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


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

Quotations from Basho Prose


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



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


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


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



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


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


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


"Link verses the way
children play."


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


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

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


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



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


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


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


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

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


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


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


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



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com

 



Home  >  Topics  >  Basho Renku, 芭蕉連句  >  K-02


Basho Renku Section 2

Renku From 1678 to 1681 - With Commentaries and 日本語の原文

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

"It would be good for you to see from practice that your following stanza suits the previous one as an expression of the same heart’s connection."

 

ある付句に前句を添えて、同じ付心が表現 できるような訓練などをしてみるのもよい.

 

Aru tsukeku ni maeku o soete, onaji tsuke-kokoro ga
hyōgen dekiru yō na kunren nado o shite miru no yoi.

 

I hope you will remember these words of Basho throughout this section, and consider how the various stanzas succeed or fail in doing so.  In 1678 to 1681 Basho is still young and developing his mastery of renku, and some of his following stanzas confuse, rather than express, the heart's connection. In particular, two of the final verses, 2: 243 and 2: 261, truly illustrate the above words. 


The next three stanza-pairs are from a sequence of 100 stanzas composed by two poets, Basho and Sampu, the young heir to his wealthy family's business. 

 

 

To embroider
she prefers the threads
of a cascade
Otowa Falls in the wind               2: 26
to a pine goes the princess

 

縫いはくに / 好むでとうる / 滝の糸
音羽嵐の / 松も姫君


Nuihaku ni / konomu de touru / taki no ito
Otowa arashi no / matsu mo himegimi

 

Sewing threads resembling flowing water comes from Ki no Tsurayuki’s tanka:

 

Into the flowing
pattern of ripples
green willow
reflections as threads
 seem to be woven

 

Otowa Falls, at the world-famous Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto, divides into three flows, so they can, in thought, be woven into yarn. In Basho’s time embroidery shop has signs with a pine tree mark – so the woman in Sampu’s stanza is now a princess shopping for embroidery materials.

 

                   ------------------------------------------

 

Although Sampu, age 31 in 1678,  is younger than 34 year old Basho and his student, he is far superior socially and financially.

 

Superior One                                      2: 39
forget not the hard times
use them well
Fancy hairstyle tied up
with ornamental comb
Getting married –                              2: 39
second time without trouble
she had before

 

上方の /かたぎ 忘れぬ / 使だて

 

はねもと結びに / かざす さし櫛
縁付や /二度返る (??) / 事なかれ

 


Kami-gata no / katagi wasurenu / tsukawadate
Hanemoto musubi ni / kazasu sashi kutsu
Enzuku ya / nido kaeru ( ?? ) / koto nakare

 

These three stanzas seem to be a conversation between Basho and Sampu, however the subjects of verbs are not given, and so it is unclear who is doing what to whom.  In Basho's first stanza, there is no indication that kamigata,  literally "ones higher up," means Sampu or Sampu's family, but I take it that way.  Basho seems to be telling his friend to recall the difficulties he, or his family, has experienced,  and use them as lessons in maintaining his selfhood.   Sampu replies with an image of a woman's hairstyle, hanemoto musubi, in which the hair is piled up on top and tied with a ornamental comb; this would be suitable for a woman getting married.  What this means can only be guessed.  Is Sampu recalling a woman in his life with this hairstyle? or imagining his daughter in the future when she marries?  or some other possibility?  How does this connect with the "hard times" in Basho's stanza?

 

Basho continues the mystery.  Who is, or was,or will be getting married? What happened to the first marriage is unknown.   Two sound-units are missing from the second segment, so interpretation of "returning" is especially difficult.  The final segment, koto nakarewhich I have translated "avoid trouble,"   is the whole complex of behaviors by which the Japanese prevent and suppress anything unusual happening, to keep their world the same today and tomorrow as it was yesterday.   

 

                        ------------------------------------------

 

From the brothel                             2: 47                    
moon among the clouds
returns home
The form of a virgin
her white satin obi

 

揚屋より /月は雲居に / かえらるる
乙女の姿 / しろじゆすの帯


Ageya yori / tsuki wa kumoi ni / kaeraruru
Otome no sugata / shiro jusu no obi

 

The Moon leave the courtesan’s house in the morning and enters the clouds of the world. Sampu changes the moon to white clouds as the sash wrapped around the waist of a virgin in a kimono.

 

                   --------------------------------------------

 

 

Lovers speak
hesitantly as firefly
crawls out robe   
Along with the Buddha                     2: 58
short night in a dream       

むつ言 の きがね の 蛍の / はい出て
釈迦に そいねの / 夢 の 短夜


Mutsugon no / kigane no hotaru no / hai idete
Shaka ni soinu no / yume no mijikayo

 

Words of the shy lovers emerge from their hearts like a firefly crawling out the gap where the left side of kimono folds over right.  I confess to my lack of understanding Basho's link.  Maybe you will help me figure it out. 

 

 

Droplets from
the spear of Bishamon
autumn in our land
The heads of heathen                 2: 63 
descend with the moon       


毘沙門の / 鉾のしたたり / 国 の 秋
外道の 首 の / 落かかる 月


Bishamon no / hoko no shitatari / kuni no aki
Gedou no kubi no / ochikakaru tsuki

 

Bishamon, one of the Seven Lucky Deities, god of fortune in war, patron of warriors, wears armor and a helmet, and holds a spear to fight against evil spirits. The poet seems to have blended Bishamon with the husband-and-wife gods Izanagi and Izanami who created the Japanese islands by stirring the void with the point of a jeweled spear; as they lifted the spear, a drop fell from it, creating Awaji, the first island of Japan. The droplets from Bishamon’s spear turn into the tinted leaves and colorful fruits of  “autumn in our land.”

 

Basho follows with a stanza sure to produce controversy. From 1597 to 1639, the Japanese beheaded hundreds of Christians for their faith. The BRZ explains that gedou means “demons who disturb or hinder Buddhism; heretics; it is the role of Bishamon to exterminate them.” Moonset represents mourning for the dead, however without condemning the killers.

 

                            ------------------------------------

 

Blossoms return
as naked seeds 
to their roots
Bath water bottom                   2: 71 
dragon palace spring      
Roadhouse hooker
or Sea-God’s daughter,
which is she?
Age of the Gods unheard
love for a hundred coins
Bowing with respect                                            2: 72
to that precious treasure,
the Pillow Book              

 

 

花は 根に / もとの 裸で / かえる也
風 呂の 底は / 龍宮 の 春
出女の / 玉依り姫 は / 是 と かや
神代 もきかず / 百文 の 恋
霊宝の / 枕 草紙を / ふし 拝み


Hana wa ne ni / moto no hadaka de / kaeru nari
Mizu furo no soko wa / ryuujin no haru
De-onna no / tamayori hime wa / kore to ka ya
Kamiyo mo kikazu / hyakumon no koi
Reihō no / makura sōshi o / fushi ogami

 

Seeds from fallen blossoms enter the ground to join their roots -- as my naked body enters the hot tub. Because water refracts light away from a straight line, and water movement distorts the vision of things, my body and the water around appear magical. In the legends of the Sea God’s Dragon Palace, it is time, rather than space, which magically changes; one day equals a century, and the four seasons occurs simultaneously in the four corners of the palace.

 

The Sea-God has a daughter steeped in the magic of her father’s realm. What about the servant girls who cook food at roadside rest houses and also provide sex to travelers? Are they immoral whores? Or are they – all girls carrying the future - daughters of the divine? Because men listen not to the Gods, they purchase “love” from hookers. A hundred coins was about 2000 yen or 20 dollars today; a paltry fee to pay for a quickie at a roadside rest area. Basho would rather read the words of a woman divinely inspired, Sei Shonagon in her Pillow Book. He says this book is better than sex.

 

Her long sleeves's                 2: 75
fine silk, yet a beard
is being born
The fate of Komachi
to female-impersonate

 

 

ふり袖の / 薄地も髭と / 生出でて
小町が果の / 女方ども

 

Furisode no / usuji mo hige to / oi-idete
Komachi ga hate no / onna-gata domo

 

Furisode, or “long hanging sleeves,” is a most formal style of kimono worn by young unmarried women in Japan: the sleeves are a meter long, and hang freely from the arms held out straight. Made of fine brightly colored silk, this type of kimono is extremely expensive. Basho shows us a young beauty in a furisode, but looking closely, we see the beginnings of a beard. He is a young boy favored by a wealthy pederast who likes his boy to appear as a girl -- but no matter how much the man spends, he cannot keep the hormones from growing hair on "her" chin. Basho's attention is attracted to any difference between appearance and reality; he is also drawn to the aspect of 'giving birth' emphasized in the final words of his stanza: 生出でて、the Chinese characters for "birth" followed by "emerging."

 

The next poet extends that contrast of appearance and reality: he says that when the 9th century poetess Ono no Komachi, considered the most beautiful woman Japan ever produced, grew old, as she was destined to do, as she did in various Noh plays (where she was played by a man, since women were not allowed to perform), she no longer was female, but instead pretending to be female. The word onna-gata is ordinarily used for female-impersonators in theater, but here the meaning shifts back and forth between stage and reality. In both stanzas, the young female is the ideal, and there is impersonation of that ideal, first by a young boy, then by an old woman.

 

                      ----------------------------------

 

Storehouses and fences
overgrown with water weeds
Seen by morning,
woman who stayed the night,
Goddess of Poverty                                    2: 84

 

蔵も籬も / 水草生けり
今朝みれば / いてこし女は /貧乏神


Kura mo magaki mo / mikusa ikekeri
Kesa mireba / itekoshi onna wa / bimbō-gami

 

After a tsunami and/or rainy typhoon, with no money to pay for repairs, man-made structures gradually disappear in the watery abundance. From this sketch of poverty, Basho makes another bizarre link – to a woman waking up after a one-night stand; before she combs her hair, washs her face, or puts on make-up, she is as ragged and unkempt as “storehouses and fences overgrown with water weeds (That’s bad. Very bad). The Japanese have no female form of this deity who brings misfortune, but since she is a women, I have dubbed her “Goddess of Poverty.”

 

                          ------------------------------------

 

To join with a widow,
he pounds the robe of love
Man who left
cared only for money,
autumn passes                                    2: 91

 

後家を相手に /恋衣うつ
去男 / かねにほれたる / 秋更けて


Goke o aite ni / koi koromo utsu
Saru otoko / kane ni horetaru / aki fukete

 

Pounding cloth with a mallet is woman’s work – so here means the man’s constant repetitive effort to gain her trust and access to the wealth she inherited from her husband. He seems to have enjoyed the summer and autumn with her, but has other plans for winter.

 

                    -----------------------------------------

 

Old haori jacket
makes the young look old
Soundly, so soundly
the babe in remembrance
is put to sleep                                            2: 101

 

古い羽織に老ぞしらるる
つくづくと記念のややを寝させ置


Furui haori ni / oi zo shiraruru
Tsukuzuku to / katami no yaya o / nesase oki

 

Padded haori jackets are worn by men. A woman whose husband has died places his jacket on the sleeping baby for warmth; as she looks at her baby, memories of him flood her. The two kinds of sleep – nightly and eternal – blend in our minds. As she puts the baby to sleep, she wonders whether baby will in dream visit father in the other world and maybe not return.

 

Etsujin’s image by itself has profound emotional potential;

Basho fulfills that potential with more attention to the life-force in babies.

 

              ----------------------------------------------

 

“Weak as green willow”                2: 139 
the wife is despised                      
‘Path of blood’
her day by day misery
in the spring rain 
She drops a tea bag                      2:139 
in steam from her chest         

 

青柳よわき / 女房あなづる
血の道気 / うらみ 幾日の / 春の雨
胸のけぶりに /さがす茶袋


Aoyagi yowaki / nyōbo anazuru
Chi no michi ki / urami ikka no / haru no ame
Mune no keburi ni / sagasu cha-bukuro

 

Willow branches are pliant and flexible, submissive to every breeze, so we may think them weak. Women too are flexible, and in a patriarchal society expected to submit to every male desire. Men admire strength and rigidity, despising the flexibility of willows or women, as they despise the ‘path of blood’ from women’s reproductive organs as well as the sickness that comes with bleeding. During her period the continuous spring rains make this woman feel weaker and more shameful – but some herbal tea boiled in the steam from her flaming heart, will provide some relief.

 

                                  -------------------------------

 

In a famous tanka by the Heian poet Ki no Tsurayuki, “young pines” evoke the memories of a child

who died away from home.

 

How many moons                                      2: 149a
shall young pines be hidden
in your belly                                              
Asking the servant girl
beside the cliff, no reply
Spring water flows                                    2: 149b
on the shore,will you stand
against the current?              

 

幾月の / 小松がはらや / 隠すらん
とえど岩根の / 下女はこたえず
磯清水 / 汝ながれを/ たてぬかと


Iku gatsu no / komatsu ga hara ya / kakusuran
Toedo iwane no / gejo wa kotaezu
Iso shimizu / nanji nagare o / tatenu ka to

 

Basho asks a question of a woman who drank herbs to induce abortion. How long will the spirit of the child never born remain within you? Issun sends Basho’s question to a servant girl, adding a bit of yet deepening the secrecy. Basho then asks her another personal and intimate question: “Will you yield to the hormones urging you to produce more life?

 

                 --------------------------------------------

 

Since Ki no Tsurayuki
the moon at daybreak
Eight hundred years
the light of his lantern has
survived the dew                     2: 169

 

貫之以上の在明のつき
八百年御澄の光露更けて


Tsurayuki ijō no / ariake no tsuki
Happyakunen / gochō no hikari / tsuyu fukete

 

Tsurayuki was active in the early part of the 10th century; Basho in the latter part of the 17th.

 

                              ------------------------------------

 

Once more he is thrown
Maruyama marked black
Half of go board
all over eastern Kyoto
blossoms scatter                   2: 176

 

 

又なげられし / 丸山の色
片碁盤 /都の東 /はなちりて


Mata nagerareshi / maruyama no iro
Kata goban / miyako no higashi / hana chirite

 

Maruyama was a famous sumo wrestler in Basho’s time. A victory in sumo is recorded with a white circle, a loss with black. Basho jumps from sumo to the board game of go, from Maruyama the wrestler to Maruyama a section of eastern Kyoto famous for cherry blossoms. The one playing black is totally overwhelmed: white stones are everywhere on one side of the board, as if all the blossoms in the eastern half of Kyoto have fallen.

 

           ----------------------------------------------------------

 

The warriors’
sword exhibition
gets violent
Woman soon cry out
so they are banished
Appearance
warped by a mirror,
her resentment                         2: 200

 

 

武士の / 刃祭りを / 荒にける
女はなくに /早きとていむ
様あしく / 鏡の ひづみ /たる恨み


Mononofu no / yabai matsuri o / ara ni keru
Onna wa naku ni / hayaki tote imu
Sama ashiku / kagami no hizumi / taru urami

 

At a Shinto festival, warriors exhibit their skills while dedicating them to the gods. Men in the audience get a thrill from long sharp swords waved about, but women get upset. Men cannot stand it when women make a fuss, distracting from the solemnity and also disturbing the entertainment, so they forbid them from attending. Basho portrays in a woman shocked to see her beauty marred by a warp in the mirror. The temporary loss of the beauty she has carefully cultivated brings her anguish.

 

              ---------------------------------------

 

Miracles from
offerings to the Goddess
shining on blossoms              2:210
Bird of good fortune
builds nest with hemp

 

花に照る / 太神宮の / 寄特也
幣に巣作る / 詫の鳥


Hana ni teru / oharaibako no / kitoku nari
Nusa ni su tsukuru / kototsuge no tori

 

Basho sees the Sun Goddess Amaterasu in sunlight shining on cherry blossoms. The Ise Shrine, dedicated to the Sun Goddess, produces a type of offering called taima made from hemp paper for houses who have been supportive of the shrine. People wave one before their household shrines to purify the space so their prayer reaches the Goddess. The bird steals the paper from the offerings; hemp fiber is strong, so makes a good nest for the bird of good fortune. We go from blossoms to bird, from hemp offered to the gods to hemp stolen by birds, from Sun Goddess to female nesting bird, from miracles to good fortune.

 

            -------------------------------------

 

On stage from humble
cottage, a forlorn cry
Without virtue
loud squeal of surprise
at the scene
A dog being stabbed
that voice is so sad                                  2: 213

 

舞台に柴の / 庵しぼり声
とひやう仁 /うは気より世を / 驚て
犬切って其 / 声のかなしく


Butai ni shiba no / io shibori koe
Toiyō ni / uwaki yori yo o / odoroite
Inu kitte kono / koe no kanashiku

 

Each of the three stanzas highlights a voice responding to the transitory nature of existence. First, the dejected cry of someone in a stage play whose happiness has vanished. Next, the moron in the audience who reacts noisily. Finally Basho gets REAL with the actual cry of a life being snuffed out.

 

                     ----------------------------------------------------

 

Where is the storm?
curtain room shivers
The woman’s shadow                            2: 214
seems to have returned –
awesome her traces

 

あらしはいづく /帳の紙室

女の影 / 帰ると見えて /跡すごく

Arashi wa izuku / chou no kamimuro

Onna no kage / kaeru to miete / ato sugoku

 

Although there is no wind or rain, the low pressure zone around a storm sends a shiver through the curtains hung around a space to keep it a bit warmer in the winter. Basho makes this quiver in the fabric the spirit or ghost of a woman who came here and has now returned to the land of the dead, leaving awesome “traces” of her being.

 

              -----------------------------------------------------------

 

The Mouse and the Ox
entrusted to the Tiger
Chaos rides                                          2: 217
on Green to play with
the Energy

 

子丑の番を / 寅に預けて
渾沌が / 翠にのって / 気にあそぶ


Ne ushi no ban o / tora ni azukete
Konton ga / midori ni notte / ki ni asobu

 

The Hour of the Mouse is from 11:00 pm to 1:00 a.m., the Ox from 1:00 a.m. to 3:00, and the Tiger 3:00 to 5:00. Each animal is entrusted to the next one. So time passes, each hour absorbing the one before. From Kikaku’s trip through time, Basho flies off into the primal origins of life as conceived by Chuang Tzu:

 

Within chaos -- a featureless, indistinguishable state –
from the mixture of disorder came Energy.
Energy changed into Form, and Form into Life,
and finally Life returns to Death.

 

Basho plays with the first two steps in Chuang- Tzu’s vision of creation - Chaos and Energy– and adds a new element: “Green,” the primal invigorating force of plant life which Chaos rides on while playing with Energy. “Green” may be chlorophyll, so Basho’s stanza becomes a metaphor for photosynthesis all over the Earth.

 

Basho said,

Link veres the way children play.
When we look, really look at Chuang-Tzu
renku should be like Chuang-Tzu

 

俳諧を子どもの遊ぶことせよ
俳諧をせば荘子をよくよくみて、
荘子のごとくあるべし

 

Haikai o kodomo no asobu koto se yo…
Haikai o seba Sōshi o yoku yoku mite,
Sōshi no gotoku arubeshi

 

Children in play leap across boundaries of space and time to change reality however they please – as Chuang Tzu does in shifting between reality and dream, as the renku poet shifts  from one realm to another. “Give up your single sold reality; enter another reality, another identity, another location or time, just like that.”

 

                 -----------------------------------------

 

Wretched in the dew             2: 221

my wife’s fallen hair

Speaking of love,

in the mirror her face
still I can see

 

露にしがるむ / 妹が落髪
物いふて / 鏡に顏の / 残りみえよ


Tsuyu ni shigaramu / imo ga ochi-gami
Mono iute / kagami ni kao no / nokori mieyo

 

Fallen hair” means the wife has died – for a woman’s hair contains her life force. “Dew” is the forces of wetness that rust, corrode, and wear out all things. She looked in the mirror so often it retains a copy of her face – or maybe the husband and wife were so in tune with each other that their faces came to resemble each other. In both Japanese and English, the feeling accumulates to the final active verb "see."

 

                             --------------------------------------------

 

Engulfed by passion
to kill younger brother
Sound  deepens,                                2: 243 
the door of pine wood 
he pries open

 

恋あふれたる / 弟手打ちに
音更けて / 槇の板戸を /こぢ放す

 

Ai afuretaru / ototo teuchi ni 
oto fukete / maki no itado o / koji-hanasu

 

The first poet with only a half dozen words creates a scene of extreme emotion and terrifying possibilities; apparently the younger brother slept with the older brother’s wife, and things got worse from there.  Such a scene is rare in renku, and presents quite a challenge to Basho.  How can he follow such passion and murderous intention?  How can his stanza “suit the previous one” with the same “heart’s connection”? 

 

Basho follows by going inside, into the sound and physical activity of the older brother prying open the door his brother has barricaded. He uses ordinary physical words – “sound” and “pine wood door” and “pry open” without elaborate construction – to make us hear the screeching sound, and to feel the older brother’s exertion driven by passion and testosterone.

 

           ------------------------------------------------------


in a daydream
boiling rice until
evening comes
No concern for others
just waiting to die                        2: 253 
  
昼夢の飯たくほどにゆうぐるる
人死をまって生にたわいなし


Hiru yume no / meshi take hodo ni / yuu gururu
Jinshi o matte / shō ni tawainashi

 

This person experienced boiling the rice, but only in a dream, so it provides no nourishment. “No concern for life” could be no concern even for one’s own life, so merely living life away in a daydream however renku scholar Shimasue Kiyoshi says it means “no concern for others, devoid of altruism” – and with this meaning, Basho is saying that living without concern for others is merely boiling rice in a daydream; not really living, but living in unreality, merely waiting to die.

 

Are these pines
on Love Cape, daughter’s
wedding ornament      2: 259 
Her vows everlasting
divinely shining snow

 

恋崎の/ 松か娘の / 花の臺
契世にのこる / 雪の明神


Koi-zaka no / matsu ga musume no / hana no dai
Chigiri yo ni nokoru / yuki no meigami

 

It is interesting to see how these men of three centuries ago thought and wrote about women, marriage, vows, and the divine. It is also interesting how nature imagery – pines and snow – occurs within to ground their thoughts about human customs, experience, and spirituality.

 

 

                         From Basho Letter #1, June 20, 1681

                           芭蕉の手紙#1、六月20日、1681

 

When a following stanza completely fits the previous stanza,
we can say this is the old style or the somewhat old style


一句、前句に全体はまる事、古風、中興共可申哉。
Ikku, maeku ni zentei hamaru koto,furyuu, chuuko tomo mousu beku ya

 

Rather than perfectly fitting, there should be some space between the two stanzas for the reader to fill in with imagination.


Without a sense for ordinary words as precious,
you will get mixed up in an old style.

 

俗語の遣やう風流なくて、又古風にまぎれ候事
Zokugo no tsukai you fuuryu nakute,
mata koryu ni magire sōrō koto

 

Basho, almost always, uses ordinary words and ordinary grammar,

but he uses them in such a way that they are “precious”

 

A stanza elaborately constructed is useless.

 

一句細工に仕立て候事、不用そうろう事
Ikku saiku ni shitate sōrō koto, fuyō ni sōrō koto

 

To Basho, an “elaborately constructed verse” is literary and old, so ordinary people do not care for it.

 

A stanza may have extra sound-units, three, four, or even five or seven;    if the rhythm of the phrase coming out your mouth is natural, it is okay – however if even one sound stagnates in your mouth,                                you must scrutinize the expression.

 

文字あまり、三四字、五七字あまり候而も、句のひびき能候へばよろしく、
一字にても口にとまり候 御吟味何有事。

 

Moji amari, san yon ji, go nana ji amari sōrō shikashite mo,
ku no hibiki yoku sōrōeba yoroshiku,
Ichiji nite mo kuchi ni tamari, sōrō go ginmi arubeku koto

 

Basho says that we must speak our verses (and translations) out loud to see if they sound natural coming from the mouth, to insure that the phrases have “resonance” (hibiki) and do not “stagnate” - like water in a stream stuck behind a wad of fallen leaves, old, foul, and heavy - but rather flow with natural rhythm that resonates in the listener’s ear.

 

 

The aged nun has
a story to tell us 
Filled with pity,
telling to bring inside
abandoned child                                2: 261
A deer pulls the sleeve 
of someone in the village

 

老尼はなしの / 叙ありけり
哀余る / 捨て子ひろひに /遣して

外里に 鹿の 裾引き手いる

 

Rōni hanashi no / tsuide arikeri
Ai amaru / sutego hirohi ni / tsuawashite
to-sato ni shika no / suso hikite iru

 

The first poet provides an open space with boundaries – the aged nun and her enthusiasm in telling the story – with no story content. Basho fulfils 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 directly 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 transfers 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.

 

 

The following stanza suits the previous one
as an expression of the same heart’s connection.

 

付句に前句を添えて、同じ付心が表現できる

… tsukeku ni maeku o soete, onaji tsuke-kokoro ga hyōgen dekiru …

 

 

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


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

Quotations from Basho Prose


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



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


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


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



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


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


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


"Link verses the way
children play."


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


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

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


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



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


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


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


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

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


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


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


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



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com