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-01


Basho Renku Section 1

Renku from 1665 to 1678 with Commentaries and 日本語の原文

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

Ten sections contains 380 Basho stanzas along with stanzas by other poets that compliment his visions of humanity; given chronologically so we travel with Basho through 30 years of his adult life. 

 

日本語 and Romanization enable students of Japanese to learn from Basho

The BRZ # - volume #: page number# - for each Basho item is given to the right of first line of the verse.

 

All stanzas selected for their expression of humanity.

 

 

Papier-mache bald, but
she will not throw away -
Today as is,
wishing to care for it
till Doll’s Festival
Till twilight crescent                          1: 5
shall ladle peach wine    
Calm peaceful
magical thinking cannot
be surpassed

 

兀田 頼子 も / 捨てぬ わらは べ
けふあると /もてはやし けり / 雛 迄

月 の 暮れ まで / 汲む もも の 酒

長閑なる/仙の遊にし/くはあらじ

 

Hageta hariko mo / sutenu warawa be
Kyō aru to / motehayashi keri / hiina made
Tsuki no kure made /kumu momo no sake 
Nodoka naru /sen no yuu ni shi / kuwa araji

 

The doll has lost its hair and paint, but the loving child does not mind how it looks. We feel her willpower, her drive to do something for the little one. She accepts that the doll must go, however persuades the person in charge to let her care for it until Doll Festival on the 3rd day of the 3rd Moon (early April by the Western calendar), obviously the highlight of the year for a doll.

 

Basho switches from a doll preserved until Doll’s Festival to peach wine preserved so Basho and friends can drink it on this festive occasion. The moon on Doll’s Festival is a slender crescent that rises during the day, becomes visible in the twilight sky, then sets early in the night - shaped like a ladle, perfect for drawing wine from a celestial bucket and serving to us. Thus Basho’s first recorded renku stanza contains the joys of friendship and connection to the group enhanced by sweet wine and lunar fantasy.

 

À world where the ladle of moon serves us sweet wine would be a world of “magical thinking,” a world in which when we want something we magically call it forth – as a child gives her dolls thoughts and feelings, and even has one doll interact with another – manipulating the Force - like Yoda lifting the space shuttle from the swamp - so it cannot be surpassed.


Confusion 
between path of truth
and path of love
Unable to proceed             1: 9
dark night of futility 

        

まどはれな / 実 の 道 や / 恋 の 道
ならで通えば / 無性 闇 夜

 

Madoware na / makota no michi ya / koi no michi
Narade tōeba / mushō yami no yo

 

The first stanza is a question: whether to follow the path of Truth – i.e. devote one life to the Buddha – or the path of love – however confusion occurs between the two paths. Mushou can be “without sexuality” or “without the temperament to attain enlightenment” or “without the ability to reason”; I translate “futility” to convey Basho’s feeling of lacking a connection to wholeness.

 

 

Disconnected, the cat                            1: 13
outside, how she cries      
Charcoal fire
gone out, twas cold
in retirement

 

なつかでで猫の/外面にぞ啼く
埋火も/ きえて寒けさ/隠居所に

 

Natsukade neko no / tono mo ni zo naku
uzumi bi mo / kiete samukesa / inkyosho ni

 

The fire is banked – burning coals covered by ashes – to remain alive till morning when it can be awakened. The cat depended on her connection to the slight warmth given off by the banked fire to be comfortable all night long. But the fire was not banked properly, and went out. Inside became as cold as outside, so out she came and here she is, crying.

 

While this stanza-pair is not about people, it does portray the connection of domesticated cats to the human family and the warmth humans provide.

 

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

 

Moon at dawn                                        1: 15
only my shadow figure
for a friend                      
Still deep in the night
a lonesome traveler

 

在明 の / 影 法師 のみ / 友と して
未だ 夜 深き に/ ひとり たびびと


Ariake no / kagebōshi nomi / tomo o shite
Mada yoru fukaki ni / hitori tabibito

 

The moon at dawn, only a pale whiteness in the sky, casts no shadow at all, so this traveller in the first light of day has no friend. Basho has given the “shadow figure” an identity. At night the entire world is shadow, while no humans are on the road, so the shadow travels alone without connection to a group.

 

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

 

So it will not melt                                1: 17
this ice we dedicate           
New Year’s dawn
the morning sun a faint
glimmering

 

解けぬやうにと/氷りささぐる
あけて今朝 /あさ日ほのぼの /ほのめきて

 

Tokenu you ni to /kouri sasaguru
Akete kesa /asahi honobono / honomekite

 

In a Shinto ritual, the ice of winter is preserved in an ice house until midsummer, and that spirit of perseverance offered to the kamisama. The Japanese constantly exhort each other, gambatte, “persevere, hold on, maintain your strength!” Issho switches from mid-summer heat to freezing cold New Year’s Day; just before the first bit of Sun appears, a glimmer on the horizon announces the coming event. Can we expand our minds to see Sun rising from horizon as one with ice melting.

 

The stanza-pair is a poetic representation of the yin-yang symbol. Yin is dark and cold; Yang light and hot. The bit of ice in the midsummer heat is the dark spot in the white field; the sun rising in midwinter is the bright spot in the dark field. The two fields with their opposing spots together form the cycle of the year, of reality, of consciousness of connection.

 

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

 

 

“Like the Goddess
of Spring” our princess
is neat and tidy
Green willow her hips
and hair like willows
Weary of waiting                                        1: 18
wind through the pines
also is longing                 

      

佐保 姫 と/ 言ん 姫 御 の /身 だしなみ
青 柳 腰 / ゆふ 柳 髪
待ち あぐみ / 松 吹 風 も / なつかし や


Sayohime to / iwan himegumi no / mi-dashinami
Aoyanagi koshi / yuu yanagi-gami
Machi-agumi / matsu fuku kaze mo / natsukashi ya

 

A girl speaks of Sayo Hime, the goddess who spreads spring over the earth; she cares for her body and clothing as meticulously as the goddess forms petals on the flowers. Her hips and hair, as slender and flexible as willow branches covered with young green leaves swaying sensually in the wind; This is a most gorgeous female image – then Basho makes her wait for a lover who does not show. Notice the contrast between her willowy beauty and her unfulfilled desire so intense it fills the wind.

 

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

 

Starting to learn
the alphabet from
ra-mu-u-i-no
Foolishness has stopped,                                1: 21
youngster in the bedroom      

 

いろはおば /らむういのより/習い初め
わるさもやみし/閨の稚い

 

Iroha oba / ra-mu-u-i-no yori /narai-some
Warusa mo yamishi / neya no osaai

 

A boy practices the classical Japanese alphabet with 48 sounds, starting with the middle of the sequence: “rah-moo-oo-ee-noh” is like “l-m-n-o-p” in our song. But now the mischief maker sleeps. Sleep consolidates what we learn awake, so the programs are retained and available for later use. Both stanzas are about the learning process:

 

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

 

Starting to flirt
hair parted in middle
becomes  glossy
That vision emerging                    1:24
from back of her head

 


Date-narishi / furiwake kami wa / nobi neru ya
omokage ni tatsu / kano ushiro-zuki


だてなりし / ふり分け 髪 は / のび ねる や
俤 に たつ / かの うしろ つき

 

“Hair parted in the middle” suggests a young girl; as she enters adolescence and starts to flirt, her hair becomes long and elegant. Basho “sees” through her head to a vision of the beauty hidden to him. Young Basho cannot forego this vision; it is an “attachment” of the sort the Buddha warns us against.

 

 

After such a long time
he seeks her pardon
An employee                                             1: 28
has leisure time only
in others’ eyes                     

 

Hisashiburi nite / tō imo ga gari
hōkō no / hima mo yoso me no / hima to mitsu


久しぶり にて/ 訪 妹 が 許 
奉公の / 隙 も 余所 目 の / 隙 と みつ

 

He has not visited her for a long while – but here he is now, and he obviously wants sex. Basho’s stanza is the excuse he gives her. Is he telling the truth or lying? Does his job actually take up so much of his time? Or is he actually spending his spare time with another woman? If he is lying, how much else of his words are lies? Do I really want to sleep with such a liar? Which is best for me, to forgive him and go on with our relationship, or break up and go on without him? The eternal dynamic of men seeking a way into women, and women wondering about men’s fidelity.

 

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

 

Quietly descending
hand of the dancer
More than appears                                1: 31
obedient to the Energy
a small child                       

 

Ito mo shizuka na / mai no te kudari
Mikake yori / ki wa otonashiki / ko chigo nite


いとも 静 な / 舞 の 手 くだり
見かけより/ 気 は おとなしき / 小 児 にて

 

Sengin offers an elegant image of Japanese classical dance, and Basho takes that into the world of children: The movement of the dancer’s hand expresses more, much more, than simply getting from up to down; it expresses the dancer’s obedience to ki. Likewise the small child may not follow adult commands, but is obedient to that universal Energy.

 

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

 

Impatient with people
who provoke with words
When pushed                                       1: 34
again pushing back
in a crowd

 

堪忍ならぬ /詞からかい
おされては /又押し返す /人込みに

 

Kannin naranu / kotoba karakai
Osarete wa / mata oshikaesu / hitogomi ni

 

The first poet suggests a person emerging from the pine forest with some hostility.  The second poet defines that hostitlity. Basho (1644-1694) counters with his take on what his contemporary Isaac Newton (1642-1727) called the Third Law of Motion – although Basho’s version is more human and personal. An eye for an eye. What goes around, comes around. You provoke me with words, I provoke you back. It gets very complicated because we are in a crowd with many different action/reactions occurring at once.

 

 

After a quarrel
the soft rubbing sounds
of hands wringing
White tissue paper
soaked by her tears                                 1: 63


口舌事 / 手をさらさらと / おしもんで
しら紙ひたす/ 涙也けり


Kusetsu-goto / te o sara sara to / oshimonde
Shira kami hitasu / namida nari kere

 

Two hands twisting around each other in “wringing” produce faint, unobtrusive pressure sound – in Japanese sara sara -- which most people would not even call sound. The activity and sound of a woman’s hands contain her feelings of upset and loss of self-confidence. Basho completes the image with the physical-ness of tissue paper in her hands soaked by her tears.

 

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

 

Basho wrote both of the next two  stanzas together, so they have every quality of a tanka: it probably occurred in reality before 1672 while Basho still lived in his hometown of Iga (now Mie Prefecture) about 50 km. southeast of Kyoto and traveled to Kyoto to study.

 

 

River wind so cold                               1: 91
midnight to the outhouse     
Leaving Kyoto                                      1: 92
today Mika no Hara 
belly painful                          

 

川かぜ寒き / 夜半の雪隠
都出て/ けふみかのはら / いたむらし

Kawa kaze samuki / yohan no setchan
Miyako idete / kyō mika no hara / itamurashi

 

Walking from Kyoto to Iga, apparently he spent the night in Mika no Hara, a place in Kizugawa south of Kyoto, alongside the Kizu River which leads east to Iga. “Hara” is both “plain” in the place name, and also “belly.” Already in his twenties he suffered from the bowel disorder that ended his life more than two decades later in 1694.

 

 

Birds calling together
their laughing voices                                 1: 102


とも呼ぶ鳥の / 笑ひごえなる
Tomo yobu tori no / warai-goe naru

 

This single stanza portrays the happiness of birds, but even more portrays the happiness of the poet –

for only a happy person would pay enough attention to birds singing happily  to make such an observation.

 

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

 

So radiant a Moon                                 1: 105
as the goddess Lakshmi 
Her divine
necklace adorns the mountain.
clouds at dawn

 

吉祥天女も /これほどの月
あつらえの瓔珞かかる山かづら

 

Kichijou tennyo / kore hodo no tsuki
Atsurae no / youraku kakaru / yama kazura

 

Basho equates the Moon with Kichijoten, the Japanese form of Lakshmi, Hindu deity of happiness, fertility, beauty, and prosperity. Lakshmi actively involves herself in human life, bestowing good fortune, allowing us to fulfill our aims and goals.

 

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

 

Like a navel cord                               1: 107
his visits to the brothel
shall be cut off                   
He resents the thunder   
of the midnight drum

 

臍の緒を / 吉原がよい /きれはてて
かみなりの 太鼓 / うらめしの中

 

Heso no o o / Yoshiwara ga yoi / kire hatete
Kaminari no taiko / urameshi no naka

 

Money getting tight, he can no longer afford to rent a woman in the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters. Being cut off from the body of a woman, he compares to his umbilical cord, his connection  to mother, being cut. Entering a woman's genitals is like returning to mother’s womb.  This Basho teaches us. 

 

He has enjoyed her body and spirit for one evening, but cannot stay the night. A taiko, or great drum, sounds at midnight telling men they must leave. Being born, hearing for the first time sounds of the world unmuffled by the womb, must sound like thunder.  This sound he resents.

 

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

 

From the kitchen calls                         1: 120 
voice of a servant girl      
Passageway
to the second-story is
a bit far, but. . .

 

台所より /下女のよびごえ
通路の /二階はすこし / 遠けれど

 

Daitokoro yori / gejo no yobigoe
Tsuuro no / nikai wa sukoshi / tōkeredo

 

Basho focuses on the sound of a female voice, and places that sound in a specific place; a kitchen.

The next poet moves from the kitchen through a narrow  passageway to a room on the second-floor.

This is where her boyfriend, another servant, resides.  Basho provides the foundation on which the second poet builds a love poem.  The love is hidden in the words, and you have to search for it to find the love feeling.  Searching for the hidden meaning makes the poem interesting.  

 

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

 

For you, my dear,
a red silk underskirt
of crimson leaves
Vows made, in autumn                             1: 127
she became pregnant        

 

君ここに /もみのニ布の /下紅葉
契りし秋は /産妻なりけり

 

Kimi koko ni / momiji no futano no / shita momiji
Chigirishi aki wa / ubume narikeri

 

A woman is given a crimson slip to wear under her kimono – however we suspect this is her wedding night and the “red silk underskirt” her bleeding after first sex. Basho confirms this suspicion. A vow is a solemn promise to remain faithful. In many societies, including Japan, vaginal blood is considered defiling, however Shinsho and Basho portray the bloody scene without disgust or contempt, as natural and life-giving. Both virgins and experienced women may find much to consider in the link between these two stanzas.

 

Airing in summer heat
heavenly feather robe 
Shell discarded                                     1: 141
in Yoshino mountains
strumming koto
Wind through the leaves
blows the bamboo flute
His hermitage                                      1: 142
among pines and cedars
outside Kyoto                  


実土用なり / あまの羽衣
うつせみも / 吉野の山に / 琴弾きて
青嵐ふく / ひとよぎりふく
松杉の / 木の間の庵 / 京ばなれ


Geni doyō nari / ama no hane-goromo
Utsusemi mo / yoshino no yama ni/ koto hikite
Ao arashi fuku / hitoyogiri fuku
Matsu sugi no / ki no ma no an / kyō-banare

 

In the Noh play Hagoromo, the Feather Robe, a celestial maiden visiting Earth, lays down her feather robe on a tree while she bathes in a clear stream. The first poet changes that to a more down-home image:

airing the robe out in the mid-summer heat to eliminate moisture and insects. As the celestial maiden removed her robe, so the juvenile cicada sheds its skin – or “exoskelton” or “shell” -- to emerge as an adult; the utsusemi, or abandoned skin, remains, on the bark of the tree. Utsusemi, in the Tale of Genji, is a woman who resisted Genji’s romantic advances; one night he tried to force himself on her, but she escaped, leaving her outer robe behind in his grasp and giving her the name she is known by.


The Yoshino Mountains are far enough from Kyoto that she can play her koto in peace without Genji bothering her. The mountain trees are full of countless adult male cicadas making their “cries” by rapidly vibrating abdominal membranes; the sound goes on and on all day long in the heat of summer, driving some people crazy, while some, such as Basho, compare the notes of a koto.   The third poet changes from harp to flute; the wind through the leaves and the musician's breath through the flute are one.  Basho gives this artist a hermitage in the woods around Kyoto where he can constantly learn flute-playing from listening to the wind - yet still with access to the City and all its people. 

 

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

 

Family relationships                        1: 147
so difficult to escape
In the world
when there are daimyo
are merchants too
The willow is green                          1: 147
credit pulls you in

 

親類分は / のがれがたしや
世の中よ / 大名あれば / 町人あり
柳は緑 / かけは取りがち

 

Shinseki bun wa / nogare-gatashi ya
Yo no naka yo / daimyou areba / tojin ari
Yanagi wa midori / kake wa tori-gachi

 

 

Basho’s first stanza will mean different things to different people. Where there are provincial lords living life expensively, there must also be merchants.  Merchants to get rich offer credit, and credit pulls some people in, so they buy and borrow beyond their earning power, thinking somehow they will find the money to pay back. “Credit pulls people in” is just as inevitable as “the willow is green.” 

 

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

 

That night Mount Fuji                       1: 155 
with Mount Tray-on-legs        
Plane shavings
lit by pine torch, burst
into flames

 

その夜の富士に / 足打の山
かんな屑 /だいまつはつと / ふりたてて


Sono ya no fuji ni / ashi uchi no yama
Kanna kuzu / taimatsu hatsu to / furitatete

 

Mount Fuji is a single symmetrical cone of 13,000 feet with no other mountains nearby – except Ashitaga less than a one third of that to the south. The two seem connected, and legend says Fuji, and Ashitaga too, magically formed in one night. Basho sees Fuji as a samurai sitting on his heels, straight, symmetrical, and dignified, to eat a meal, and Ashitaga is the “tray on legs” where his meal is served.  A tray is wooden, and requires a plane to make, so the shavings must be burned. The torch bursting into flames suggests the volcano of this mountain, and the torches for the Fuji-Yoshida fire festival, where many men carry enormous torches through town as a prayer to the Goddess of Mount Fuji to spare the town another year without an eruption.  This is how renku flows. 

 

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

 

Village showers
bisexuals go crazy
either way
People die for love
the wind makes a sound                  1: 157
Water flowing
on sleeves cannot quench
the great fire

 

村時雨 / 衆道ぐるひの / 二道に
人死の恋 / 風さはぐなり
大火事を / 袖行く水に /  ふせぎかね


Mura shigure / shudō-gurui no / futa michi ni

Hitojini no koi / kaze sawagu nari

Ou kaji wo / sode yuku mizu ni / fusegikane

 

“Showers” are rain that fall suddenly and unexpectedly, and stop soon, leaving us drenched and cold; the suggestion is ejaculation, Basho says that even with only heterosexual relations, people die for love -- so the wind makes a sound. As we put up our hands to cover our eyes when we cry, tears fall on our kimono sleeves, so “water flowing on sleeves” means tears. The great fire, whipped to a frenzy by the wind, could not be put out by the tears, so someone died; the great Meireki fire burned down Edo nine years earlier.

 

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

 

Benevelence from above                               1: 164
down comes cost of rice

 

慈悲はかみより /さがる米の値
Jihi wa kami yori / sagaru kome no ne

 

This single stanza by Basho pivots around the word  kami which means either “above” or “the Gods or divine forces.”   The phrase "from above down comes" means one thing following "benevolence" and something diffrerent preceeding "cost of rice."     “Benevolence from the Gods coming down” is a proverb, but Basho sets up the word to also be the people above us who set the prices of commodities. He blends religion with economics- just as in THE WILLOW PULLS YOU IN he blends nature with economics.


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

 

Well, that’s that!                                     1: 187
yesterday has passed
globefish soup                
Noticing the coldness
to the tip of my toes

 

あら何とも /なやきのふは過ぎて / 河豚汁
寒さ しさつて /足 の 先 まで

 

Ara nani to mo / na ya kinou wa sugite / fuguto-jiru
Samusa shisatte / ashi no saki made

 

The liver and ovaries of the globefish contain the poison tetrodotoxin which, if the fish is not properly prepared, deadens the tongue and lips, and induces dizziness and vomiting, followed by numbness and prickling over the body, rapid heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and muscle paralysis which stops breathing.  Properly prepared, you get the taste of the poison without the ill effects. Yesterday Basho enjoyed this culinary Russian roulette. and is especially pleased to wake up the next morning.


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

 

After several
cups of wine. . . sadly
past sunset
The moon as long ago                            1: 197
old friends now granddads          

 

一ニ献 / 跡はさびしく /くれすぎて
月はむかしの / 親仁友達


Ichi ni kon / ato ha sabishiku / kure sugite
Tsuki wa mukashi no / oyaji tomodachi 

 

 The verse is filled to the brim with male sentimentality brought on by drinking sake with childhood friends in our old village where we grew up -- each one of us now with grandkids.

 

Sunrise, sunset. Sunrise, sunset. Swiftly flow the years

 

The moon is the same moon as long ago, but we sure have changed –

as seen through the haze of alcohol in each of our brains.

 

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

 

Are you calling
for a horse to borrow?
ho-toto-GI-su
Woods in morning shade                     1: 207
Aren’t you really a fox?

 

飛び乗りの /馬からふとや /ほととぎす
森の朝影 / 狐ではないか

 

Tobi nori no / uma karauto ya / hototogisu
Mori no aka kage / kitsune dewa nai ka

 

Hearing the bright clear five-note tune of the little cuckoo, the poet wonders if the bird is calling for a horse – the way nowadays we hail a taxicab; this is absurd, because what does a bird who can fly anywhere in three dimensions need from a horse who can only run on the ground?

 

Basho continues playing with the call of this bird. He locates it in the woods where light and shadows mingle. Foxes in Japanese folklore change themselves into other beings, so he wonders if the bird is actually a fox which has magically changed itself into a little cuckoo.  Why on earth would a fox pretend  to be a bird? The poets demonstrate renku play, renku for fun, yet both ridiculous questions require listening to the sound the little cuckoo actually makes in the forest from May to July. 

 

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

 

Ragged and tattered
the goddess works at night
as maple leaves fall                                                1: 210
In smoke from the lantern
she appears as the Moon

 

つづれとや / 仙女の夜なべ / 散紅葉
瓦灯 の 煙 に / 俤 の 月


Tsuzure to ya / sennyo no yonabe / chiru momiji 
Gatou no kemuri ni / omokage no tsuki

 

“Ragged and tattered” are her family’s clothes that need mending before winter comes, and the scene of deciduous trees as their leaves disappear in autumn. “Night work” are the jobs she does after her workday is over, while the rest of the family sleeps. The Greeks and Romans had no Goddess of Work, but Basho does. The next poet gives her a lantern –with fire burning oil – to light up her work; like a genie she appears in smoke.

 

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

 

In green face                                                1: 223
of laughing mountain
spring is seen
Cascade from earthernware
he drinks all he can drink
Voices rising
in storm on the waves
a tour boat
Wild geese! Plovers!               1: 224
fools with their friends

 

青い つら / 笑 山 より /春 見えて
かわらげの龍 /のめばのむ程
声がたつ / 嵐に波の / 遊舟
雁よ千鳥よ/ おはう 友達

Aoi tsura / warau yama yori / haru miete

Kawarage no ryuu / nomeba nomu hodo 

Koe ga tatsu / arashi ni nami no / yuusen
Kari yo chidori yo / ahō tomodachi

 

Basho says the green spreading over the mountain face is like laughter – one of his many life-affirming messages. The second poet is more into getting drunk; he has this smiling face enjoy a “cascade” of rice wine from an earthenware cup. The third poet puts this sake-loving guy on a tour boat. People came on this boat to have a good time with their friends, but storm arouses the waves so they scream in distress.

 

Basho is NOT speaking of birds at all; instead he means the people on the boat sound like birds; some like temperamental wild geese making their loud continuous “honking,” and others more like plovers, usually silent but occasionally making a soft ka ka sound -- but whichever bird they sound like, they are still aho, fools: strange that Basho 350 years ago used this word which today is  a swear word. And how did we get here from the green face of laughing mountain?

 

 

Mother of a lost child
is your pelvis upset?                                     1: 234

 

迷ひ子の母 腰がぬけたか
Mayoi go no haha / koshi ga nuketa ka

 

Here is an idea women may appreciate, however difficult to imagine coming from the austere impersonal monk that Basho is said to have been: the idea that a mother feels her child’s unexplained absence physically in her pelvis where she carried that child for nine months. The verse is so physical, in the body – yet not sexual.

Nine-year old
high priest’s high spirits
autumn passes 
               
Juusai no / oshō no uwaki / aki fukete
十歳の / 和向の 上気 / 秋 更けて

 

This is not an actual priest, but rather a young boy full of self-confidence and vigor. In my experience, nine years of age is when a  boy reaches the summut of  mischievousness.  (The Japanese says age 10, but remember that they counted birth as age one; so I subtract one from all Japanese ages.)  Basho wrote many poems about how his spirits faded with autumn passing, but this child has so much spirit, it lasts through the season of sadness.

 

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

 

Young guys are drawn to                 1: 239
waves of doorway curtain        
Bloated faces
drowned in the watery
pool of love

 

わかいもののよる / のうれんの波
恋の渕 / 水におぼるる /人相有


Wakai mono no yoru / nōren no nami
Koi no fuchi / mizu ni oboruru / ninsō ari

 

Doorway curtains often hang in the entrance to a shop or restaurant, where you walk through the vertical slit between two side flaps. Here the curtain is in the doorway to a brothel. Yes, sex does lead men into some pretty miserable “pools.” We see their drowned, waterlogged faces through the flaps of doorway curtain (like the faces Frodo and Sam saw in the Dead Marshes).

 

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

 


From one thousand                         1: 249
stanzas to ten trillion
at tip of nose

 

千句より / 十万億も / 鼻の先
Senku yori / juu man oku mo / hana no saki

 

I have translated accurately: juuman oku, 10 x 10,000 x 100,000,000 equals ten trillion.

The diversity of human experience is vast.


The travelers's
greasy smell on the pillow
so disgusting!

 

Sardines are roasted by                                    1: 253
inconstancy of their vows           

 

Tabi makura / abura kusasa ya / kirauran

旅 枕 油 くさきや / 嫌うらん

Iwashi de kari no / chigiri yakaruru

鰯 で かりの / 契り やかるる

 

Both men and women of the upper classes treated their hair with camellia oil so it would hold the customary styles. This woman at a roadside inn cooks for travelers and also provides sex. She hates the greasy smell a customer's hair leaves on her pillow. She also hates the degrading pretence of false vows made to satisfy him with no possibility of becoming true love, since she is indentured and can never leave, and this hatred burns hot enough to roast the sardines she prepares for him.

 

Father a minister of state             1: 270
his wealth gone in spring

Personal items
and a twelve layer robe
of faint mist

 

父大臣の / かねつぶす春

手道具や /十にいち重の / 薄霞

 

Chichi daijin no / kane tsubusu haru
Te-michi-gu ya / juuniichi-jo no / usu-gasumi

 

Father has immense wealth and power, yet this spring has to pay for his daughter’s trousseau. She needs all sorts of “personal items” – cosmetics, female hygiene products, etc. – and a twelve-layered wedding robe, an extremely elegant and highly complex and fantastically expensive kimono worn  by court-ladies in Japan from the 10th century. The entire robe could weight up to 20 kilograms. The mist represents the spring season, yet in contrast to the father’s political and financial power, mist suggests the quiet hidden mysteries of the daughter and bride. He is yang, she is yin.

 

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

 

 

Weak in love                            1: 282
the royal princess’s
royal words                       
Along with her nurse
she has an iron shield

 

恋よわし / 内親王の / 御言葉
乳母さえあらば /くるがねの楯

 

Koi yowashi / naishinnō no / on-kotoba
Menoto sae araba / kurugane no tate

 

“Weak in love” means she falls for any boy or man she finds attractive, and will give her love to any good-looking guy who promises her love. The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet tried to protect Juliet, but that didn’t end so well. This nurse is Japanese so she is more diligent, holding an “iron shield” before the princess’ private parts.

 

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

 

To understand Basho renku, we must explore his spoken words about renku (which he calls haikai)

 

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

 

発句は門人の中、予におとらぬ句する人多し。
俳諧においては老翁が骨髄
Haiku wa monjin no naka, yo ni otoranu ku suru oi shi.
Haikai ni oite wa roo ga kotsuzui

 

The word haikai is used in different ways, and some may think it includes both linked verse and hokku (i.e. haiku) – however Basho here clearly differentiates between hokku and renku; he succinctly admits that his haiku are nothing special, but states that in renku we find his unique genius. I however see it differently:

a few Basho haiku reach the magnificence of his greatest renku, while the majority are only so-so.  

 

This is a path with a fresh lively taste
in both heart and words, giving life.

 

この道は心・辞ともに新味をもって命とす
Kono michi wa kokoro, kotoba tomo ni shinnmi o motte inochi to su

 

Basho's statements are so sensory.  When we look at all the people in Basho, especially the women and children, look at their aliveness and activity, we see the “bone marrow” of his consciousness, his fresh lively feeling for connection with other people.

 


Rise high to enlighten the heart
then return to the common

 

高く心を悟りて、俗に帰るべし
Takaku kokoo o satorite, zoku ni kaeru beshi

 

Basho searches for enlightenment when he writes a verse, then when he is finished, he returns to the ordinary world where he searches for material to write about in another verse. 

 

Basho4humanity@gmail.com 

 

 

 

 






<< 女性の5つのライフステージ (J-05 ) (K-02 ) Basho Renku Section 2 >>


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