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-08


Basho in Saga

9 Basho haiku, 3 renku, 7 haibun, 3 letters,

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

Basho’s follower Kyorai, the second son of a doctor of Chinese medicine in Kyoto, had a cottage in Saga on the western outskirts. Basho, here for 16 days in 1691,  wrote this haibun:


The one in Kyoto named Kyorai has a cottage
in lower Saga within a bamboo grove,
at the base of Mount Arashi,
close to the flowing Katsura River.
It is a convenient place for leisure,
a place where the heart can clear.
This Kyorai is a really lazy guy
and the grass stands high before the window,
while persimmon trees stick out over the roof.
Summer rains leaking everywhere,
tatami mats and paper doors smell of mold,
and finding a place to sleep is not so easy.

 

One autumn Kyorai planned to pick the persimmons hanging over the roof the next day, but you know, man, he did not get around to it, and the rain that night knocked them to the ground, so he called the place “House of Fallen Persimmons.” Sounds like a hippie.

 

Prose passages and haiku on the next eight pages from Basho’s Saga

Diary are given their dates by the Western calendar for 1691. On his

first day in the cottage, Basho went to see “traces” of a woman.

 

May 16 -

We visit Rinsen Temple. The Katsura flows before,
while the heights of Mount Arashi continue from
the right down to Matsuo village. Many people
come and go to the Kokuzo. Among the bamboos
of Matsuo is said to be where Lady Kogo hid
herself in a cottage, although altogether there are
three places up and down Saga which make this
claim, and the true site cannot be determined.
Matsuo is where Nakakuni stopped his horse,
at the so-called “Horse-stopping Bridge”,
so for the while, shall we say this is it?

 

Kogo was taken as a courtesan by the Emperor Takakura already married to the daughter of Kiyomori, chief of the Heike clan ruling Japan. Kogo hid from Kiyomori’s rage in an isolated cottage in Saga

with many enormous bamboo groves. The anguished emperor sent a palace guard named Nakakuni to search for her. Kogo was a virtuoso on the koto or 13 string harp which suggests the sensitivity

in her heart. Nakakuni rode all around Saga until the sound of her koto brought his horse to a stop on a bridge.

 

Three places in Saga claim to be the site of Kogo’s cottage, but Basho is not one to be fooled by some tourist trap on the other side of town from the Horse-stopping Bridge. Kogo returned with Nakakuni to the Capital, but when Kiyomori found out she was back, he was furious. He forced her into a nunnery and she later threw herself into the river.

 

Her grave lies in a bamboo grove next to Sangenya
and by the gravestone is a cherry tree.
Graciously she awoke and slept on embroidered silk
only to become dust and rubbish among bamboos.
Willows in the village of King Sokun,
Blossoms at the Shrine of the Goddess Fujo,
the past fills my thoughts.

 

The final sentence reaches to the Outer Limits of Obscurity: an old Chinese poem compares the arch of willow branches in the village where King Sokun was born to a lady’s eyebrows; and the blossoms

at the shrine of the goddess Fujo to crimson lipstick; this sketch of Kogo’s face – only eyebrows and lips        (a motif often seen in modern advertising) - fills Basho’s thoughts.

 

Nodes of sorrow—
to become bamboo shoots
at her end

 

Each of the nodes at regular intervals along hollows stems of bamboo forms a solid disk through the diameter. Life moves along smoothly but every so often come to a solid mass of sorrow. Kon speaks of Lady Kogo “tossed about in the world, finally to be buried in a bamboo grove where she changed into bamboo shoots, the end of her road so pathetically sad.”


May 17 

 

Ho toto GI su
through great bamboo grove
moonlight trickles

 

Towering bamboos form a cathedral of green with moonlight trickling through; the clear bright five-note call of the little cuckoo punctuates the feeling of divine presence.

 

So Basho would not be lonely, either Kyorai or Boncho stayed the night. On May 16th, Boncho spent the night. His wife, Uko who is a nun, came out to the cottage the next day.


The nun Uko arrives for a festival in North Saga.
Kyorai also came out from Kyoto.
Kyorai’s brother’s wife sent us cakes and side dishes.

 

Come here again
strawberries will brighten
Saga Mountain

 

This verse by Uko is the only haiku by a woman in Basho’s published prose. Uko demonstrates the traditional role of women in Japanese society: providing hospitality. Instead of putting forth her own experience, Uko focuses on Basho, welcoming him to Kyoto and Saga by saying that whenever he comes here, strawberries will redden to celebrate his presence.

 

While Basho was in Saga, he helped Kyorai and another follower Boncho compile a major anthology of the Basho school, Monkey’s Raincoat, to be published later that summer. Here is a renku from it:


Evening dusk,
going back for the pipe
he left behind

Rice maidens for fun
throw mud at each other

Stone Buddhas
there are none without
features missing

 

A traveler took a break from walking to sit and smoke his pipe, then when he got up, he left the pipe. Down the road a piece, he realized and went back to get it – however evening has fallen and the pipe is hard to find. (He sounds like me.) Basho jumps from absent-minded single man at leisure to merrymaking crew of young women up to their shins in the “chocolate milkshake” of rice paddy, flinging mud at each other, joking and laughing, The women’s behavior is ridiculous; it serves no serious economic purpose, so the old-fashioned androcentric tradition-bound mind rejects it. Basho rather sees the ridiculous in the modern way, as amusing and “fun.”

Beside the rice field, a row of stone statues of Buddha has stood there for centuries. Looking closely at each one, I see that every single one has patches of raw stone where a feature -- the nose on one, an ear on another – has broken off from the rain, snow, and wind. Rotsu contrasts the deteriorating stone Buddhas with the liveliness and vitality of Basho’s rice maidens. The trio is a sandwich: Basho’s vibrant, feminine, and playful stanza is the tasty filling between two slices of plain white bread, one masculine, the other inanimate. His stanza may not appear so special when considered by itself, however standing out from the stanzas before and after, it becomes a feminine anthem. The female liveliness in Basho’s stanza is all the more lively and feminine in contrast to the leisurely bumbling male and the ancient stone statues.

 

Tonight Uko and husband stay over and

with five people lying up and down in one mosquito net
even though it be night we cannot sleep
so after midnight we each come out from the net,
bring out the day’s cakes and sake cups,
then till the approach of dawn our talk grows light. . .

 

The fifth person may be either the delivery guy who brought the

cakes from Kyorai’s house, or a fellow named Yohei who lives next

door and is caretaker of the cottage when Kyorai is not here. The mosquito net is a special one, made for fishermen to set up over the river, so it’s pretty big – two tatami mats, about 6 foot square. They appear to be lying in alternating directions, “up and down,” my shoulders near your knees, for efficient use of space. In Japan both genders may sleep in the same room, in separate parts of the tatami floor, with no thought of sex. Still, five adults spread out inside one mosquito net is bound to get interesting, especially when one is a

woman and furthermore a nun, and there is also her husband who is a doctor, their Poetry Master, the guy who owns the cottage, and someone else, presumably of a lower social class, but they all lie down together in one mosquito net.


No one gets any sleep though, so they “each come out from the net” and eat some cakes and drink some sake until everyone gets light and happy and they party till dawn. They sound like college students.

These are not the Japanese Ruth Benedict portrays in TheChrysanthemum and the Sword, all taken up in working off obligations, stiff with the dictates of hierarchy and proper behavior, males always dominating females. Basho says ‘lighten up’ on the issues of obligation, hierarchy, custom, and gender—or maybe that

Japanese society was not so severe as Western writers portray it, or maybe that the crowd Basho hangs out with was exceptionally loose.

 

With daylight Uko and Boncho went back to Kyoto
while Kyorai stayed on.

 

May 20

 

Clapping my hands
day breaks in the echoes
summer moon

So often in poetry Basho speaks of specific body parts and sensations. 

Bamboo shoots
as a child, absorbed
in drawing them

 

The scene of this year’s baby bamboos, like brown pointed magician’s hats, peeking out here and there among their towering parents, is one any child would love to draw. Susabi is the absorption of a child in learning, the compulsion to practice a task over and over again,as Maria Montessori repeatedly described and produced schools to facilitate, so we see 5 year old Basho hunched over the paper, concentrating his entire being on drawing that conical shape on a flat piece of paper,

 

Good for nothing
I just want to sleep
noisy bird

 

The reed warbler adds its irritating squawk, day or night, to the overall oppressiveness of the summer season. The scholar Kon elaborates:

 

“One exhausting endless summer day, having done nothing for days,

with no talent for anything, I just want to sleep – but a reed warbler starts to squawk

so I cannot. Oh! reed warbler, won’t you stop squawking for a bit.”


Basho’s friend Tokoku, his travelling companion for four months in 1688, died in 1690 aged 30.

 

May 25:

 

In dreams Tokoku appeared and weeping awoke me.
Time shared with the spirit becomes a dream.
When yang is exhausted, we dream of fire;
when yin declines, we dream of water.

 

When Yang, the hot, active aspect of the universe, is exhausted, we dream of fire to replenish it -- a weakness of Yin, the cold, passive, and hidden part, is replenished by a dream of water. Basho says that

through dreams we regulate our own health.

 

My dreams are not those of saints or gentlemen.
All day long the illusions scatter about,
and in the night shadows, dreams are just the same.
Truly to see Tokoku in a dream
can be called a dream of remembrance.
He followed me to my old village
where my aspirations began, and at night
we lay down and got up on the same floor.
He helped me in the toil of a pilgrimage,
for hundred days he followed me like my shadow.
At times we had fun, at times we were sad.
His intentions dyed the lining of my heart.

 

The words are so very simple, at first they seem not to mean much, however, because they are so simple, they can, if we let them, takeon deep personal and social meaning. The image of “dyeing the (kimono) lining,” women soaking fabric in dye to color it before sewing together the two layers of a kimono, adds romantic beauty to the prose. Basho applies this active female image to the innermost places in his heart. Recalling the fun and sadness he shared with Tokoku, friendship soaks the inner layers of his heart.

 

May 29

 

Sora has come to visit:
his pilgrimage to the blossoms at Yoshino
and the Kumano Shrine went well.
We spoke of old friends and followers in Edo
this and that mixed together.
With the evening sun we rode a boat
up the Katsura River past Mount Arashi
to the rapids at Tonase. It began to rain and
with evening falling, we returned to the cottage.

 

May 30

Last night’s rain continued to fall
all day and night without stopping.
Together listening and speaking more
about those in Edo, finally it dawned.

 

May 31

Not having slept last night,
I lie down and sleep all day.

Around noon, the rain stopped.
Tomorrow I leave the cottage,
so I cherish my final moments here,
from inner rooms to entranceway,
looking around from place to place.

 

Long summer rains—
poetry cards peeled off,
traces on the wall

 

Notices on the wall some rectangular spaces less discolored than the rest of the wall, Basho realizes that a former resident pasted his favorite poetry cards here and removed them when he left; in these “traces” remaining from a consciousness here long ago, Basho imagines the lovely fair-weather scenes in the poems no longer there.


A few days after leaving the cottage, Basho wrote to his old friend in Iga, Ensui


Recently I stayed in Kyorai’s cottage in Saga,
being at peace and eating bamboo shoots.
We rode a boat on the river
and lay people treated us to fish.
Morning and evening, I viewed Mount Arashi.
and wondered “how is Mount Fuji?”

 

With his eyes on Mount Arashi across the river, Basho sends his spirit to the vastly greater mountain 350 kilometers away:


Mount Arashi
overgrown with thick green
fibers of the wind

 

Basho’s stanza on the next page is the doorway to a woman-centered section in the otherwise male-dominated Tale of the Heike: the story of four women making their own decisions and interacting

with each other without male presence in much of the long detailed story; the events take place in Saga,  and Saga is where you find traces of these events: the temple Gioji in the northwest corner of the area.


Gio and her sister Gijo were shirabyoshi, "white rhythm" dancers who captivated men with their graceful movements, beauty and hair. Their mother Tashi had been a shirabyoshi as well. Gio became the favorite of the arrogant prime minister of Japan, Taira Kiyomori, who allot large allowances to the family so they could live in luxury. But then a younger shirabyoshi appeared on the scene, attracting much attention, but Kiyomori refused to hear her because he had Gio. Gio insisted that the new girl be allowed to perform. She did and took Kiyomori’s heart. From that moment he abandoned Gio and her family, leaving them in poverty. Gio eventually shaved her head to become a nun and live in seclusion in Saga, then her sister and

mother did so as well One night brought a knock on their door: it was the new favourite who realized that the same thing would happen to her as happened to Gio, so she voluntarily gave up her position in Kiyomori’s service, and joined them. Gio said, “And what could bring greater happiness than for us to tread the same path together for the rest of this life?” She is known as Hotoke Gozen, Lady Buddha, because while the three others were reduced to poverty and forced to give up the world, Lady Buddha did so of her own accord from a position of wealth and luxury.


The four nuns lived and prayed together in solidarity, and it is said all reached enlightenment. The temple was renamed Gioji; visitors can see statues of the four ladies, and also their gravestones. From

this story, and its message of female solidarity, I feel justified in translating “ladies’ temple” in Basho stanza.

 

Her hair gone,
chamberlain’s daughter
grown weary

Storm over Nonomiya
ladies’ temple bells

 

The Grand Chamberlain (Jijū) is a chief functionary of the Imperial court, and aide to the Emperor of Japan. He also keeps the Privy Seal and the State Seal, but his high rank does not prevent his daughter from experiencing the travails of life. She cuts her hair and escapes to Saga, at the foot of Mount Arashi (Storm Mountain). The Ninomiya Shrine is one of the most famous places in Saga, and Gioji, the temple where Gio and her compatriots lived and prayed, is within walking distance. Because “Gio” sounds like “Gion,” the stanza in Japanese recalls the famous opening to the Tales of the Heike:

 

“The sound of the Gion Shōja bells echoes the impermanence of all things....

The proud donot endure, like a dream on a spring night, the mighty fall at last,

as dust before the wind.”

 

The Gion Shoja (or Jetavana) temple in India is where the Buddha gave most of his discourses. This passage can refer to the fall of Kiyomori and his clan from power and wealth to exile and death – however the words well apply to the tale of the four ladies.


Basho sets up the opposition of storm and bells. The first is wild, violent, uncaring; the second deep, steady, and unifying. The storm represents the arrogance and intimidating behavior of men such as Kiyomori, the bells are the steady, focused energy of “ladies.” Temple bells, with their reverberations of up to a full minute, are conducive to meditation, and have become a symbol for world peace. “Bells” as final word of the verse resounds through the weariness of the daughter as well as the violence of the storm.

 

Basho returned to Edo at the end of 1691. He stayed there for all of 1692 and ’93. On June 3rd of 1694, he set out west on his final journey, accompanied by his 15 year old grandnephew Jirobei. In a letter to Sora on July 13, 1694, Basho in Zeze says 

 

Soon we will go up to Kyoto and meet Kyorai.
The cottage at Saga has been somewhat renovated
and will be a secluded place to spend the summer.

 

 

When Basho stayed in Kyorai’s House of Fallen Persimmons for two weeks in 1691, it certainly needed renovation. On July 14, they left Zeze to walk to Saga.  Basho apparently wrote this haiku about his experience on the road to Kyorai's cottage, and then used the verse to begin a renku composed there:

.

Wicker basket’s
cool weight on one shoulder
first musk melon

 

The sensations in this verse are remarkable: the coolness of melon seeping through the willow-branch basket on one shoulder, the body adjusting to compensate for the extra weight on one side, the

anticipation of sharing the sweet juicy melon with good friends when he arrives.


 Here is a stanza-pair from that sequence:


Removing headband
he lets down ox’s load

One river
crossed in the cold
of daybreak

 

Basho poetry focuses on body parts, actions, and sensations.

 

On the 23rd day of the Intercalary 5th Moon -- July 15, 1694 –Basho in The House of Fallen Persimmons sent his follower Shiko a letter:


The two things you sent with your best wishes
will be most valuable, especially on a journey.
Today Kyorai was cleaning the pipe for me,
and this being the first time he did this,
“pipe cleaning” shall be a seasonal reference
to the Intercalary 5th Moon.

 

One present Shiko sent was a kiseru, a long thin pipe with bamboo shaft and metal mouthpiece and bowl. The bowl is tiny, only big enough for two or three inhales. Wikipedia says “Kiseru were used for smoking a fine, shredded tobacco, as well as cannabis.” (Before World War II, cannabis was often smoked both for recreation and medicine.) Basho makes the absurd suggestion that ‘pipe cleaning’ become a reference to the Intercalary 5th Moon because the illustrious non-smoker Kyorai cleaned a kiseru for the very first time during this Intercalary 5th Moon. So, when the next Intercalary 5th Moon comes in thirty-six years, it will be remembered as the season of Kyorai cleaning the kiseru. How ridiculous! but then that’s par for the course in this letter.


You sent your other present in the wrong season,
so from now on, it too will refer to this season.
Always remember what you have learned here.
This evening why don’t you come visit me?
p.s. In fact, by chance, at this time last year in Bufu,
I forgot my gaiters, so shall “gaiters” set the season?

 

“Bufu” is a funny-sounding alternate name for the province where Edo is. Gaiters of straw or cloth, are worn to protect the lower legs while travelling If Basho was smoking cannabis in Kyorai’s hippie cottage, that helps to explain his bizarre sense of humor.

 

On July 24th at the House of Fallen Persimmons, Basho wrote in a letter to his neighbour Ihei at home in Fukagawa near Edo:


These days impoverished followers of mine
from Kyoto and Osaka gather about
and we eat up all the food in the house
and spend our time with great laughter.

 

Basho sounds like a fun guy who enjoys eating and laughing with young people.

Makota Ueda translates this passage,

“Penniless students of mine in Kyoto and Osaka rush here

one after another these days: they eat all the food

available and spend their time in loud laughter”

 

In Ueda’s words, Basho is not a part of the eating, drinking and laughing; he sounds like a fussy old man annoyed with his followers. The Japanese (as usual) is vague; it can be taken either way -Basho eating and laughing with them, or Basho annoyed at their eating and laughter – but Japanese Language Instructor Shoko can see no sign of annoyance in the original. Ueda’s translation is heavy, coming from the “no-fun” Basho image. Our translation is light and leads to “Dear Uncle Basho.”


Here beside the river in Saga, Basho wrote this haiku:

 

River Katsura
no dust in the ripples
summer moon

 

Basho sees his Ideal of Purity in the round moon on flowing water.

 

Basho returned to Zeze in early August, then to Iga for September, Nara on October 28th and finally Osaka. After midnight on November 24th on his deathbed Basho wrote his famous haiku about dreams wandering about on withered fields. He went to sleep; when he awoke the next day, he asked Shiko


“Do you remember this summer, when I was in Saga
that verse about the Katsura River?”

 

Basho told Shiko to revise this to:

 

Clear Cascade
into the ripples fall
green pine needles

 

This poem actually was Basho’s final poem, although scholars donot count it as such. Because the season in the poem is summer while the season in reality was winter, scholars say CLEAR CASCADE does not belong to the end of Basho’s life; it appears in the chronology of Basho poetry in summer where nobody notices it.

Basho, however, wrote the verse upon waking from sleep, so it is reasonable to imagine it as a record of Basho’s dream. In sleep Basho left his sick old body dying in the cold winter night to dream travel back to summer in Saga beside the raging river. As a dream-haiku, this verse does belong to the early winter night of 1694 and is Basho’s death verse.


The pine needles, still green and full of life, fall into the rushing water, and swirl about and away, leaving no traces of their existence. The flow never returns and what is gone is gone forever.

 

 basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Iga Ninja – Three Prologues (G-07) (G-09) Zeze: Resting Place for his Spirit >>


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