Basho's thoughts on...
• What Children Do: Basho Honors the Young
• 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  >  Letters Year by Year  >  G-14


Letters of 1691

Letters to Chigetsu, Ensui, Uko, and Kyokusui.

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

Basho’s sojourn in the Kansai area continues into this year with these friendly letters


He began the year ( January 29, 1691, by the Western calender) in Otsu, but then returned to his hometown. The first of four letters for this year, to Chigetsu, was written in early Spring to thank her for presents of food she sent to Basho in his childhood home.The second 1691 letter, to Ensui, tells how Basho in summer enjoyed staying at Kyorai’s cottage, the House of Fallen Persimmons, in Saga, west of Kyoto.

From Kyoto, Basho returned to Zeze to spend autumn in a new hut his followers there built for him on the ground of Gichiji Temple; here he wrote the third 1691 letter, to Uko in Kyoto.From Zeze, in winter Basho headed back east to Edo; on the way, east of Nagoya, he received letters from Kyokusui and Shado in Zeze. Later on, after he got back to Edo, in January (actually 1692 but counted as part of 1691, because the lunar New Year of 1692 came on February 17th.) he wrote our fourth letter to Kyokusui

 

Rokubei carried presents from Chigetsu’s house in Zeze to Basho’s house, a walk of about 36 miles over a low range of mountains. Basho replied with a letter Rokubei carried back to Chigetsu.

 

             Letter 101 to Chigetsu, February 16, 1691

 

Rokubei stayed here one night.
For all he did, you should not scold him.
My sick bowels for 53 days now have felt fine
and this spring I will take care of my health
and become fierce as a demon.
Needing no cushion in the palanquin,
shoulders and hips painful, I entered Iga.

 

Basho is concerned that Chigetsu will scold Rokubei for imposing on his family, but he assures her that they were happy to have Rokebei stay. Basho pays attention to servants. He counts the days he is free from his chronic disease – Really? Exactly 53! In a letter to a woman, he tells the condition of his bowels; now that’s personal! He rode into Iga in a palanquin carried by four bearers, but his butt was so pain-free he did not need a cushion underneath those cheeks -- however the space within the palanquin was confining so after many hours his hips and shoulders hurt. The mustard greens were divided and sent about, the sake shall entertain a multitude of followers. Group consciousness being central to Japanese thought, Basho communicates his family’s gratitude for Chigetsu’s presents by telling how they shared and will share them with others.

 

Your daughter-in-law always, always
breaking her bones till it hurts to see her.
and so we should feel gratitude.
I hope you will be very, very aware of this.

 

Basho speaks of the yome, Chigetsu’s daughter-in-law who came to this household decades ago. Without Abigail Adams to remind him, Basho “remembers the ladies.”

 

              Letter 109 to Ensui, June 6, 1691

 

I did some sightseeing and returned home,
and that was when I realized my gratitude
for your wife’s courtesy when I visited your home.

 

Basho did not particularly notice the wife’s hospitality when he was there, and only later realized.

 

I am grateful for the elegance of the journey
for the misery of my flea bites, for the entire tale…
Sora by chance was here in Kyoto and missed meeting you in Edo:        his pilgrimage was the fulfillment of his long cherished hope,            and quite a feat.

As for me, there has been no change.
Rceently I stayed in Kyorai’s cottage in Saga,
being at peace and eating bamboo shoots.
We rode a sight-seeing boat on the Oi River
and ordinary people treated us to fish.
Morning and evening, I viewed Mount Arashi.
and I wondered “how is Mount Fuji?”

 

People want their cultivated chrysanthemums to be perfectly healthy for the Chrysanthemum Festival on the 9th Day of the 9th Moon (in 1691, October 29), when everyone goes around town admiring the many different colors and arrangement of this late autumn flower. It is a custom to wrap cotton around them in the days before the festival so they won’t catch cold. Uko sent Basho a present, a cushion she designed and sewed to fit around his hips while he sits to keep them warm this coming winter.

 

            Letter 116 to Uko, October 3, 1691.

 

With your letter came the cushion
you made for my hips and sent to me
from the intention of your heart,
not from a shallow place within you,
and so I am grateful.
Now as we wrap chrysanthemums in cotton:

 

In the first frost
flowers start to feel cold,
my hip cushion

 

When finally I can go up to Kyoto I will thank you more. Basho’s writing has abundant warmth, intimacy, body consciousness, and gratitude for hospitality. He speaks about  her having “not a shallow place within you” and then he focuses on his hips.

 

I would like to think Sai-chan is becoming obedient.

 

Sai-chan is about two (in the Western count) so she has entered the ‘terrible twos,’ when every waking moment is devoted to proving independence from mama, often saying “NO!”. Japanese women today say the same about 2 or 3 year olds (otonashiku natta deshō).

 

p.s. For the letter you sent to Chigetsu
you have made me grateful.
Gentle your heart’s intention,
returning again and again.
Chigetsu also knows that feeling.

 

Chigetsu must have told Basho she got a letter from Uko. He praises the gentleness of woman, and also the solidarity of women. He seems to be building bridges between these two women followers.

 

Basho left Zeze, where Chigetsu, Kyokusui, and Shado live at the end of autumn, heading east back to Edo. In Okazaki, east of Nagoya, he received letters from Kyokusui and Shado. Two weeks after he arrived in Edo, while staying in a rental house, he sent Kyokusui this journey through the mind of Basho:

 

Letter 124 to Kyokusui, January 1, 1692

 

To be a beggar on a pilgrimage is my vice,
so always your kindness is in my heart,
Deprived of the leisure I had in Kansai,
one short letter is all I will allow.

Basho literally writes “your kindness is in my heart.” Tanaka translates that to modern Japanese for “I appreciate your kindness.” Of course that is what Basho means, however I prefer to give you Basho’s actual words and let you figure out his meaning. Furthermore his concrete words can take on deeper meanings as we explore them as he wrote them.

 

Depressed among those enlightened,
clinging to memories is my only refinement.
I ate as many pine-mushrooms and Zeze persimmons                           as my heart desired, so now have no regrets about leaving.

 

I left on November 6th and after 32 days arrived in Edo Fukagawa.      The letters you and Shado sent were delivered by Shiko to Atsuta,     and people brought them to my lodgings near Okazaki Station.

 

 

Wind blowing through rips in the paper window
moonlight shining through cracks in the door,
before a dirty lantern smelling of fish oil,
I quickly opened your letters and my tears soaked the pages.

 

In Shado’s letter he speaks of his gratitude
for three years of my hospitality, but truly
those three years my heart spent in Zeze,
whose kindness enabled that hospitality?

 

 

Basho, of course, means “Your kindness enabled that hospitality

 

Although this year and next I shall play in Edo,
to Zeze my heart points; with humility
I know not how, it is like my hometown.

 

Three years later, on his death bed, Basho requested that he be buried in Zeze at Gichuji Temple, where he remains today. He said he wanted to make it convenient for people to visit him – since Zeze (Otsu) is right on the Tokaido Road between Kyoto and Edo, while his hometown Iga is hours away from that main road – however in many letters (see H-19 ZEZE: A RESTING PLACE FOR HIS SPIRIT. Basho clearly expresses his special attraction to Zeze; here Basho realized:

The mountains in silence nourish the spirit
The water with movement calms the emotions

 

I pray you will stay firm in your work,
and Master Takesuke will have no distress.
Shado for his eyes to recuperate must be diligent.
I am so scattered I send letters to no one.
I met with Kikaku and we gossiped about you.


Basho says “I met with Kikaku and we gossiped about you” The word “gossip” (uwasa) is actually there in the Japanese. Tanaka apparently feels this word is not suitable for the great poet-saint, so he changes it to “we spoke about you.” Again, I follow Basho in using unconventional and interesting words.

 

p.s. I have not decided where I will live.

 

The rental house where he stays until June, and the building of a new hut for him by his Edo followers, are discussed in detail in letter 140 to Kyorai (BASHO LETTERS.OF 1692).

 

 

                       basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Letters of 1690: (G-13) (G-15) Letters of 1692 >>


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...
• What Children Do: Basho Honors the Young
• 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