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  >  Food, Drink, and Fire  >  F-09


Rice to Eat

3 Basho haiku, 9 renku, one letter passage, plus an account of Basho’s final food.

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

Rice is the staple food of over half the world's population and provides 20% of the world’s diet: in Basho’s era, rice was boiled on a wood-burning stove for over one hour until soft, then eaten in every meal. Without “rice” there is no “meal” – just snacks.   Most of the rice grown by Japanese farmers went as taxes to the provincial govehoweverrnment which sold it to people in the cities who had no place to grow rice. Before cooking, rice which has been milled has to be rinsed in water to eliminate the starch that coats the grains. Cooked in extra water for a long time, the grains disintegrated to form rice gruel. In addition, glutinuous rice was pounded over and over again and molded into mochi rice cakes, Some rice was cooked then dried and ground to rice powder;some was fermented to make sake (see F-12 HIGH ON SAKE).

 

For a moment
bridge of clouds straddles
harvest moon

This year’s rice carried
on his back, he is happy

 

In the night sky a bank of clouds arches over the moon, then suddenly the “bridge” is gone – thus the ephemerality at the core of Buddhist thought. From that ethereal, lifeless vision of impermanence, Basho jumps down to earth with ordinary male life. In the season when the tall stalks of golden rice are harvested, furious early autumn typhoons may destroy the crop in one night. Here is the satisfaction of a man with his harvest safe on his back, knowing he will have food this winter. So down-to-earth, walking on ground, bag of rice weighing on his shoulders – in vivid constant to the arch of cloud straddling the moon for an instant then no more.

 

Chopping greens
to serve on top of rice,

thoughts elsewhere -

Not out with the horse
but inside making love

 

A servant girl chops dried vegetable leaves into fine bits to add on top of soft white rice, but her mind is “elsewhere.” Where is that? Basho tells us: with her boyfriend who is a packhorse driver and quite a hunk. She wishes for a day they both can take off work and hang together. Finely slicing the greens with sharp steel knife, she sends her prayer out to the kamisama, wishing for him “inside making love” -- inside the house instead of out on some field where they usually make out – but also inside her; not greens on soft white rice and him on the horse, but him on her soft flesh.


Today again

on the Stone to worship
the Rising Sun

Washing rice in the rapids

white water pouring out

 

I climb onto a boulder to see the sun (goddess) emerging from the horizon, and sit quietly, watching, absorbing her clear silent power. Rice which has been milled is coated with starch; before cooking, this must be washed away by moving about in a bowl of water, then pouring out the murky water, again and again until water pours clean. Nissun compares the murky rice washing water with the white water in a cascade. The mind purifies itself by remaining still and silently worshipping the divine, Water, on the other hand, purifies itself through movement and turmoil.

 

The crying child’s
face is such a mess

Renting a room
they make no fire
to boil rice

 

The parents do not wipe the snot off their kid’s face, so germs produce skin infection and pus smeared together with dirt and tears. They seem to be transients who do not go to the trouble of maintaining a fire in the sunken hearth for the hour or more it takes to boil rice. Instead of eating “meals” (which in Japan means with rice) they live on snack foods high in salt and saturated fat. The snotty-faced kid does not get much in the way of nutrition. The observations of the two poets resonate across time and culture.

 

On straw mat
we are stuck with unsold
market greens

Crawling baby manages
to snatch rice from tray

 

Instead a famine where a family has no food to feed the children, here they are at market with unsold produce they have to carry home. Basho continues with their problems at home. The individual’s meal was served on several dishes on a small tray on four legs, about 18 inches square and 9 inches high. Instead of a child getting sick and dying before three years, this baby, a slave to gravity since birth, here has somehow managed to get high enough to pull rice off the low standing tray, either to put in mouth, or to spread about. We see Basho’s consciousness of infant motor development; the child reaching up onto the 9-inch-high tray is a developmental milestone on the road to standing and walking.


Day in spring
birth room attendants’
long tedium

One by one they eat
warm water over rice

 

 

 

No one comes
to make my wife
give me leisure

Boiling rice is a drag
and my eyes tear up

 

Apparently my wife has left me, so I need someone -- the matchmaker who arranged the marriage, my wife’s father, someone -- to fix things up with my wife so she comes home and does the housework. Since no one has persuaded her to come back, I have to boil rice over a wood fire in the cook stove, which is really tiring and I cry because smoke gets in my eyes, and I miss my wife and the work she did.


Wrapping rice cake
with one hand she tucks
hair behind ear

 

Rice cake’ can be rice pounded into a paste then molded into shape (mochi) or ground into flour then made into dough (mochiko). Soybean powder (kinako) or beet sugar (tensai) is added to sweeten. The type known as chimaki wrapped in bamboo leaves was originally made for a festival in summer, so “wrapping rice cake” sets the following haiku in the humid heat before summer rains.

 

Hair over the forehead, neither cut nor tied up, must be parted to flow down either side of the face, so while a woman works, it can easily fall before her eyes. Her fingers and palms are covered with dough Without thinking or breaking her stride, she reaches up with the clean surface on the side of her hand (above the thumb and forefinger) to tuck the hair behind her ear – with nothing getting on her hair. This is Basho’s Mona Lisa, his most graceful hidden female. Only Basho has the delicacy and precision to draw such a moment out from the flow of everyday female life.

 

Bush warbler
poops on the rice cake
verandah’s edge

 

Mochi rice cakes are eaten during the New Year’s season which in Japan lasts up to three weeks. As the days pass, with no refrigerators or plastic wrap, the leftovers get moldy – however if dried in the sunshine, the mold can be wiped off and the mochi eaten – but not if it had bird poop on it. Scholar Kon Eizo says this verse is a “crystallization” of Lightness; it gives a definite form to Basho’s ideal: nothing poetic or philosophic. romantic or tragic, simply life as is, with a touch of humor, to be interesting. Small children will like any verse with pee or poop in it, so this should be a favorite.


In a daydream
boiling rice until
evening comes

No concern for life
just waiting to die

 

This person experienced boiling the rice, but only in a dream, so it cannot be eaten for dinner. In my translation of this, Basho says that without caring for others one is merely boiling rice in a daydream; not really living, but living in a daydream, so just to waiting to die.

 

In the summer of 1678, the mother of Basho’s follower Fuboku passed away. At the memorial service, Basho wrote:

 

Offering water
for where thou goest,
powdered rice

 

As we enter the temple grounds, at a rock basin with spring water, we put our hands together and pray to Buddha; this custom is called “offering water.” The middle segment in Japanese means to mourn for the dead while asking where the departed has gone; the phrase is said to have yugen, “mystery and depth.” Rice is cooked then dried and ground to a powder, for travelers to carry on journeys; adding water makes a meal. Basho suggests that Fuboku’s mother add the sacred water of the temple to the dried rice powder for nourishment on her long journey.


In this floating world
all end as Komachi

For what reason?
while sipping rice gruel
eyes fill with tears

 

Ono no Komachi, said to be the most beautiful women Japan ever produced, ended up a lonely old beggar. Someone has given the beggar woman alms, a bowl of nourishing rice gruel; she sips the soup while tears of gratitude fall on her aged wrinkled face and mix with the gruel drooling .from her mouth.

 

On his final journey with his grandnephew, the evening of June 18, 1694, as told in a letter to Sora,

 

In Nagashima your uncle was away from the temple,
so we visited Kyubei and for dinner requested rice gruel.
As it grew dark your uncle came back and we stayed at his place.

 

On his deathbed, November 28th that year:

 

Basho opens his eyes around noon and looks around the room. Understanding what he wants, they give him some rice gruel
and help him sit up and he moistens his lips with it.

 

So Basho died with the flavor of rice gruel in his mouth.

 

                                     basho4humanity@gmail.com

 

 






<< Fire for Life (F-08) (F-10) Besides Rice >>


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