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  >  Animals in Basho  >  F-19


Life Underwater

12 Basho haiku and 4 renku about sea creatures

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

The sea produces some mighty strange creatures, and Basho takes us to visit them in their natural habitat alive or soon after death. (Sea animals as food appear in the article F-10 BESIDES RICE.)  Experiencing the life-force in an animal underwater may assist us in discovering the life-force in ourselves and humanity.


Octopus trap --
over fleeting dreams
summer moon

 

The traps are laid out in the evening; an octopus crawls in, thinking it a fine place to rest –then when the brief summer night becomes morning, the octopus cannot get out, and someone comes to make sushi out of the little fellow. Octopuses are highly intelligent, possibly more so than any other order of invertebrates. Maze and problem-solving experiments have shown evidence of a memory system that can store both short- and long-term memory. Does an octopus dream? Can an octopus who is alive and comfortable realize his or her life is soon to end? Can we?

 

In Japanese mythology, dawn and sunrise are the Sun-Goddess emerging from a Rock Cave where she hid herself.

 

Source of morning sun,
in the East red sea snail

What you think?
clam asleep in shell
sees a dream

 

Rapana venosa, the veined rapa whelk or Asian rapa whelk, is a species of large predatory sea snail, a marine gastropod mollusk or whelk, in the family Muricidae, the rock shells. The shell of has a large whorl with round aperture of a deep orange color which suggests a red light starting to emerge from within the shell. So the whelk is the Sun, and the shell is the Rock Cave. Nearby in the Eastern Sea, a clam sleeps peacefully in his or her shell – but even in sleep an awareness of the momentous event enters the dreams of a clam.

 

Clams alive
still are worthwhile --
end of the year

 

Clam soup is a traditional favorite at New Years, so, to a mercantile consciousness, clams are only worthwhile dead. Basho say “Wrong!”

 

As a clam’s
body from shell parting,
autumn passes

 

Basho compares the passage of autumn to the body of a clam torn from its shell – a most intimate and sensual image.

 

Bamboo fence
crumbled and washed away
by the tsunami

A Buddha was eaten
by fish we cut open

 

A bamboo fence has been completely washed away. Basho escalates. Not only was the bamboo fence swallowed by the sea, but the waves engulfed a temple and washed away a wooden or bronze image of the Buddha. We know this because we are fisher folk who have captured a huge fish (or whale?) and while we gut it we discover the Buddha there in the stomach. Would a fish really eat a wooden or bronze statue of zero food value and likely to get caught in the throat? I don’t think so.

 

Another interpretation is possible – but you may not like this one either: Buddhism speaks of death as “entering Nirvana” and a dead person as a “Buddha” – so what the fisher folk found in the fish’s stomach was the hair and nails and other indigestible parts of a human being, someone washed away along with the bamboo fence. We follow the movement in Basho’s mind through the link he creates.


Tiny crab
crawling up my leg
clear water

 

Taking a break from summer hiking to sit with lower legs in the cool stream, refreshed by a cool breeze, surprised to feel the eight legs and two pincers of a tiny hiker on wet flesh, looking to see the orange crab shape crawling on leg through the coolness of water flowing by -- all is Sensation.

 

Basho in Gifu watched the famous cormorant fishing on the Nagara River.. The birds dive in to catch fish, but an iron ring around the gullet stops the fish from going down and men steal it from the hungry bird’s mouth. (Talk about exploitation!)

 

Interesting,
but by and by sad
cormorant fishing

 

Here is a journey through Basho’s mind: first, “interested” by the unusual custom, then after thinking about it some more, saddened.

 

Whitebait are slender herring-like fish, finger-length and semi-transparent; early in spring they swim up river from the bay and are caught in nets. They are eaten fried or in soup but also alive and still “dancing.”

 

White bait –
black eyes open to
Dharma‘s net

 

The Dharma is the Law of Buddhism that all things must die and pass away. The startlingly black eyes of the silvery fish open to the Truth as the net takes them. Basho however is vegan, so no whitebait die for his protein.

 

In the dawn
whitebait, one inch of
translucence

 

As the sky begin to lighten, Basho sees the affinity between slender inch-long bodies of the fish lying in a net and the growing light spread across the vast sky.

 

Warmly hugged
within a robe of down
the duck’s legs

 

The legs have no feathers; instead the duck floating on the lake has pulled the legs up nestling into the belly flesh which is covered by feathers. Basho looks very deeply and intimately into animal as well as human bodies.

 

Disappeared
into January sea –
little grebe

 

The round little ball of water bird was sitting peacefully on the surface of the lake; suddenly the grebe dives and disappears; Basho imagines the bird hidden in that vastness of water.

 

Fishing fire
shows beneath the waves
bullhead choking

 

Bullhead are small fish, ten inchs long, who live in rivers in mountain valleys, hiding under pebbles. The fire built on the boat attracts the fish who is then seen in the light reflected through the water before the fisherman grabs it with a net. The fish is already choking while still underwater; choking with fear of what is to come. Can a fish understand the nature of future time?

 

The sea slug (or sea cucumber), a soft sac of rubbery flesh with inner tube from mouth to anus, flourishes in winter among the rocks in shallow water. They are eaten raw in vinegar (by some folks). Yum yum, sea slug!

 

Still living
frozen into one
sea slugs

 

A fisherman or woman has gathered sea slugs and left them in a bucket on the rocks. The head of a sea slug can hardly be distinguished from the other end, and here in the frozen slimy mess, one creature cannot be distinguished from another. The verse is bitter cold and gruesome -- yet some may agree with me that it is one of Basho’s funniest haiku – a kind of sick funny.

 

Whalers would spot whales from stations along the shore and launch boats to catch them with harpoons and lances.

 

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

 

The young boy with his eagle eyes spots a whale in the bay and blows on his shell to alert the village men who run to their boats and set out. The whale hears and rushes to escape. Wikipedia says,

The fusing of the neck vertebrae, while increasing stability when swimming at high speeds, decreases flexibility; whales are unable to turn their heads. When swimming, whales rely on their tail fin propel them through the water. Flipper movement is continuous. Whales swim by moving their tail fin and lower body up and down, propelling themselves through vertical movement, while their flippers are mainly used for steering.

 

Wearing imperial robes
he indeed is august

Full of sutras,
is his boat escorted
by a crocodile?

 

I bet you can hardly wait to find out what is going on here: A VIP on an Imperial mission wears purple robes forbidden to ordinary humans. He is august, inspiring awe and reverence. Basho makes him a monk sent by the Emperor of Japan to China to collect Buddhist scriptures and bring to Japan. And now for the final twist: in Japanese mythology, when “Her Augustness Luxuriant Jewel Princess” was pregnant and leaving the Kingdom of the Sea, her father, the Sea God, sent a crocodile to escort her boat. Now does the link make sense?


The saltwater crocodile is the largest of all living reptiles, The males can reach sizes up to 20 feet and weigh up to 3,000 pounds. They use ocean currents to travel long distances. In a study, 20 crocodiles were tagged with satellite transmitters; 8 of these crocodiles ventured out into open ocean, in which one of them travelled 590 km (370 mi) in 25 days. Not having to move around much, sometimes simply by floating, the current-riding behavior allows for the conservation of energy. They will even interrupt their travels, residing in sheltered bays for a few days when the current is against the desired direction of travel, until the current changes direction. Pretty smart. A good choice for an escort to a boat carrying sacred texts.

 

 

         basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< So Many Birds (F-18) (F-20) Ode to a Crow >>


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