire her -- as that old storybook Little Women has inspired millions of young girls including Gertrude Stein, Gloria Steinem, Simone de Beauvoir, Ursula Le Guin, Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Ginsberg, Hillary Clinton, and J.K. Rowling.

 

While her eyes are on the page, the flowers’ airborne particles reach her olfactory receptors. Because the olfactory signal in the brain terminates in or near the amygdala, odors are strongly linked to memories and evoke emotions. One sensation facilitates the others; here, the fragrance enhances her reading experience. The fragrance takes her back in time to the world in the storybooks. If we inhale along with her, we too can travel to other worlds and other times.

 

In his final year, 1694, Basho discovered his deepest insights into the nature of breathing fragrance. In February

 

Plum blossom scent --
Behold! the Sun rises
on mountain trail

 

Basho blends two sensory experiences – vision of the sun rising, and scent of plum blossoms in the air. February the coldest time of the year, early morning the coldest time of the day, the mountains colder and windier than anywhere else, yet wild plum blossoms are colorful and fragrant as if to honor the rising Sun.

 

In June he went west on his final journey:

 

Suruga road
even the mikan blossoms
smell of tea bushes

 

Suruga – now Shizuoka-ken – has two famous products: tea and mikan or Mandarin oranges; the fragrance of tea is everywhere in Suruga, even entering into the fragrance of mikan blossoms.

In August beside Lake Biwa, he had an insight of the oneness Yogis speak of:

 

Lake ripples
and the wind’s fragrance
one rhythm

 

Finally at the end of October, one month before his death

 

Chrysanthemum
fragrance, in Nara
ancient Buddhas

 

Nara was the capital of Japan when Buddhism entered the land, and the city retains the oldest Buddhist statues.  Makoto Ueda says


The ancient world those Buddhas watched with their merciful eyes is somehow present in the elegant,  noble fragrance that pervades the air of Nara. Inhaling that fragrance, one feels that the ancient images  were alive and breathing.

 

 

                   basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Sickness and Health (F-05) (F-07) Diagram of a Snore >>


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