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  >  Space and Time  >  G-05


On a Journey

12 haiku, 14 renku, 8 prose passages, 3 letters all about the experience of traveling.

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

Three whole years /

on a journey from a journey /

to a journey.


Here are poems, prose passages, and letters about leaving home, traveling, or returning.

 

One of Basho's earliest renku stanzas, from the first sequence he participated in:

 

Moon at dawn
only the shadow figure
for a friend

Still deep in the night
a lonesome traveler

 

The moon at dawn, a pale whiteness in the sky, casts no shadow at all, so who is this “shadow figure?” At night our side of the planet in shadow, while no humans are on the road, so the shadow travels alone.

 

While Basho still lived in his hometown of Iga (east of Nara, southwest of Nagoya), he traveled to Kyoto to study. He wrote both of these stanzas in succession:

 

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

 

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. Already in his twenties Basho suffered from the bowel disorder that ended his life two decades later.

 

In 1672 when he parted from his hometown friends to move to Edo, Basho wrote this haiku:

 

Friends separate
with the clouds, wild geese
going, parting

 

In spring the wild geese which winter on the streams and marshes of Japan leave for their summer homes in Siberia – Basho’s image contains the promise that just as the geese will return in autumn, the friends who are parting will someday see each other again. The double verb – iki- modori “going, returning” – expresses the urgent force pressing on the geese to migrate, the forces of life pressing on humans to part, to go on journeys.

 

 

“Traveler”
my name shall be called,
first winter shower

 

This haiku begins Basho first poetic journey in 1684. To start out on a journey just as winter begins shows that one truly is a traveler.

 

To Kyoto
still half the sky
snow clouds

 

Halfway from Edo (Tokyo) to Kyoto, looking back to the sky behind anf forward to the sky ahead, I travel  in the center of time, and all I can see are snow clouds.

 

When I meet someone with even slight refinement,
my joy is without limit. Even if to the world
he is old-fashioned and stubborn,
a person others throw away as worthless,
to speak with him beside the road in a remote place,
to see him emerge from within the wireweed,
is as finding jewels among rubble or gold in mud.
To write about these matters, to tell others of them,
is one more pleasure of travel.

 

On his journey in 1687, when Basho passed through Nara, his old friend Ensui and others from their hometown came out to meet him and spend some time together before he continued west.

 

This time meeting you again in Nara, my great hope,
the pleasure of Life cannot be put into words,
the anguish of parting by brush never fully written.
Our reliable servant, Roku, you loaned us,
our heavy baggage on his shoulders,
as we went one league, you went one league
when we passed three leagues, you also three,
this I now recall.

 

Again and again in letters to Ensui: he links his activities with those of his old friend, transcending the barriers of space between them. Every step I take is one with every step you take, although we walk in different places and directions.

 

Still in the shadowy twilight,
we arrive at our lonely lodging.
Just about now, you have reached home,
your wife, children, and servants
come out to welcome you,
you enter the bathtub of clean water,
and massage your swollen shins,

 

Basho in this passage combines certain elements we often see in Basho poetry:

 

1) that special feeling of twilight, evening or morning

2) mention of personal relations (wife, children, servants),

3) welcoming the traveler home

4) physical sensory experience (entering clear hot water)

5) specific activities and body parts (massaging swollen shins).

 

On his journey from Edo east to the Chiba peninsula, accompanied by Sora and the Zen monk Soha:

 

The monk wears robes as black as a crow,
from his collar hangs a case of three ritual vestments,
and on his back he carries a miniature shrine
in which he has reverently placed an image
of Gautama’s Ascension from the Mountain.
His pilgrim’s staff strikes the ground
yet no part of him touches the Gateless Barrier,
as he walks alone between Heaven and Earth.

 

A lovely little sketch of a Zen monk on a journey. Basho begins with specific visual imagery, then uses active physical verbs “strikes . . .touches. . .walks” to describe the state of non-attachment sought in Zen. The Gateless Barrier is a book of Zen koans but Soha transcends all barriers (though he does get attached to books; see Letter 193 To Sora)

 

On his journey through the mountains of Nagano, they meet another monk:

 

Somewhere or another
we come upon a pious monk of about sixty,
a grim sullen man without interest or humor.
he walks along in mincing steps,
doubled over from his load, his breath in gasps…
My travelling companion takes pity on him,
so we bundle the stuff from our shoulders
together with what’s on his back,
strap everything to the horse,
and I am made to ride on top.

 

The dull and stuffy monk feels an obligation to Basho and Etsujin for helping him, so as they strap his trunk load of Buddhist artifacts to the horse, he begins to repay by insisting that their skimpy backpacks go on too. Still not satisfied, the monk insists that Basho ride on top of the luggage, because if not, that would suggest that the monk’s luggage was keeping Basho from riding. Basho has to perch on top of everything just to prove to this old fart that he is not imposing -- which he most certainly is.

 

That night we find lodging among the weeds
Recalling from the day scenes promising a poem
and verses begun yet abandoned,
I take out my ink and brush.
As I close my eyes under the lantern,
tap my head, and lean forward with a sigh

 

Notice the lively, active verbs Basho uses to set up the scene

 

the pious monk we met on the road thinks that
I am suffering from the hardships of traveling,
so he tries to comfort me.
He speaks of the pilgrimages he went on as a youth,
of the glories of Amida - no end to them −
going on and on, telling what he thinks incredible,
and so interfering with my sense of elegance
that I cannot write.

 

Here comes the monk and his insufferable meddling, his phrases sound so boring, just like the monk himself. It’s all so comical. Because the monk talks, and talks, and talks of Amida, the Bodhisattva who vows to save all humanity, he must belong to one of the Pure Land sects which draw a vast membership from the common people and seek salvation by endlessly repeating Namu Amida Butsu, “I entrust myself to Amida Buddha.” Like everyone else, they have their miracles and divine visions, all of which the monk tells Basho.  

The monk never asks, so he never learns that Basho belongs to the esoteric Shingon sect which does worship Amida, but through contemplation -- not by blabbing His Name all over the place.

Historian Charles Dunn notes that in the older sects of Japanese Buddhism – such as Shingon – the priests sought enlightenment only for themselves: “they were not remotely concerned with the masses.” The Pure Land sects were an innovation in Buddhism; they sought Enlightenment for everybody. They were do-gooders, as we see in Basho’s account.


Basho’s two passages on the ‘pious monk’ are his comic masterpiece, among the funniest moments in world literature. Compare this pious monk to a few other notorious windbags:

 

Polonius in Hamlet, Polonius who said,

“Give every man thy ear but few thy voice,”

then did exactly the reverse.

 

Or Dogberry in Much Ado about Nothing:

“But, masters, remember that I am an ass;
though it be not written down,
yet forget not that I am an ass.”

No, we won’t forget.

 

Or Pumblechoock (love that name), the loquacious dum-dum in Dickens’ Great Expectations:

“Especially be grateful, boy,
to them which brought you up by hand.”

 

Basho uses fewer words than Shakespeare or Dickens, but through brevity – the soul of wit – he reaches the same quality of humor.

 

“Know a fool by his many words”

                                                                                        Ecclesiastics 5:3

 

 

Turning below the hill

I see a waterfall

Where his arrow
will go, the hunter
waves his hand

 

A traveler has freedom to move through space (notice how every word is spatial), to be refreshed by nature, to drink from the pool below the falls. Basho, in a remarkable twist, adds tension to the scene. The pool also attracts animals and a hunter who aims to shoot one. With his hand he orders the traveler to stay away from the pool, because if he did drink from it, animals would stay away for some time.  The tension is between hunter and his prey, as well as between traveler who loves freedom and is refreshed by nature and the hunter with his dangerous weapon who prohibits freedom and kills nature.

 

For a pilgrimage
to Ise, even stealing
is forgiven

Smiling row of clouds
welcomes the rising sun

 

Leaving at daybreak to visit the Ise Shrine, afraid of running out of cash on the trip, since everybody else is still asleep, he pilfers a few coins from the shop. Because he is on a spiritual pilgrimage to the high holy shrine of Shinto, he will be forgiven. Basho not only agrees with this conditional morality; he affirms it with the most positive of all images to the Japanese, the Rising Sun. The row of clouds in the sky above the sun is a smile welcoming the golden orb; thus nature smiles on the traveler, even though he has stolen.

 

Fuji pilgrim’s
straw backpack becomes
pillow of grass

For a while the Gods
Mother’s soul to keep

 

He climbs the mountain for a spiritual purpose, and travels light, at night resting his head on the straw bag he carries on his back. He may have carried something in the bag to dedicate to the gods, something that represented his mother’s hotoke, or Buddha nature after death – or maybe he carried her spirit in his heart. As he lays his head on the bag, in sleep he entrusts her soul to the Gods.

 

                        (from A Narrow Path in the Heartlands)

 

Days and months are guests passing through Eternity,
the years that go by also are travelers,
and those who float through life on boats
or face old age leading the mouth of horses
make the day-by-day journey their home.
Many of the Ancients even died on a journey.
I too, in years past, a solitary cloud enticed by the wind,
could but think of vagabonding
and went off to wander the seacoasts.
Last autumn I cleared away the cobwebs
from my rundown hut by the river,
however as the year soon ended   
and spring began under misty skies,
I was by some unknown deity seized with a madness
to cross the Gate of Shirakawa.   The gods of travel beckoned
till my hands could hardly hold onto things, 
so I mended my torn breeches,
changed the cords on my sedge hat,  burned moxa on some points,
and now with the moon at Matsushima already over my heart,
I have given where I lived away to another,
and drift over to Sampu’s tea cottage.

 

Basho’s journal of his journey to the Deep North, A Narrow Path in the Heartlands, is a polished work of literature. Here, from a letter to Sampu written in Fukushima, is a more basic portrayal of the journey.

 

I have been robust; the moxa before leaving worked.                                 
 I am eating twice as much as usual.


People before embarking on a journey burned moxa on acupuncture points of the feet to make them strong.


I have no anxiety about coming down from the North.                                    In Nasu amidst the long rains, not once did we meet rain,                            so fortunate is our journey.

(We all imagine omens.)


In this region the mornings and evenings are still cold,
but all the inns we stayed in were good, so no problems.
I am waiting for it soon to get warm:
people in the warmth of Edo would find this strange.

 

Basho has spent his whole life in a single latitude, that of Iga, Kyoto, and Edo. Here for the first time he is far enough north to change the timing of seasons. Travelers today may appreciate his feeling for how different parts of Earth receive more or less of the Sun’s heat.

 

From traces of my passing
come the bells and drums

Mountain ascetic’s
head cut off and hung
before the gate

 

Behind me on the road are pilgrims walking around the country to visit every temple on a list, striking bells and drums while chanting the nenbutsu prayer for salvation. So the pilgrims come from the “traces” I left on the road. Basho opens a window into the Noh play Ataka where Yoshitsune and his followers avoid capture by the forces of his brother the shogun Yoritomo by pretending to be mountain ascetics on a journey. At a barrier gate with samurai instructed to capture Yoshitsune, they see on display before the gate the severed heads of three ascetics executed the day before. So Yoshitsune and his followers are traveling in the “traces” of these three who died yesterday. It is said that Basho, after he wrote this stanza, regretted his use of such brutal imagery

 

One famous in Kyoto
to cast a spell on tumor

Base of Fuji
wearing conical hat
rides a horse

 

One with a tumor rides west, past the 25-mile-long base of Mount Fuji on his way to Kyoto (so he has a long way to go) where the well-known healer will wave his hand and say some magical words to remove the tumor . Is this reality, or a dream? Real or magic?

 

Mount Fuji is shaped like the round conical hats of East Asian farmers and travelers, worn to ward of rain and snow as well as sun and wind. Basho’s stanza is deliberately ambiguous; I and the mountain each wear a conical hat, I and the mountain each ride the horse. I bounce up and down from the movement of the horse, and the multimillion ton mountain moves up and down from the movement of my eyes on horseback. Riding a horse past Mount Fuji,  magically the mountain moves; is this reality or a dream?

 

The traveler’s
greasy smell on my pillow,

how disgusting!

Sardines are roasted by
inconstancy of our vows

 

Both men and women of the upper classes treated their hair with camellia oil so it would hold the customary styles. A meshi mori onna at a roadside inn cooks for travelers and also provides sex. She hates the greasy smell a customer leaves on her pillow. She also hates the pretence of false vows made to satisfy him with no possibility of becoming true love, and this hatred burns hot enough to roast the sardines she prepares for him.

 

In early spring of 1691, Otokuni’s departs on a journey to Edo. Basho begins the sequence with a farewell verse to the traveler:

 

Plum blossoms, young greens,
at Mariko post station
tororo yam paste

My new hat of sedge
daybreak in springtime

 

Mariko (now in Shizuoka City) is a post station on the Tokaido, about 2/3s of the way to Edo, famous for this paste of grated mountain yam seasoned and eaten over rice. The two plants are eyes, and the tasty food a smiling mouth, so Basho gives Otokuni a Happy Face to make his journey more pleasant; as he travels, he will enjoy the plum blossoms and young greens alongside the road, and anticipate that yam paste Basho enjoyed when he traveled this road years ago. Otokuni adds a brand new conical hat to Basho’s Happy Face, then provides a most wonderful background – for “daybreak in spring” suggests the famous opening to the Pillow Book. What a fine gift Basho and Otokuni have created to enrich the traveler’s journey.

 

In summer of 1693 Kyoriku set out to travel the Kiso Road through the mountains of Nagano; apparently he felt nervous about the hot muggy Japanese summer, staying in backward, unsanitary inns. Basho’s parting haiku was:


Anxious one
learn from your journey
flies in Kiso

 

Basho encourages Kyoriku to learn how to transcend the discomfort and annoyance that accompanies flies -- as Basho will do in his final moments of life. (See E-10 DYING WITH A SMILE)

 

Six hundred years before Basho, Fujiwara Teika wrote this tanka:

 

The traveler’s
sleeves blown back by
the autumn wind
Lonely evening sun
a bridge over the gorge

 

The traveler stands over the void, in the last of day light, before winter begins, looking forward to his journey, while the long hanging sleeves of his kimono blow back, with his thoughts, to his home. In the autumn of 1686 Basho and his follower Yasui wrote a stanza-pair before Yasui left on a journey. While the two were still together, Basho looks into the future to ‘see’ Yasui walk away:

 

The rear figure
of one seen off, lonely
autumn wind

Until spring has come
falling willow shadows

 

This sketch of Yasui departing, maybe never to be seen again, concludes with the autumn wind penetrating Basho’s heart. Without the extraordinary and glorious visuals -- “sleeves blown back” and “bridge over the gorge” -- of Teika’s tanka, the haiku simply conveys an experience anyone could have in autumn watching a friend depart. The magnificence of Teika’s tanka makes it irrelevant to our everyday lives. Basho aims for the reality of us, our actual experiences. Although his stanza is about loneliness, this is not the loneliness of a hermit with no friends, but rather the loneliness of watching a friend leave on a journey. In his message to Yasui before they part, Basho affirms the value of their friendship.

 

The leaves are falling from willow trees in the garden, but Yasui focuses on the kage, the “shadows,” of these falling leaves. Kage is also their “shade” which suggests the dying of the life-force in winter, and also the darkening in Basho’s heart as Yasui leaves. Yet Yasui’s stanza looks ahead, beyond the autumn wind, to the buds left behind by those falling leaves, the buds which, when spring has come, will give birth to new willow leaves – thus he promises to Basho that he, like Spring, will return to fill the loneliness in Basho’s heart.


Washed my feet
and soon came the dawn --
slept in my cloths

 

After a long day on the road, Basho arrived at his inn, sat down in his room, removed his sandals and washed his dirty feet, then lay down for a short rest before dinner – and woke up at dawn still in his travelling robe.

 

In summer, 1678, the mother of  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 is called “offering water.” Rice is cooked then dried and ground to a powder, for travelers to carry on journeys; adding water makes a meal. May Fuboku’s mother add the sacred water of the temple to the dried rice powder for nourishment on her long journey.

 

Five years after his journey to the Deep North, Basho, accompanied by his 15 year old grandnephew Jirobei, set out on another journey. Here Basho writes to Sora five days into the journey:

 

Jirobei has learned a bit, and is doing well,
but by and by, his body gets exhausted,
again and again. Because of rain at Hakone,
we had great difficulty, so down from the pass
we strapped our bags to a palanquin, and we rode too.
Eventually we got to Mishima and stayed there,
in Shinmachi at a courier’s lodging called Numazu-ya
owned by a man named Kurobei, a really fine place,
the best I’ve ever stayed in…

 

 

My chronic disease has not arisen
so I have no doubt we will arrive safely in Kansai,
though I have been feeling restless
and my mental part is tired.

 

They had to stay for three days in Shimada because the Oi River was flooded from summer rains.

A second letter to Sora, six weeks later, continues the story:

 

For three days Jirobei rested his legs
and my energy too was nourished,
so in happiness we encountered the water.
I wrote you before that Jirobei got exhausted.
Well, after his three-day rest
he became robust and really makes an effort.. .
Just as we came upon the turnoff to Nagoya,
both his legs and shoulders became strong together.
His first journey continues to be praiseworthy.

 

In May some fields in Japan are covered with tall yellow stalks of barley; once these are harvested, the fields are ploughed and flooded with water, then rice seedlings are transferred to the mud. Basho is visiting Kakei’s home in Nagoya. The host and his guest portray this interface between barley and rice.

 

Till it’s soft
you must boil this year’s
homegrown barley

Together with rice planters
early rising on a journey

 

Kakei begins with an expression of hospitality; he orders his wife or servants to boil the new just-harvested barley (not last year’s leftovers) to a softness Basho’s chronically ill digestive system can manage. Basho replies with a message of consideration to the wife or servants; it is easier to serve breakfast to everybody at once instead of providing the meal to Basho at a later time. Thus the stanza pair portrays the give-and-take of human relations

 

Also in Nagoya on this final journey, Basho wrote:

 

On Life’s Journey
plowing a small field
going and returning

 

May the “great warriors” forego ambition leading to war, so we all go and return in peace.

 

On his deathbed, four days before the end,

 

In sickness:

On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

 

“Fields” are land covered with grasses and wildflowers, the home of insects and birds. “Fields” may also be the body while dreams are the spirit which animates the flesh for a while and then passes on. In the spring and summer and autumn of life, dreams wander about fields bright in the sunshine and alive with birdsong. But then comes winter, time for dreams to wander off into eternity. This lonely desolate poem, however, did not end Basho’s poetic journey; the next day he wrote another haiku:

 

Clear cascade
into the ripples fall
green pine needles

 

The green in CLEAR CASCADE is a rejuvenation in Basho’s spirit, another (though not the final) casting off of the heaviness and negativity of Japanese thought, a reaffirmation of Lightness as the Way of Basho. Instead of an old man sadly wandering about and dying we feel youth lightly flowing onward. But this rejuvenation is only an illusion, a deep-rooted illusion of what is gone.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Water with Movement (G-04) (G-06) Kyoto in Basho >>


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