Basho's thoughts on...
• Introduction to this site
• The Human Story:
• Praise for Women
• Love and Sex in Basho
• Children and Teens
• Humanity and Friendship
• On Translating Basho
• Basho Himself
• Poetry and Music
• The Physical Body
• Food, Drink, and Fire
• Animals in Basho
• Space and Time
• Letters Year by Year
• Bilingual Basho 日本語も
• 芭蕉について日本語の論文
• Basho Renku, 芭蕉連句
• Women in Basho
• BAMHAY (Basho Amazes Me! How About You?)
• New Articles


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

The only substantial
collection in English
of Basho's renku, tanka,
letters and spoken word
along with his haiku, travel
journals, and essays.

The only poet in old-time
literature who paid attention with praise
to ordinary women, children, and teenagers
in hundreds of poems

Hundreds upon hundreds of Basho works
(mostly renku)about women, children,
teenagers, friendship, compassion, love.

These are resources we can use to better
understand ourselves and humanity.

Interesting and heartfelt
(not scholarly and boring)
for anyone concerned with
humanity.


“An astonishing range of
social subject matter and
compassionate intuition”


"The primordial power
of the feminine emanating
from Basho's poetry"


Hopeful, life-affirming
messages from one of
the greatest minds ever.

Through his letters,
we travel through his mind
and discover Basho's
gentleness and humanity.

I plead for your help in
finding a person or group
to take over my 3000 pages of Basho material,
to edit and improve the material, to receive 100%
of royalties, to spread Basho’s wisdom worldwide
and preserve for future generations.

Quotations from Basho Prose


The days and months are
guests passing through eternity.
The years that go by
also are travelers.



The mountains in silence
nurture the spirit;
the water with movement
calms the emotions.


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


Seek not the traces
of the ancients;
seek rather the
places they sought.



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


"The attachment to Oldness
is the very worst disease
a poet can have."


“The skillful have a disease;
let a three-foot child
get the poem"


"Be sick and tired
of yesterday’s self."


"This is the path of a fresh
lively taste with aliveness
in both heart and words."
.

"In poetry is a realm
which cannot be taught.
You must pass through it
yourself. Some poets have made
no effort to pass through, merely
counting things and trying
to remember them.
There was no passing
through the things."


"In verses of other poets,
there is too much making
and the heart’s
immediacy is lost.
What is made from
the heart is good;
the product of words
shall not be preferred."


"We can live without poetry,
yet without harmonizing
with the world’s feeling
and passing not through
human feeling, a person
cannot be fulfilled. Also,
without good friends,
this would be difficult."


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


"Many of my followers
write haiku equal to mine,
however in renku is the
bone marrow of this old man."


"Your following stanza
should suit the previous one as an expression
of the same heart's connection."


"Link verses the way
children play."


"Make renku
ride the Energy.
Get the timing wrong,
you ruin the rhythm."


"The physical form
first of all must be graceful
then a musical quality
makes a superior verse."

"As the years passed
by to half a century.
asleep I hovered
among morning clouds
and evening dusk,
awake I was astonished
at the voices of mountain
streams and wild birds."


“These flies sure enjoy
having an unexpected
sick person.”



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


On Life's journey
plowing a small field
going and returning


Child of poverty
hulling rice, pauses to
look at the moon


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

With her needle
in autumn she manages
to make ends meet
Daughter playing koto
reaches age seven


After the years
of grieving. . . finally
past eighteen
Day and night dreams of
Father in that battle


Now to this brothel
my body has been sold
Can I trust you
with a letter I wrote,
mirror polisher?


Only my face
by rice-seedling mud
is not soiled
Breastfeeding on my lap
what dreams do you see?



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com

 



Home  >  Topics  >  Animals in Basho  >  F-14


Deer Alive

7 Basho haiku and 4 renku about bucks, does, and fawns

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

 Basho writes not about hunting, venison, or buckskin, but rather deer alive, moving, growing, calling, copulating. Deer combine soft, gentle qualities with strength and determination. They are considered sacred animals, messengers of the gods, both in Shinto and Buddhism. They graze in open woodlands in the morning and evening, emerging from their resting places in the woods; in a few places, especially Nara, they appear in populated areas.


Bright moon reclines
upon low stone wall

Deer chased
through the city gates
jumps over one

 

Ensui envisions the moon taking a rest on the stone wall. Basho adds a living, breathing, fleeing animal. Both moon and deer appear low to the horizon, with the vast night sky above.

 

 On the 8th day of the 4th Lunar Moon (in 1688, May 17th), when so many things are beginning life, in Buddhist temples worshippers pour sweet green tea from tiny ladles over a statue of the Compassionate One as an infant.

 

Buddha’s Birthday
on this day is born
a baby deer

 

 

Fawns conceived in  autumn  now are born, 18 inches long, weighing 13 pounds.   The doe licks her baby all over, and baby stands up on spindly legs within 15 minutes. Basho sees within Buddhism the Light of eternal creation.


 

Telling the Truth
of Buddhism is sad,
field of graves

Chased, the doe flees,
leaving behind her fawn

 

The first poet writes a masculine and literary stanza -- philosophical, religious, inanimate -- then Basho jumps away from abstractions and lifelessness to the intense activity and the raw life experience of females and their young.  Rather than abandoning her child to save her own hide, she is drawing the attacker away from the baby hidden in the bush.

 

The aged nun has
 a story to tell

Filled with pity,

her message to rescue
abandoned child

A deer pulls the sleeve
of someone in the village
 

The first poet provides an empty space with boundaries – the aged nun and her enthusiasm in telling the story – with no story content. Basho fulfils ‘s this vision within the boundaries set.The old Buddhist nun recalls a night long ago when she commanded a temple servant to go out and rescue that baby crying. Buddhism tells us to let go of attachments and accept the passage of life and death – but this nun chose instead to rescue a life. She feels the glory of her deed. 

 

Kikaku transfers the compassion in Basho’s stanza to a deer – probably female -- who found the abandoned child in the mountains, and was “filled with pity” for this baby of another species.  Realizing her absolute inability to do anything to help, she walked, carrying compassion with her, to a village where she chose a human being with a warm heart, and pulled on her sleeve, to get her to come up to where the child was.  (Could this really happen?)  The poet places the “pity” and “message to rescue” from Basho’s stanza into an entirely different species and reality, so compassion transcends the barriers between us and another life form. This stanza by Kikaku embodies the spirit of renku. The connection between aged nun and compassionate deer, like a riddle, is Kikaku’s mastery – and we note that Basho set this up for him. 

 

 Animal researcher Mark Brazil says, “In the autumn and early winter, on calm nights or early in the morning and evening, from deep in the forest or up on the mountain slopes, you'll hear an occasional, far carrying sound: a long drawn out, slightly mournful whistle that first rises then descends at the end. It is the sound of a male deer calling...This call must rank as one of the most stirring, hauntingly beautiful sounds one can hear while out hiking in Japan. This striking noise is the sound of allure, of aggression and of frustration; it is the sound of 'come hither' (if you are a female deer), or of 'flee, you wimp' (if you are another male and not up for the competition). It is the sound of the rut.

 

In 1675 when Basho was only thirty, he wrote

 

 Musashi Plain
 for all of one inch

 a deer’s call
 

The wide mostly flat plains west and north of modern-day Tokyo, in Basho’s day still mostly woodlands, is the largest level expanse in mountainous Japan. Basho is exploring the dimensions of space, seeing how one inch of sound relates to miles and miles of open land.

19 years later, in his final autumn, he wrote:

 

Biiii how sad
the lingering cry . . .
a deer in the night

 

This haiku is acclaimed for using the onomatopoeia biiii for the sound of the deer’s cry.  Haruo Shirane describes the Lightness here:  “the overtones... are generated by rhythm and sound rather than by allegory or abstract concepts, and in this sense they represent the antithesis of heaviness.”


Sinking in
 to chill the hot spring,
 awesome moo

 Of the three deer

 one carries an arrow

 

The moon above the hot pool is so clear its light penetrates to the bottom, chilling the hot water.  Three deer come to drink the mineral water. One carries an arrow which seems to have caused a wound slight enough that the deer can still move about. She needs those minerals to heal herself.

 

Basho wrote the following haiku in 1688 about parting from his childhood and lifelong friend Ensui

 

 Parting from an old friend in Nara

 

Deer’s antler
one joint beginning
to divide
 

Antlers, extensions of the male deer skull, are shed and regrown each year (unlike horns which are permanent). While an antler is growing, it is covered with highly vascular skin called velvet, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing bone. Growth occurs at the tip, and is initially cartilage, which is later replaced by bone tissue. Basho focuses on the moment when one section of bone produces two knobs of cartilage which grow separately, which is Ensui and Basho parting from each other.

 

As two tines of the antler are separate yet come from the same source, Basho and Ensui grew up together in Iga then separated to live far away from each other, each still with memories of being together in Iga, their roots.      

           

 The stars indeed

 lay out their blanket

 of spotted fur 

                       

Deer in Japan, both male and female, have white spots – looking like stars – scattered about their fur. The Two Stars  (of the Tanabata legend) are ready to roll, so they lay out their blanket of spotted fur, and of course this is autumn  when the doe and buck do their thing.  Androcentrics say  the strongest male controls a “harem” of five or six females.  Gynocentrics say females form a collective to share one male hunk.

  

               

 Waving her white
 scarf, doe approaches
 Buck Island

 

Now, what do we have here?  Kon tells us: “A hire was a white scarf worn by Japanese women in the Nara and Heian eras, fabric hanging free left and right. When beckoning to someone, or in the reluctance to part, she would wave it to express affection.”  The doe also has a white flag on her butt which she waves when she is ready to get it on with the buck. Obviously the translation derives a certain power from the similarity between the English word for a male deer and a word that rhymes with it. 

     

Doe and buck
fur merging with fur
hair-raising

 

The lower segment suggests 1) piloerection, when skin hairs stand on end due to stress, and 2) “irritable, testy”. So the segment could also be translated “nervousness.” The buck’s fur is merging (sorou) with the doe’s.  Sounds sexy. Tactile stimulation of the skin hairs – even without touching the skin – can be most arousing, and here, as he thrusts into her, their separate furs merge into one fur.  

 

In this intimate sensual look at deer fornication, 27 year old Basho is saying something, but I am not sure what.  One Japanese male scholar say the verse is “foolish” (aho rashi) and “gives the reader permission to laugh.”  In other words, like the schoolboy he used to be, he sees the sex act as humorous. Men take the lower segment to refer to the observer of the scene; he feels “nervous” watching the buck do it. (Comparing performances.) Japanese always laugh to cover their nervousness.                               

 

Another approach to the verse is possible:  “hair-raising” refers not to the buck doing it, but rather to the doe being done to. Instead of laughing at the sex act, we observe it without passion, as ethologists do.  Instead of concentrating on the big fella thrusting, we pay attention to the nervousness of the female as he assaults her backside, the adrenaline coursing through her body, causing muscles in her skin to erect her fur.  We focus on the doe, a deer, a female deer. 

 

Basho in 1671 wrote DOE AND BUCK for a poetry competition he arranged; in each round one of his verses was paired with one by another Iga poet, and Basho picked a winner. Basho’s DOE AND BUCK was paired with:                            

                       

Even a deer

shall be shot by

Ono’s gun
 

I had great difficulty understanding this verse – I kept on wondering “Who is Ono?” and “why is he shooting deer?” -- until a somewhat embarrassed Shoko said, “the gun is a penis.” Oh, now I get it.

 

 In any case, Basho judged his verse about “fur merging with fur” and “hair-raising” in deer, lively active animals, to be the winner. 

 

                            basho4humanity@gmail.com

 

  






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The Three Thirds of Basho

 

 

I plead for your help in finding a person or group to take over my 3000 pages of Basho material, to edit and improve the presentation, to receive all royalties from sales, to spread Basho’s wisdom worldwide and preserve for future generations.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com
Basho's thoughts on...
• Introduction to this site
• The Human Story:
• Praise for Women
• Love and Sex in Basho
• Children and Teens
• Humanity and Friendship
• On Translating Basho
• Basho Himself
• Poetry and Music
• The Physical Body
• Food, Drink, and Fire
• Animals in Basho
• Space and Time
• Letters Year by Year
• Bilingual Basho 日本語も
• 芭蕉について日本語の論文
• Basho Renku, 芭蕉連句
• Women in Basho
• BAMHAY (Basho Amazes Me! How About You?)
• New Articles


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

The only substantial
collection in English
of Basho's renku, tanka,
letters and spoken word
along with his haiku, travel
journals, and essays.

The only poet in old-time
literature who paid attention with praise
to ordinary women, children, and teenagers
in hundreds of poems

Hundreds upon hundreds of Basho works
(mostly renku)about women, children,
teenagers, friendship, compassion, love.

These are resources we can use to better
understand ourselves and humanity.

Interesting and heartfelt
(not scholarly and boring)
for anyone concerned with
humanity.


“An astonishing range of
social subject matter and
compassionate intuition”


"The primordial power
of the feminine emanating
from Basho's poetry"


Hopeful, life-affirming
messages from one of
the greatest minds ever.

Through his letters,
we travel through his mind
and discover Basho's
gentleness and humanity.

I plead for your help in
finding a person or group
to take over my 3000 pages of Basho material,
to edit and improve the material, to receive 100%
of royalties, to spread Basho’s wisdom worldwide
and preserve for future generations.

Quotations from Basho Prose


The days and months are
guests passing through eternity.
The years that go by
also are travelers.



The mountains in silence
nurture the spirit;
the water with movement
calms the emotions.


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


Seek not the traces
of the ancients;
seek rather the
places they sought.



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


"The attachment to Oldness
is the very worst disease
a poet can have."


“The skillful have a disease;
let a three-foot child
get the poem"


"Be sick and tired
of yesterday’s self."


"This is the path of a fresh
lively taste with aliveness
in both heart and words."
.

"In poetry is a realm
which cannot be taught.
You must pass through it
yourself. Some poets have made
no effort to pass through, merely
counting things and trying
to remember them.
There was no passing
through the things."


"In verses of other poets,
there is too much making
and the heart’s
immediacy is lost.
What is made from
the heart is good;
the product of words
shall not be preferred."


"We can live without poetry,
yet without harmonizing
with the world’s feeling
and passing not through
human feeling, a person
cannot be fulfilled. Also,
without good friends,
this would be difficult."


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


"Many of my followers
write haiku equal to mine,
however in renku is the
bone marrow of this old man."


"Your following stanza
should suit the previous one as an expression
of the same heart's connection."


"Link verses the way
children play."


"Make renku
ride the Energy.
Get the timing wrong,
you ruin the rhythm."


"The physical form
first of all must be graceful
then a musical quality
makes a superior verse."

"As the years passed
by to half a century.
asleep I hovered
among morning clouds
and evening dusk,
awake I was astonished
at the voices of mountain
streams and wild birds."


“These flies sure enjoy
having an unexpected
sick person.”



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


On Life's journey
plowing a small field
going and returning


Child of poverty
hulling rice, pauses to
look at the moon


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

With her needle
in autumn she manages
to make ends meet
Daughter playing koto
reaches age seven


After the years
of grieving. . . finally
past eighteen
Day and night dreams of
Father in that battle


Now to this brothel
my body has been sold
Can I trust you
with a letter I wrote,
mirror polisher?


Only my face
by rice-seedling mud
is not soiled
Breastfeeding on my lap
what dreams do you see?



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com