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  >  Animals in Basho  >  F-15


Cats and Dogs

18 Basho haiku and renku on cats and dogs

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

The lives of cats and dogs have forever been woven into human life. 18 Basho haiku and renku on cats and dogs reveal how people in Japan 330 years ago experienced these two mammals.

 

Charles J. Dunn in his Everyday Life in Traditional Japan says


 “Dogs were seldom seen in the home, except for some Pekinese dogs, imported by the Dutch. Japanese dogs,  typified by the fighting breed from Tosa in Shikoku, were strong animals with close connections to the Eskimo dogs of the North. They were good as watchdogs, but also formed wild packs that roamed the countryside.    Cats, on the other hand, were often to be found in homes, performing their worldwide functions of vermin catchers, but never, of course, given a saucer of milk. (p. 151)

 

Dunn gives us considerable information, but something  is missing from his account. He says nothing about the affection between girls and cats, and nothing about the interest of children in dogs. In the final two poems in this article, Basho records female and young human experiences of affection for cats and interest in dogs.

 

The nursery song Yuki, Snow, a traditional folk tune, certainly was known when Basho was a little boy, in the 1640s.

Snow

Snowing on and on, hailing on and on
Falling and falling, higher and higher.
Mountains and fields wear cotton hats
Every withered tree a white umbrella.
Snowing on and on, hailing on and on
Falling and falling, still not stopping.
Dog joyfully runs about the garden
Cat curls up inside the kotatsu.

 

A kotatsu is a heater (in our time electrical, in Basho’s charcoal) with a frame holding up a blanket and table top.    People sit with their legs inside the warm space and the blanket around their hips – but the cat’s whole body can get in. The song observes that dogs like to get all excited and run about, while cats prefer to be warm and comfortable.

 

Unattached, the cat
outside, how she cries

Charcoal fire
gone out, twas cold
in retirement

 

This cat expects to “retire” for the winter inside the kotatsu but now, detached from her source of warmth, she is outside, freezing her paws off. Iji explains: the fire went out, and inside became as cold as outside, so here she is, crying.

 

With cotton bursting out
walks a pure white cat

Unknown to us,

within warm kotatsu
lying contented

 

In summer the balls of soft cotton fiber burst out from their buds, each as soft, white, and furry as a darling little white cat walking amidst the cotton plants. The second stanza switches to winter when cats, like old people, seek to be warm, inactive, and have no involvement with the absurdly changing world. A kotatsu – table with blanket all around, and a heater inside -- is large enough for people to rest their lower bodies inside – however a cat can get her whole body in, so she lies there getting high on the embracing warmth.

 

She resents the snarling
cries of cats fighting

High on top,
low on bottom, how
love is done

 

Cats and humans do it the same way: as a struggle for dominance and being on top. Not only in sex but in every aspect of life, those on top stay there – having fun and sex and leisure -- while those on bottom remain on bottom for life.

 

‘Heat’ is caused by estrogen, so it occurs only in the female. She then invites Mister Cat to turn on his testesterone. Estrogen drives female cats into ‘heat’ several times a year, but early spring is most common. Spring is the season for love and sex in many species, including humans. The pathos of cats at the mercy of their hormones shows us how pitiful we are in love.

 

Heat periods occur about every two weeks and last about 4 to 7 days. Multiple males will be attracted to a female in heat. The males will fight over her, and the victor wins the right to mate. At first, the female will reject the male, but eventually she will allow him to mate. When cats mate the male bites the scruff of the female neck so she cannot escape (which is why cats like to be rubbed there, behind the neck). The female utters a loud yowl as the male pulls out of her because a male cat's penis has a band of about 120–150 backwards-pointing penile spines, about 1 mm long; upon withdrawal of the penis, the spines rake the walls of the female's vagina, which is a trigger for ovulation. (I’ve heard that sound.)

 

 

After mating the female gives herself a thorough wash… with her tongue which has hooks on it like a brush that untangles fur; also her saliva contains a detergent which cleans fur. If a male attempts to breed with her at this point, the female will attack him. Once the female is done grooming, the cycle will repeat.

                                                                                          Wikipedia

With my cat
the stray cat does it,
crying pitifully

 

Wikipedia and Basho tell it like it is.

 

The lady cat
over crumbling cookstove
she commutes

 

The sex-crazed she-cat ‘commutes’ (kayoi) through the kitchen, climbing the stove then jumping out the window, so many times a day on her trips outside WHERE THE BOYS ARE that the baked clay structure is starting to crumble.

 

Love worn thin
on barley for dinner?
the lady cat

 

The verse is a question. Again we see a cat on her way to get laid. Is the family that feeds this cat too poor to give her any rice or fish, only barley, a grain the Japanese consider low-class, tasteless, and low in nutrition, and since she is too horny to eat much anyway, in her malnourished state the nights of frenzy and exhaustion leave her looking like hell, right?

 

Cats in love
quiet down, bedroom‘s
hazy moon

 

The cycle has ended for now, and the screeching and the yowls cease as the hazy moon shines secretly into the room where futons have been laid out on the tatami for people to sleep or make love on.

 

Fujiwara Teika, in the 13th century, wrote what may be the funniest of all classical tanka:

 

How I envy
his voice unsparing,
the stray cat
with all of his heart,
makes love to his wife

 

Japanese are reluctant to show their inner feelings, so Teika envies the cat’s freedom of expression.

The use of the word “love” in these poems is of course parody. Basho wrote what may be the funniest of all haiku:


Like a saint
dog stepped on by
cat in heat

 

Mataudo means ‘complete person’ but is used sarcastically in kyogen comedies to actually mean a fool. The lady-cat is so drunk on sex-hormones that she walks right on top of a dog. But the dog is asleep and only half wakes up to gaze around a bit, wondering ‘what was that?’ then goes back to sleep. Basho compares the dog to a ‘complete person,’ a saint or a fool, who can face any situation with equanimity.

 

Watch Master Basho
swat at butterflies!

This rotton 

verse even a dog

will not eat

 

Kikaku teases Basho for his obsession with Chuang Tzu’s butterfly dream, the point beginning that Basho is too clumsy to catch the insect midair. Maybe he could hit one in his dreams, but dreams are not reality. Basho responds that Kikaku’s stanza is so “rotten” that a dog, who will eat garbage, passes on this one.

 

On the stage a humble
cottage the forlorn cry
Without merit
loud squeal of surprise
at the scene

A dog being stabbed
that voice is so sad

 

Each of the three stanzas highlights a voice responding to the transitory nature of existence: first, the dejected cry of someone in a stage play whose happiness has vanished. Next, the moron in the audience who reacts noisily. Finally Basho gets REAL with the actual cry of a life being snuffed out.

 

Clouds passing over–
a dog peeing on the run
village winter shower

 

On early winter evenings, clouds gather in the sky, moving fast while they drop sudden cold showers. To portray this phenomenon Basho chooses a striking image: a dog pissing while running. The rain falls on a village where many dogs run about, and sometimes pee. Clouds, dog, village, are one with the rain and the movement.

 

Sleep on a journey
dog too gets rained on
howl in the night

 

Basho is staying at an inn, but the sound of rain on the roof fills his attention, and then he hears a wild dog in the distance soaking wet and howling. 


Mountain dog,
for one night you can rest
among bush clover

 

Tiny purple petals fill the plain of lespedeza bushes; Kon notes that this flower image gives a feeling of “gentle adorable beauty” in contrast to the fearsome mountain dog. Basho invites the dog to sleep among the bushes, where Kon says “the dog will certainly calm heart and become obedient”

 

He stays for two nights
before his enemy’s gate --
Sweeping away
dreams, on the field stands
statue of Jizo

Longing for a wife?
call of mountain dog

 

Seeking to kill his enemy rather than be killed, he waits with his weapons at the enemy’s gate, never knowing when and how that one will appear. He is “threatened.” He must remain half awake all night long, ready to defend himself. By force of will, he sweeps the dreams from his drowsy mind. In the nearby field stands a statue of the bodhisattva Jizo, Buddhist “Guardian of the Roads.” “Jizo comforts those in distress, succors captives, assists all those in need … Statues of Jizo were therefore erected along lonely mountain passes and difficult roads.” The warrior calls on Jizo for strength to stay awake and stay alive.

 

That lonely cry in the distance, is it real or in a dream? Is the ‘dog’ a real dog or a metaphor for man who seeks a wife to comfort him in distress and assist him in need. Within this trio is the life of a warrior: his struggles against male enemies and against nature (the need to sleep), his use of religion to justify these struggles, then (from Basho) his longing for female love.

 

Gradually
helped to sit up, she
combs her hair

Cat fondly caressed

by the one I adore

To stop blossoms
from falling, if only
there was a way

 

Recovering from a long illness, she sits up for the first time. Running the comb down her long black locks, she absorbs their power into her body. Watching her pet this small furry living thing -- a similar tactile experience – just after she was so close to death. makes me love her all the more. The poet sees the girl’s affection for the cat as an extension of hair-combing. If only there was a way to keep the young and tender from growing old and bitter. The cat stanza by another poet is a bridge between two Basho stanzas.

 

For some coolness
they throw off their clothes

to wait for the moon 

Straw mats held in front
 running and jumping about

“Are you sleeping?”
strange that the dog’s tail
holds its shape

 

Little children with no inhibitions at all about take off their clothes when the heat is so oppressive even in the evening. They wait for the moon to rise, but this may carry the hidden meaning of “waiting for puberty.” Basho adds exuberant body movement to this image of children. He says naked is okay, but how about a bit of restraint? The kids hold thin straw mats about a meter square in front of their privates as they dash about screaming. Still we see their “moons.” Still in the paradise of innocence, but feeling the first hints of that shame to emerge when their bodies show sexual traits.

 

 

 

One naked child notices a nearbly dog asleep -- but holding tail up with attention. Shiba and Akita dogs, the original breeds on these islands, are known for perpetually holding their tails up in a perfect curl, the white fur under the tail curling around to show on top, as round and white as the moon (Ahh, the link between the three stanzas). The child who jumps about in naked joy has consciousness and the ability to observe with wonder the natural world. We see not only the dog but also the child’s interest in the dog. The poet 300 years ago makes this observation, through the eyes of a child, about Japanese dogs, about the nature of sleep, consciousness, and muscle control. We can see the same any evening in a Japanese neighborhood; dogs with round tightly curled tails. Somehow the brain signals which produce this tail shape are programmed into Japanese dog genes.

 

I have a shiba dog, and she usually holds her tail in a perfectly round curl – a work of art that tail. When completely relaxed her tail falls, but she can also sleep with it fully round. In other shiba dogs in the neighborhood, the circle of tail sometimes is not so neat and round, but still with some control in that direction. Often when I see my dog Suzu, I think of this stanza or the entire trio. Thanks to Basho and his followers. it becomes more fun to be with my dog – and thanks to Suzu, the trio becomes ever more enjoyable.

                             

                                       basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






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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