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


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

Quotations from Basho Prose


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



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


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


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



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


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


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


"Link verses the way
children play."


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


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

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


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



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


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


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


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

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


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


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


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



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com

 



Home  >  Topics  >  Children and Teens  >  C-20


Icons of the Child

Seven Basho Renku Visions of Childhood Energy

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

In article C-7 are 107 Basho visions of childhood.  In this article, however, I have selected just five Basho renku stanza-pairs and two single stanzas by Basho which penetrate to the depths of child nature.  All selections are  about children from age 3 to 12 (Poems about infant and teenagers abound in other articles),  and I must admit these are mostly about boys or children in general. Basho’s portraits of teenagers are mostly about girls, but between 3 and 12 he seems to have paid more attention to boys.

.

We learn from Basho the nature of age seven, the child giving hope, the exuberance of children “running and jumping about,” the child’s “eagle eyes” and magical understanding of language, the silent tears of a child, the succession of generations through childhood.

 

Before my eyes
the scene just as is
makes a haiku --
As a child turns seven
face becomes clear

 

目 前 の / けしき そのまま / 詩 に 作る
八ッ に なる子の / 顔清げなり
Me no mae no / keshiki sono mama /shi ni tsukuru
Yattsu ni naru ko no / kao kiyoge naru

 

Not every haiku must be exactly as seen – as many of Basho’s verses were not – however sketching reality is one way he recommends. The two stanzas – both by Basho -- together say that conceiving a haiku should occur naturally, organically, as one’s face develops.

 

For Basho to see that children’s facial features transform at age seven (the Japanese says yattsu, “eight” because they counted a baby as one year old at birth, so we subtract one from Japanese ages) changing from a baby face to the “clear” features of a child, then to write a poem about this phenomenon, he must have watched the faces of many children, especially his three younger sisters. his is not something only Basho saw. Many students of child development – in particular the Swiss psychologist and epistemologist Jean Piaget known for his pioneering work in child development -- note the onset of a new stage at age seven. Cultures worldwide consider age seven to be the beginning of wisdom and moral understanding – which may lead us to the masterpiece DAUGHTER PLAYING KOTO that follows:

 

With her needle
in autumn she manages
to make ends meet

Daughter playing koto
reaches age seven

 

お針して / 秋も命の / 緒を繋ぎ
琴引娘 / 八ッになりける

 

 

O-hari shite /aki mo inochi no / o o tsunagi

 

koto hiki musume / yattsu ni narikeru


This woman has enough work sewing before winter comes. She may “make ends meet” in autumn, but has to survive the rest of the year. Into this poor struggling home, Basho introduces a daughter and a koto, or 13-string harp, an instrument of refinement played only by women. Notice the link between the form of needlework and the strings and frets on the harp. Both stanzas convey the diligence and constant effort of the female, the action of her hands producing order, rhythm, and beauty.

 

The daughter plays her mother’s koto here and now -- and also plays it through the months, years, decades of practice required to master the instrument. Basho praises the young girl in the early stages of her discipline. We imagine the pride the hard-working mother feels hearing her seven-year-old daughter produce such beauty. With utmost subtlety and grace, through the powerful effect music has on the brain, Basho portrays the bond between mother and daughter, the hope for a better future that the growing and learning girl evokes in her mother, hope rising on the lovely notes emerging from her seven-year old fingers on the harp.

 

For some coolness
they throw off their clothes

to wait for the moon

Straw mats held in front
they run and jump about

“Are you asleep?”
strange that the dog’s tail
holds it shape

 

すずしさの /裸になりて /月を待
筵をたてに / はしりとびする
ねて居るか /おかしく犬の /尾をすべて

 

Suzushisa no / hadaka ni narite / tsuki or matsu
Mushiro o tate ni / hashiri tobi suru
Ne iru ka / okashiku inu no / o o subete

 

Ryoban shows us little kids with no inhibition at all about taking off their clothes when the heat is so oppressive even in the evening. They are waiting for the moon to rise, but this may carry the hidden meaning of “waiting for puberty.” Basho adds euphoric body movement to this portrait of children. He says naked is okay, but how about a bit of restraint? The kids hold thin straw mats about a meter square in front of them as they dash about screaming. Still we see their “moons.” Children still in the paradise of innocence, but feeling the first hints of the shame to emerge when their bodies show sexual traits. One naked child stops running to notice a dog lying nearby. The animal seems fully asleep -- but also holds its tail with attention.

5

Shiba and Akita dogs, the original breeds on these islands, are known for perpetually holding their tails up in a perfect curl, the white fur under the tail curling around to show on top, as round and white as the moon (ahh! the link between the three stanzas).

The poet 300 years ago makes this observation, through the eyes of a child, about Japanese dogs, and we can see the same any evening in a Japanese neighborhood; dogs with tightly curled tails. Somehow the brain signals which produce this tail shape are programmed into Japanese dog genes. The child who runs and jumps about in naked joy can also observe the world and wonder about consciousness and brain-muscle control. Each stanza deepens our perception of children’s humanity.

 

At New Year
we take along our
little buggers

Though meaning we hide
they stand and listen

 

年 長に /ちいさき やつら / 供 させて
隠す たより を / 立ちながら 聞く

Nenchō ni / chiisaki yatsura / tomo sasete
Kakusu tayori o/ tachinagara kiku

 

For New Year’s Day we get dressed up to visit shrines and friends and people important in our lives – so we adults have a lot to talk about: We drag the kids along with us, but really they do not want to go. We hide our meaning in a maze of adult words with references to people and things they know not – but how much do the language sponges understand? Bokusetsu, who was a doctor, observes children paying attention.

 

 

Fisherman’s child
to announce a whale
blows into a shell

 

海士の /子が鯨を告げる / 貝吹いて
Ama no ko no kujira o tsugeru kai fuite

 

Whalers would spot whales from stations along the shore and launch boats to catch them with harpoons and lances. Basho’s single stanza -- a half-dozen words and a few particles -- combines the intriguing trio of child, whale, and shell; we start with medium-size child, then move out to enormous whale, and return to tiny shell in boy’s hand, then spread out to fill the area with sound. That sound carries this child’s life force. Still moving, the mind goes to the villagers rushing to their boats to chase the fleeing whale, waves surging, the boy watching excitedly from his post.

 

Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears

 

秋 風 は / 物いはぬ 子も / 涙 にて
Aki kaze wa / mono iwanu ko mo /namida nite

 

Because the stanza gives no hint of circumstances, we can imagine the child in any circumstances shedding silent tears.  The stanza by itself is brilliant because it can apply to any child, anywhere in the world, in any era, and so it unites all children into a single icon. (To experience the stanza with the ones before and after, see E-12 MY FIRST RENKU JOURNEYS).

 

Young and helpless
with bow and arrows,
the boy kneels

White hair seen through
gaps in bamboo blind

 

The newest student at an archery dojo kneels on the floor, feeling small and weak. To this, we add an image of the dojo where tall powerful men strut about with dangerous weapons, making the boy feel the way he does. The boy kneels in hiza-mazuki, hips resting on heels propped up on feet with toes forward – students of Japanese martial arts will recognize this - a position of alert readiness; so he struggles to keep his skinny back and shoulders straight, with all the resolution he can muster against the intimidation.

 

The white hair showing in long horizontal gaps between thin bamboo stalks tied in parallel belongs to the boy’s grandfather who hides behind the screen to watch without the boy knowing. He knows that for his grandson to see him would interfere with the boy’s training. How does the old man know this? (Here I take a step which you may not join.) Granddad is an accomplished archer – in Japanese, a shihan – who has trained in this dojo since he was a child. As the old man watches, he can see himself kneeling there young and helpless 50 years ago. He sees the entire process of little boy becoming aged master. So we cooperate with the poet to fulfill a life-affirming vision. With the missing pieces filled in, the two stanzas convey a profound human truth: the grandfather’s compassionate concern for his grandson, a bond which passes through to the third generation.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com

 

 






<< Kids in Western Literature until Shakespeare (C-19) (C-21) Teenage Girls >>


The Three Thirds of Basho

 

 

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

 

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


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

Quotations from Basho Prose


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



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


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


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



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


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


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


"Link verses the way
children play."


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


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

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


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



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


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


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


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

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


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


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


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



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com