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-03


Basho Renku Section 3

From 1682 to 1685 with commentaries and 日本語の原文

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

Basho's following stanzas illustrate his spoken words:


"Make linked verse ride the Energy;   
Chime in incorrectly, you ruin the rhythm."

 

俳諧は気に乗せてすべし

相槌あしく拍子をそこなう

 

Haikai wa ki ni nosete subeshi
aizuchi ashiku hyoushi o sokonau

 

Basho seems to have jumped forward to our times, and brought back some New Age consciousness. 

 

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

 

Realm of magic
where gems of waterfall
enter a dream
Sun bumps Her forehead              3: 24
on peak of Mount Fuji

 

夢 にいる / 玉 落 の 滝 / 雲 の 洞
日に 額 を うつ 富士の 峰 上げ

 

Yume ni iru / tama chiru no taki / kumo no dō
Hi ni gaku o utsu / fuji no mine age

 

The sparkling water falls as the mind falls into a dream.  How can Basho "ride the energy" of this psychedelic stanza to "chime in" without "ruining the rhythm"?  He transfers from gems of waterfall to the ultimate "gem" of Japan, the Rising Sun.  The Sun Goddess Amaterasu has a female face, and as she rises behind the iconic mountain, She bumps her forehead on the jagged peak. Ouch!

 

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

 

Here Basho begins with a vision of the behavior of some men worldwide and throughout time:

 

From his seclusion                               3: 28
he comes to peak in on
his wife and kids
With one song in his ears
the pleasure quarters linger

 

遁世のよ所に妻子を覗き見て
つぎ歌耳にのこるよし原

Tonsei no / yoso ni tsumako o / nozoki mite

Tsugi uta mimi ni / nokoru Yoshiwara  

 

 

The second poet fulfills Basho's vision, so we see the entire story.  This man abandoned his family long ago to join the fun and games in the pleasure-quarters; he no longer goes there, but has not returned to them. Instead he stays in seclusion, with no responsibility for anyone but himself. Sometimes he peaks in on them and wonders what would of happened if… then he returns to his seclusion. Sometimes in his auditory brain he recalls a particular merrymaking song along with memories of the place where he heard and sang it.

 

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

 

Ritual wands are burning
spirit of a white dove
Prayers for the dead
moon shines on the mirror
stained with blood                                          3: 50

 

幣 火に もえて / 白 鳩 の 神ン
奏聞(?)/ 月  照  鏡 / 血 ぬるらん


Nusa hi ni moete / shiro-bato no shin
sōmon (?) / tsuki teru kagami / chi numeruran

 

In Shinto purification rituals; a priest or miko (female shaman) waves the wand with paper streams left and right to absorb unclean energy. The most defiling event according to Shinto is death, so at a funeral many ritual wands are used and defiled, and must be burned. The dove is a messenger of Hachiman, the god of war, and patron saint of the Genji warrior clan, and white is the color of that clan. The symbols all together indicate our being at a funeral for a man who died in battle. 

 

Both the mirror and the moon represent the purity of the soul untainted by contact with the world - but this mirror is stained with the blood shed in war, so no longer can the moonlight shine in it. 

 

The symbols overflow in this stanza-pair, and it may be difficult to keep track of them all.  Instead of trying to see them in linear progression;  it may be better to view them as points on a map, appearing as a totality. 

 

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

 

Breaking off white lotus
to adorn a lovely girl
Iridescent                               3: 51
kingfisher now alights
on dance stage                    

 

蓮華をおりて / 美女にかんざす
彩 の / 翡翠 舞筵に / 落ちる か と


Renge o orite / bijo ni kanzasu
Aidori no / hisui mushiro ni / ochiru ka to

 

The superbly beautiful lotus grows from a dank swamp.  Here the hand of someone breaks off the flower and puts it into the hair of a lovely girl.  Basho switches from these symbols to the kingfisher, a   bird known for its bright plumage. He compares the activity of adorning a girl's hair with the bird, or a dancer, descending gracefully and mysteriously on the dance stage. 

 

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

 

Making love to young lord
clouds over hunting ground
Our first princess                       3:96
in headman’s household
shall be nurtured                

 

狩場 の 雲 に / 若 殿 を恋
一 の 姫 / 里 の 庄家に / 養 はれ


Kariba no kumo ni / waka dono o kō
Ichi no hime / sato no shōka ni / yashinaware

 

The image of a young lord of noble birth at the hunting grounds has a long romantic tradition which Kikaku suggests in his stanza; in this context, “clouds” suggest sex. Basho makes the “young lord” the oldest son of the village headman. Our oldest daughter, our “first princess,” is marrying, or dreaming of marrying, the future head of the most prosperous family in this village. The words “shall be nurtured” are chosen to express Basho’s good wishes for her future in her new family, wishes that everyone in the household will support her in her roles as wife and mother.

 

Basho gives Hope to the young female that everyone in the family she marries into will “nurture” her throughout the decades to come. Throughout the patriarchal world, women will understand this hope.

 

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

 

Watch Master Basho
swat at butterflies!
These rotten                         3: 98 
verses even a dog
will not eat 

                      

芭蕉あるじ の / 蝶 たたく 見よ
くせいたる /俳諧 犬 も / 食らわず や


Bashō aruji no / chō tataku mi yo
Kuseitaru /haikai inu mo / kurawazu ya

 

Kikaku teases Basho for his obsession with Chuang Tzu’s butterfly dream, the point beginning that Basho is too clumsy to catch the insect midair. Maybe he could hit one in his dreams, but dreams are not reality. Basho responds that Kikaku’s stanza is so “rotten” that a dog, who will eat garbage, passes on this one.

 

 

Ridiculed for
his Little Murasaki
cast in gold.
Black as fins of bream                           3: 99
laughing woman's breasts           

 

嘲りニ / 黄金ハ鋳る / 小紫
黒鯛 黒し / おとく女 が 乳


Azakuri ni / ōkon wa iru / Ko-Murasaki
Kurodai kuroshi / otoku me ga chichi

 

A man enthralled with the beauty of the Yoshiwara courtesan Little Murasaki had a statue cast of her entirely in gold. People made fun of his obsession with her charms. Basho counters with a woman with huge breasts, like Otafuku, a legendary character anthropologist Michael Ashkenazi describes as a “full-checked, plump peasant woman laughing happily.” Apparently she is a shell diver darkened from all-day exposure to the sun, but Japanese men prefer slender women with light skin, so no one will make a golden statue of her.

 

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

 

With iron bow
he goes out to confront 
this brutal world
Tigress at daybreak
yearns to be pregnant                   3: 100

 

鉄の弓 取 / 世に出よ
虎 懐かしき / 妊るあかつき


Tetsu no yumi / tori kakeki / yo ni de yo
Tora natsukashiki / migomoru akatsuki

 

The “iron bow” suggests the folk tale of Yuriwaka betrayed by a subordinate and abandoned on an island, but returning to take vengeance with his gigantic bow (a story similar to the Odyssey). Kikaku expresses the masculine “boldly” fighting for vengeance (or whatever men seek), then Basho reaches for the ultimate creative female. No sweat little girl, she is a fierce tigress. In Imperial China, a tiger represented the highest general (while a dragon was Emperor and phoenix the Empress) but every tiger has a tigress in the background. Daybreak is the Sun-Goddess giving birth to the day and to life.

 

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

 

A secret man, for shame!
your life so wretched!                                  3: 120  
As morning glory
vines twist and turn,
shaken awake --
Forlorn she cuts her hair,
their lies spread like kudzu
Clinging to mama                                    3:120b
she turns her back on
the Moon’s orb                  

 

密 夫 はぢよ / いのちつれなき
あさがおの /くねるにゆすり /おかされて
うしと 髪 きる / 葛の いつはり
母の 親 に / あまえて月 を / 背け おり


Ma-otoko wa haji yo/ inochi tsurenaku
Asagao no / kuneru ni yusuri / okosarete
Uso to kami kiru / kudzu no itsuwari
Haha no oya ni / amaete tsuki o / somuke ori

 

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. 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 her self. 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. She hides from the Moon, facing into mother’s body.

 

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

 

After thirty years
in Yoshiwara, age of
hair ninety-nine
On the bedroom pillar                          3: 125
nembutsu is written
           
吉原の / 三十年を老の / つくも 髪
ねや の はしら に / 念仏 書いて おく


Yoshiwara no / misoji o oi no / tsukumo-gami
Neya no hashira ni / nembutsu kaite oku

 

The average age of death for play-women was about 22, so a woman still in the Yoshiwara play quarters after thirty years is most unusual. The experience has aged her hair more than the rest of her. The nembutsu prayer for salvation from the bodhisattva Amida is usually chanted everyday by Buddhists of the Pure Land Sects who believe that simple recitation, without knowledge of scriptures or meditation, will bring a person to the holy land of Amida –  but this woman wanted a more permanent prayer. From Basho’s stanza, we cannot tell whether she is still alive or dead and gone – but we feel her hope. 

 

 

Air shimmers,                               3: 134
building daimyo's mansion                      
the Sun-Carpenter
Brides blossom within brides
a hundred years of grain

 

陽炎の / 具 殿屋 作る / 日 の 大工
嫁 に 嫁 咲 / 百年 の 粟


Kagerou no / gu tonoya tsukuru / hi no daiku
Yome ni yome saku / hyakunen no zoku

 

Air shimmers - light refracting through moisture rising from the ground warmed by the spring sun - are the Sun-Carpenter building a mansion for the provincial lord who gets to live in such a psychedelic house. She is the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, Queen of Photosynthesis, who builds many things – such as all plant life -- with her light.

 

The next poet goes deep, deep inside the bride’s body, into her uterus where millions of egg cells “blossom” – a positive joyful word –preparing to become brides (and husbands) in the future. Although none of the egg cells in the female fetus do any developing until this girl enters puberty, still their presence represents life carrying life forward, while Sun and Earth work together producing grains to feed all those children.

 

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

 

Seeds start to sprout
for our treasured grass
Giving birth to                              3:158
love in the world, she
adorns herself                             

 

早苗 はじめて / 得し 寶 草 
世の愛を / 産みけん人 の / 御 粧


Sanae hajimete / eshi takara kusa .
yo no ai o / umiken hito no / on-yosoi

 

A woman make herself beautiful before and while giving birth – as Mother Earth puts on green make-up. The lovely infant rice plants look like ordinary grass, showing no sign that four months later they will yield the staple food of Asia. We watch Basho’s mind go from rice sprouting to woman giving birth to the child she loves, then returns to Mother Earth giving birth to countless billions of plants. Woman merges with Earth, each making herself beautiful.

 

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

 

Whose nation                           3: 161 
is recalled? as a mirror
the moon shines              
Fascinated by a song
written for the koto

 

誰が 國の/ 記念 ぞ 鏡 / すむ 月 は
琴の 唱歌 に / 作り 艶れて


Daga koku no / katami zo kagami / sumu tsuki wa
Koto no shōka ni / tsurite tawarete

 

Basho says that the Moon which has watched every country rise, continue, and fall is like a mirror which reflects that history. By gazing at the Moon, or at a mirror, he seeks to recall the past. Music is one more way to turn vision back and connect with the past. Modern composers try to make pieces new and different, but traditional music, as for the koto, continuously evokes the past. Every composition contains reflections from older compositions, recalling the years that have passed since then; this is the fascinating part. Moon, memory, mirror, and music: each of these connects us with the past, so each one of them interesting.

 

 

Till her hair grows back                 3: 185 
she must hide her self     
In the bitterness
of delusion, squeezing out
milk to throw away
Beside unfading stupa
in distress she cries
Shadow figure                              3: 186
in the cold of dawn
lights a fire   
Empty house,  the owner
taken away by poverty                
髪 はやす ま を /しのぶ 身 の ほど
偽りの / つらしと 乳を /しぼりすて
きえぬ卒塔婆に / すごすごと なく
影法の / あかつきさむく / 火を焚いて
あるじはひんに / たえし虚家


Kami hayasu ma o / shinobu mi no hodo
Itsuwari no / tsurashi chi o / shibori-sute
Kienu sotoba ni / sugo sugo to naku
Kagebōshi no / akatsuki samuku / hi o taite
Aruji wa hin ni / taeshi kara ie

 

He seduced her with promises of love and devotion, but when she gave birth to a son, he took the boy to be his heir and abandoned her. She entered a temple which takes in such women, had to cut her hair and stay in a cell. Only when her hair has grow back can she can re-enter society. Her breasts still have milk which she has to squeeze out and throw away – while she recalls the baby that milk is produced for – such is the bitterness in her heart.

 

The “delusion” is that reality will be kind or fair to us. A stupa is a pagoda-shaped wooden tablet set up by a tomb with phrases written for the repose of the dead's soul. This, unlike her baby, will remain. The spirit of the dead child, a shadow figure, has returned for a moment to warm and console mother with the gift of fire. Later on when she builds a fire, she will feel her child’s presence.

 

The shadow figure becomes a vagrant who has found an empty house whose owner has succumbed to poverty; he burns the cabinets and shelves and other wood lying around so he will not succumb to hypothermia. Both the owner and the vagrant are shadows, vestiges of humanity, leftovers after the dignity has been squeezed out.

 

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

 

Coming down from Court to
street of gossipy neighbors --
“How are blossoms
at the palace?” a nun asks
the second nun 
“A butterfly among wireweed!”              3: 188
she says, blowing her nose
      
となりさかしき / 町に下り居る
ニの尼に / 近衛の花の / さかりきく
蝶 は むぐら にと / ばかり鼻 かむ


Tonari sakashiki / machi ni kudari iru
Ni no ama ni / konoe no hana no / sakari kiku
Chō wa mugura ni to / bakari hana kamu

 

A court lady took the tonsure upon the death of her emperor and left Court to live in the ordinary bustle of Kyoto streets. When another nun, a friend of hers still at Court, comes to visit, the first nun asks about the cherry blossoms she used to know and love. Butterfly is an image of feminine elegance, whereas the obnoxious climbing weed mugura, “wireweed,” grows wild over anything in its path without the slightest hint of elegance. The second nun exclaims, “Imagine you, a person of the Imperial Court, among these lowly gossips” while she chokes up with tears filling her nasal passages.

 

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

 

From late night
pillow talk, I realize
he is my cousin
Our marriage cut off                   3: 198
my grief remaining             

 

床ふけて / 語ればいとこ / なる男
縁さま だけ の / 恨み のこりし


Toko fukete / katareba itoko / naru otoko
En sama dake no / urami nokorishi

 

Talking with the brothel’s customer in bed, I realize he is my cousin; we probably have never met, but he spoke of a relative who is my relative. Basho then takes an amazing leap into coincidence, al la Dickens: this cousin also was the one arranged to marry me, but something happened and my family needed money, so they sold me to a brothel. And now here he is, in bed with me, only for one night.

 

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

 

Tomorrow to the enemy
our heads shall be sent
Having Kosanda                         3: 199
hold my sake cup
one song I sing                

 

明日は かたきに / 首 送りせん
小三太 に / 盃 とらせ /ひとつ うたい


Asu wa tataki ni / kubi okurisen
Kosanda ni / sakezuki torase / hitotsu utai

 

The night before the great battle; we are outnumbered and have no advantage. “Our necks will be sent” means we die in battle. Kosanda is my retainer; in gratitude for the years he has served, in recognition of our vow to face death together, I hand him my cup of sake to hold while I sing one song, my final song in this life.

 

See how men use music, war, and sake for self-glorification.

 

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

 

Bamboo fence
crumbled and washed away
by the tsunami
A Buddha was eaten                   3: 210
by fish we cut open            

 

まがきまで / 津波 の 水 に / くずれ行
佛 喰たる / 魚 解き けり


Magaki made / tsunami no mizu ni / kuzure yuki
Hotoke kuitaru / sakana hodoki keri

 

A bamboo fence has been completely washed away. The waves engulfed a temple and washed away a wooden or bronze image of the Buddha. We know this because we are fisher folk who have captured a huge fish (or whale?) and while we gut it we discover the Buddha there in the stomach. Would a fish really eat a wooden or bronze statue of zero food value and likely to get caught in the throat? I don’t think so.

 

Another interpretation is possible – but you may not like this one either: Buddhism speaks of death as “entering Nirvana” and a dead person as a “Buddha” – so what the fisher folk found in the fish’s stomach was the hair and nails and other indigestible parts of a human being, someone washed away along with the bamboo fence.

 

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

 

Lady Love would tear off                         3: 213                   
her sleeve for my muffler            
With this beloved
I’ll drink up the barrel
for my coffin

 

襟に 高雄 が / 片 袖 を とく
あだ 人と / 樽 を 棺に / 呑はさん


Eri ni Takao ga / kata sode o toku
Ada hito to / taru o hitsugi ni / nomuwasan

 

“Lady Love” is a courtesan who fulfills her job, to make her customer feel like he is the most important fellow in the world, and also order lots of expensive sake. He is even willing to die for such a lover – yet we must keep in mind that this is all pretense and acting. She no more loves him than she will love tomorrow’s customer. In fact, she abhors his gullibility and hates playing these stupid games with someone foolish enough to believe she will tear up a fantastically expensive kimono for him.

 

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

 

With one poppy petal
falling came Zen name 
Crescent moon                              3: 214
leaves the east dark
as the bell tolls

 

芥子の一重に / 名を こぼす禅

三ヶ月の /東は暗く / 鐘の声

Keshi no hitoe ni / na o kobosu zen
Mike-zuki no / higashi wa kuraku / kane no koe

 

The observation of a single petal falling from a poppy brought  him enlightenment, and he took his name

as a Zen monk from that incident. The slender crescent on the 3rd night of the lunar month rises from the east during the day and hardly can be seen. As the evening bell of the temple tolls, the crescent leaves the east dark as it visibly passes into the west. Several of Basho's verses on Zen portray the sky and celestial bodies; see Basho's Zen Poetry. In all of these verses, Basho's brings our attention to the vast panorama of sky and the even vaster panorama of time passing.  This is his Zen consciousness. 

 

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

 

No wind blows                      3: 218
on an autumn day with
no sake in jug 

 

かぜ吹かぬ / 秋の日瓶に / 酒なき日

Kaze fukanu / aki no hi kame ni / sake naki hi

 

The day is calm and peaceful, yet empty.

 

Kotatsu without a fire            3: 220
is the person no more

 

火をおかぬ 火燵 /無き人を見む
Hi o okanu kotatsu / naki hito o mimu

 

A kotatsu is a heater - electrical in our time, charcoal in Basho's - under a table with blanket all around. 

When a person dies, the spirit, the internal source of heat, leaves the body.  Life is thermodynamics. 

 

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

 

In a haze he worships
beauty of female form 
From the far north                         3: 258
the groom a frustrated
wordless butterfly                

 

美人の かたち / 拝む 陽炎
蝦夷の 婿 / 声 なき 蝶 と /身を 詫びて


Bijin no katachi / ogamu kagerō
Ezo no muko / koe naki chou to / mi o wabite

 

The family has adopted a son-in-law from the far northern island of Hokkaido where (from a mainland Japanese point of view) there are no attractive women – but many bears. He can barely speak a few words of Japanese so is frustrated in trying to communicate with his bride; he just stands there, “a wordless butterfly in a haze” gazing as the beauty he has been given. Miyawaki points out that she may not be “beautiful” to our standards but, compared to what he has seen before, she is Aphrodite.

 

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

 

Famous one in Kyoto

shall heal my tumor
Base of Fuji                                                 3: 259
wearing conical hat
rides a horse                                      

 

京に 名 高し / 瘤 の 呪う
富士の 根と / 笠 きて馬に / 乗りながら


Kyō ni na takashi / kobu no uranai
Fuji no ne ni / kasa kite uma ni / norinagara

 

Riding west past the 25-mile wide base of Mount Fuji to Kyoto where a sorceror who will use magic to remove the tumor. The round conical hats of East Asian farmers and travelers, worn to ward off rain and snow as well as sun and wind, have the same shape as Mount Fuji. I wear a conical hat and ride the horse so the conical mountain bounces up and down from the movement of my eyes on the horse.  This too is magic. 

 

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

 

Dew where the coffin                                3: 261
has soon disappeared                              
Torn apart
soldiers’ armor sent
to their country
After Korean campaign
tending vegetable fields

 

棺 いそぐ / 消がた の 露
やぶれたる / 具足 を 国 に / 送りけり
高麗のあがた に / 畠 作りて


Hayaoke isogu / kiegata no tsuyu
Yaburetaru / gusoku o kuni ni / okurikeri
Koma no agata ni / hatake tsukurite

 

“Dew” is the forces of time and weather that wear out and decay all things: all that remains where the coffin was. The coffin bearers carried it away, and it never again will be seen. The country where the battle took place and soldiers died does not destroy the old, damaged armor, and has no reason to keep it, so they send it to the country of the deceased. After coming home from the disastrous invasion of Korea, a soldier whose armor was not torn apart, lives in peace until he too disappears in a coffin.

 

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

 

Sake drinking auntie
is so very lonely –
In a letter
she tells all her grief
at playing dice                                                       3: 296

 

酒 飲む 姥 の / いかに さびしき
双 六の / 恨み を 文に / 書 尽し

 

Sake nomu uba no / ika ni sabishiki
Sugoroku no /urami o bun ni / kaki tsukushi

 

The old woman lives out her life with no purpose except to drink and writes in detail her misery gambling over dice.

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

 

Bone fragments in cascade                                 3: 299
transformed by morning sun
With reverence
on Buddha’s stone seat
blossoms eternal


舎利とる滝に / 朝日うつろう
畏まる/石の御坐の / 花久し

 

Shari toru taki no / asashi utsurou
Kashikomaru / ishi no omaji no / hana hisashi

 

Fire turns the bones of a Buddhist saint into sarira, the pearl or crystal-like bead-shaped objects found among the cremated ashes of Buddhist spiritual masters – however in his stanza, Basho seems to be looking at small round stones in the cascade; the clear water flowing over them shining in the morning sun makes them appear like sarira from the Buddha himself. Throughout the stanza, we keep on wondering what is real and what is illusion.

 

Cherry blossoms -  usually a symbol for transience because they appear for just one week and disappear so quickly, however here they represent eternity, for they keep on coming back every spring, always the same.

have fallen on the Buddha's seat of stone, blossoms giving reverence to stone, and stone giving reverene to blossoms.  Each stanza highlights transformation.

 

With this song                                                   3: 300
to women, silkworms
I have sent

 

歌よみて / 女に蚕ぽ / おくりけり
Uta yomite / onna ni kaiko / okurikeri

 

Basho sends this verse - in sprit or imagination -  to all women of the world along with silkworms,

a symbol for constant and flawless production of the highest quality of material.  We would not expect male scholars to see the feminism of this verse, but we can ourselves. 

 

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

 

Comes a dream
of woman cutting her
jet black hair
Love seen through,
morning glory moon                                       3: 310

 

鳥羽玉の / 髪 切る / 夢 に きて
恋 をみやぶる / 朝顔 の 月

 

Ubatama no / kami kiru onna / yume ni kite
Koi o miyaburu / asagao no tsuki

 

"Comes a dream" suggests that this is a 'sending' - a dream sent telepathically.  Disappointed in love, she has cut her hair and tells him this in her sending. The traditional way to interpret “cutting her hair” is as “becoming a nun” – although Shoko says “not necessarily.” In Japan, women cut a number of strands as a declaration of giving up the past to move into a new future. Basho makes her see through the false love she thought was real, realizing that such love disappears as surely as the moon fades into the morning sky and gorgeous blue and purple morning glories wilt to become refuse in the rain.

 

 

Your treasures shall be                                3: 330
a number of years

 

人のたからは / としの数なり
Hito no takara wa / toshi no kazu nari

 

Remember this.

 

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Basho Renku Section 2 (K-02 ) (K-04 ) Basho Renku Section 4 >>


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