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  >  The Human Story:  >  A-20


Hiding from Sight

10 Basho renku about shame and embarrassment

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

Charles Darwin described the effects of shame as "blushing, confusion of mind, downward cast eyes,

slack posture, and lowered head" in human populations worldwide.  Basho also studied shame. The word "shame"  derives  from an older word meaning "to cover"; for covering oneself, literally or figuratively, is a natural expression of shame. 

 

Originally I called this article "Shame" or "A culture of shame" but for "shame" Wikipedia describes the feeling that occurs after doing disgraceful things or being somehow wrong:  “any situation of embarrassment, dishonor, disgrace, inadequacy, humiliation" -   Basho, however shows us another sort of shame: that of having a sexual body and attractions, the shame of growing up human.  Without doing any thing bad, without any inferiority or abnormality, people, especially the young, feel shame, or maybe it would be better to call it "embarrassment" or "shyness" or "modesty."  Japan is said to be a "society of shame" (rather than guilt), and Japanese feel shame for things no American even notices, but maybe if we say "discomfort" instead of "shame," maybe Americans will better understand. Since I could not decide what to call the article, I decided to use the action taken in shame or discomfort:  "hiding from sight" for "hide" or "hidden" appears so frequently in Basho poetry:   

 

Turning aside
from lantern, faces hide
from each other

 

In this single Basho stanza, we feel the shame or embarrassment or shyness or simply discomfort occuring

when the body begins to show sexual traits and and feel sexual desires which we both want and do not want other people, especially of the other gender, to know about.  The hiding gets so complicated: each face turns away from the illumination, and simultaneously turns away from the other person, so neither one gets a clear picture of the other.

 

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


The boss pretends
not to see their love
yet he knows
Figures half hidden
beneath the umbrella

 

Walking together in town, the lovers are surprised to see, and be seen by, “the boss”. He is cool and does not say a word, but her heart shrinks with haji -- shyness, bashfulness, embarrassment. She wonders what he is thinking: does he imagine her naked and doing IT, does he condemn her for having sex without marriage? She clutches the handle to make the umbrella cover as much as possible without any movements that might attract the boss’s attention. 

 

The first stanza is the “interesting” one, and Basho’s a cliché seen in many films. (The first kiss in Japanese film occurred in a 1946 movie A Certain Night’s Kiss, behind an open umbrella, causing great controversy.) That cliché in FIGURES HALF HIDDEN perfectly complements and completes the human story in THE BOSS PRETENDS. Miyawaki Masahiko, in Basho’s Verses of Human Feeling, says,


“Probably no other following stanza so well expresses the sense of shame

felt when one’s love becomes known to others.”

 

Miyawaki’s comment carries this stanza-pair deep into the many diverse realms of anthropology. Japan is said to be a “shame culture” rather than the “guilt cultures” of the Judeo-Christian world. Miyawaki is

Japanese and writes about Japanese people, in particular Japanese women, but what about us, people in all sorts of different cultures, with different perceptual realities of love, young or old, married or unmarried, do we, or did we long ago, feel “shame” (or embarrassment or whatever we call it) when together with a sexual partner we are seen by an authority figure who gets the picture.

 

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

 

 Moles occur when cells that give skin its natural color grow in a cluster instead of spread out over the skin. A child may been born with a mole, or one may occur during the teen years.

 

Youngest daughter hates
the mole on her face
Robe for dancing
aimlessly she folds it
inside the box
 

The mole does not interfere with her intelligence or motor ability, but everyone who meets her sees it, and consciousness of this saps her self-confidence. Grown up together with her sisters who have no moles, she hates the unfairness of this, but there is nothing she can do about it. 

 

Someone who cares for the daughter’s happiness has given her a gorgeous robe for dancing in the local shrine festival, but she is too ashamed of her mole to show it to the whole town. I am amazed by the flow of emotional energy from "hates" to the superb "aimlessly" which I believe perfectly expresses the feeling of many non-dominant females in the world today.  I hope women and girls worldwide will tell how right, or how wrong, I am about this. 

 

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

 

 

By moonlight
my poor mother at work
beside the window --
She would hide fingers
stained with indigo

 

Iugen sees mother, long ago and far away, doing the night work of women throughout the ages, after her family has gone to sleep, sewing or mending their clothing in that light from above through the open window. From this iconic maternal image, Basho zooms in on her fingers stained from years of soaking cloth in indigo dye; the blue tint draws the eyes in our minds to her fingers. She feels the need to cover them with fabric to hide that strange inhuman color in the moonlight. The blue tint draws the eyes in our minds to her fingers – where we see the ‘traces’ of all the work she has done with those fingers. Because the Japanese for "love" is pronounced the same as "indigo" these are  “fingers stained with love.”

 

Renku scholar Miyawaki Masahiko says,

 

In the behavior of mother hiding her fingers, the child separated far from her realizes her personality. The moonlight conveys the feelings in the child’s heart along with memories of mother working in desperation to raise us in spite of poverty.

 

The link – the thoughts that take us – from Iugen’s stanza to Basho’s reveals the vast range of Basho’s genius. Only Basho could create a link such as this, so personal and bodily yet so full of female heart.

Each time Basho uses the word "hide" or "hidden,"  he strives to reveal a feeling which may be called "shame" or "embarrassment" or "discomfort" for this is a feeling which pervades his society. 

 

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

 

Speaking to
her face hidden by
folding fan
That sleep-tousled hair
a difficult boat ride 

 

Basho has the woman hide her face from the one who speaks to her.  The second poet puts Basho’s shy woman on a boat one morning  after a night of sleeping, or trying to sleep, while seasick.  She is on her way to the place on the boat where she can wash her face and fix her appearance so people can see her without making her uncomfortable, but she has not done so yet.  

 

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


Pulled awake
to see the Full Moon
in her shame
Hair fanned by maids,
her thin robe of dew

 

Pulled up from bed by someone enthusiastic to show her the Moon, the girl is embarrassed to be seen in her nightgown straight from sleep without any preparation of face, hair, and clothing; she really does not want anyone to see her emerging sexuality in the moonlight. 

 

Basho says this flustered and ashamed girl grows up into a mature self-assured lady. The thick black hair holds much heat, so her maids wave folding fans at it to push the coolness into the mass of strands. The image of servants fanning her hair (like Cleopatra’s servants fanning her with palm branches) suggests the nobility of this lady. “Dew” suggests the moistness of sexual functions. A “robe of dew” would be transparent, revealing her entire body as naked as the moon, yet not at all ashamed.

 

The stanza pair shows us two stages in a woman’s sexual development: first embarrassed, then composed.

 

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

 

“Weak as green willow”
the wife is despised --
Path of blood
her day-by-day misery
in  the spring rain                                                  

 

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, and also the sickness that comes with bleeding. During her period the continuous spring rains make this woman feel weaker, more shameful, and more prone to hide from the world.  

 

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

 

Basho begins this quartet with a young woman who had a “secret man,” i.e. a married lover, but that relationship has ended, leaving her in shame; in a patriarchal society, the shame of an illicit relationship bears entirely on the woman.  Watch how two followers continue, and Basho concludes: 

 

A secret love, for shame!
your life so wretched!
As morning glory
vines twist and turn,  she
 is shaken awake --
Forlorn she cuts her hair,
their lies spread like kudzu
Clinging to mama
she turns her back on
the Moon’s orb
 

Morning glories grow on vines that twine sensuously, climbing over a fence or wall.  She is shaken awake, her body twisted and turned, not by a person, but by a dream sent telepathically by her lover’s wife – as in the Tale of Genji, when the young prince is sleeping with Evening Glory, his jealous other woman sends a dream to awaken him -- while it kills her.  Full of shame, she cuts off her hair as if to cut off herself. The Asian weed kudzu has invaded and spread over much of the southern U. S. – like the lies they told to hide their affair. Basho takes her to the arms of her mother who quiets her down, helping her accept her shame and go on with her life.   The daughter turns her back on the Moon which represents female sexuality –what got her into this mess in the first place.  

 

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


Summoned to the palace
ashamed by the gossip
Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow

 

Sora takes us to the beginning of the Tale of Genji, where a beautiful young woman, Kiritsubo, is 

summoned to the Imperial Palace to sleep with the Emperor's courtesan, and she becomes his favorite. 

This pisses off his oldest consort who joins with other court ladies in shaming Kiritsubo; as she walks through the halls of the palace, she hears them lurking in corners, whispering about her. Eventually she sickens and dies. 

 

Basho, however, aims for life, not death. In spite of the gossip about her and the shame it brings her, the woman in EASING IN manages to love the Emperor with all the gentleness in her heart. Basho’s stanza coming from Sora’s empowers women to overcome bullying and shame by concentrating on their feminine power both delicate and sensual.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com






<< Poems of death (A-19) (B-01) Basho’s Appreciation for Women >>


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