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


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

Quotations from Basho Prose


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



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


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


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



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


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


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


"Link verses the way
children play."


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


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

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


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



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


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


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


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

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


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


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


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



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com

 



Home  >  Topics  >  Basho Renku, 芭蕉連句  >  K-08


Basho Renku Section 8

Renku from 1692 and part of 1693 with commentaries and 日本語の原文

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

Renku benefits from the realization of ordinary words

 

俳諧の益は俗語を正すなり
Haikai no eki wa zokugo o tadasu nari

 

Basho says stay away from difficult and confusing words and grammar.

Use ordinary words and phrases in a way that realizes them, makes them come alive.

 

First of all, the physical form must be graceful
Then a musical quality makes a superior verse

 

体格はまづ優美にして、一曲あるは上品なり
Teikaku wa mazu yuubi shite, ikkyoku wa johin nari

 

To be “graceful” and have “a musical quality,” the rhythm of beats must be consistent.  The syllables expand or contract, plus there are silent pauses, to produce a four-beat rhythm; such is the rhythm of every one of my translations.

 

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

 

Only a slow gentle
tapping on the back
Realized but                                                 8:
unspoken, with that one,
love cannot be

 

ただそろそろと /背中打する
打ち明け / いはれぬ人を / おもひ兼ね

 

Tada soro soro to / senaka utasuru
Uchiake iwanu / hito o omoikane

 

Kyorai begins this pair with a completely physical and body-focused stanza;Basho sees the

interpersonal emotions suggested by that physical-ness. In time, Basho’s stanza comes first. The

subject realized the potential for true love was there, but was too embarrassed or shy to say anything

to the other, so the opportunity was lost. Sick with disappointment, he or she hugs mother who

gently taps on the back; the physical sensations comfort the mind steeped in misery and

hypotheticals.

 

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

 

Regular dinner                          8: 15
served to each person
respectfully
Breaking up large bills              8: 15
coins neatly stacked

 

本線が/ 出れば各々 / かしこまり
金を崩して / 銭をつみ置

 

Honzen ga / dereba ono ono / kashikomari
Kane o kuzushite / zeni o tsumi-oki

 

Everyone is served the same meal; there is no individuality, no dietary preferences; everybody eats the same. A waiter or waitress serves each and every person respectfully. Someone is changing bills to coins and stacking them so each has the same number of coins and they rest one and top of another without any edges sticking out. Basho seems to be saying that Japanese society makes everybody the same, like myriad stacks of ten 100-yen coins forever and ever, and does so respectfully.

 

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

Wind from the pines
blows steadily on and on
past midnight
”There’s an abandoned child”      8: 16 
reports the gatekeeper

 

松風のずんずんとふく夜中過
捨子があると告げる門番

 

Matsukaze no / zunzun to fuku / yonaka sugi
Sutego ga aru to / tsugeru monban

 

Shiko sets the time, the place, and the weather –the wind blows zun zun, continuously, not so strong a wind, but it never lets up. Nowhere does Shiko say anything about human life. Basho follows with an abundance of humanity – not only the child and the gatekeeper, but also the one who left the child outside the temple or mansion and snuck away in the dark, and the narrator, either a priest or owner of the mansion woken up by the gatekeeper Who abandoned this child? Why? Will the priest or mansion owner take in the child? We contrast the inconstancy of the parents with the steadiness of the chilly wind.

 

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

 

Basho wrote these two stanzas in succession.

 

 No longer black               8: 26a

she scratches her scalp
with shamisen pick
Breastfeeding on my lap         8: 26b 
what dreams do you see?

 

くろからぬ / 頭かきたる /柘の撥
乳をのむ膝に 何を夢みる


Kurokaranu / atama kakitaru / tsuge no bachi
chi o nomu hiza ni / nani o yume miru

 This woman has both grey hair and an infant at her breast, so may be a grandmother who, after her daughter died, induces lactation to save the life of the baby. “She scratches her scalp” in difficulty understanding or accepting her fate: the death of her daughter, the three needs conflicting within her: to nurture the infant, to continue her adult life, and to rest her aging body. The ever-present conflict of these needs drives her to distraction – and so she absent-mindedly uses her plectrum to scratch an itch under her hair. She looks into baby’s eyes and forehead searching to see the dreams within. Unlike her own dreams gone sour, these dreams are fresh and new – and she wonders whether her grandchild will overcome the hardship of losing mother to realize those dreams.

 

A bit later Basho wrote another stanza which I have taken the liberty to connect with the second of the two above: 

 

Only my face                8: 27
by rice-seedling mud
is not soiled --
Breastfeeding on my lap         8: 26b 
what dreams do you see?

 

 

顔ばかり/ 早苗の泥に / よごされず
乳をのむ膝に 何を夢みる


 

kao bakari / sanae no doro ni / yogosarezu
chi o nomu hiza ni / nani o yume miru

 

 This young peasant woman emerges from the pond of knee-deep sludge to nourish her child from her breasts. Her entire body is soiled and roughened by everyday dirt and mud, with only hard mineral-laden water for washing ― yet she tries to keep her face clean and pretty, for baby to behold. Has any other male poet produced so exquisitely feminine a poem? Feminine in concern for facial beauty and cleanliness, the femininity of women at work, women with breasts, women nourishing life, and women’s hopes for children’s future, all wrapped up in five short lines.

 

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

 

Turning below the hill
I see a waterfall
Where his arrow                                             8: 38
will go, the hunter
waves his hand

 

曲げれば坂の下にみる滝
猟人の矢先逃げよと手をふりて


Magereba saka no shita ni miru taki
Kariudo no yasaki nige yo to te o furite

 

Jokushi’s stanza is refreshing; a traveler has freedom to move through space (notice how every word is spatial) and enjoy the view. Basho, in a remarkable twist, adds tension to the scene. The pool also attracts animals and a hunter who aims to shoot one. With his hand he waves the traveler away from the water.

The tension is between the traveler who loves freedom and is refreshed by nature and the armed hunter who prohibits freedom and kills nature.

 

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

 

Being green                              8:45   (Haiku)                                
is alright yet peppers                                               
become red
Heaviness in my hand
a new hoe in autumn

 

青くても / 有るべきものを / 唐辛子
提げておもたき / 秋の新鍬

 

Aokute mo aru beki mono o tougarashi
Sagete omotaki aki no ara kuwa

 

Green peppers are only green because they were picked before they turned red. They are altogether fine to eat, yet are immature fruits, full of chlorophyll for growing. As they get red they become healthier: vitamin C content doubles, vitamin A content is eight times higher, and beta carotene nearly triples. The immature state is “alright” but nature (i.e. DNA) has more in store for this pepper. Basho opened a renku sequence with this hokku which contains a personal message to his current house guest Shado: “You write good verses, but still you are a ‘green horn.’ Naturally, as time goes by, you will mature.” Shado responded, “Though I try to be light, I feel a heaviness in my poetry.”

 

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

 

She grabs some bran to
wash oil from her hands
If only he had         8: 47
such a heart of love,
the bill collector 

 

ふすま掴むで / 洗う油手
掛乞えに /恋のこころを / 待たせや

 

Fusuma tsukamu de / arau abura te
Kakekoe ni / koi no kokoro o / mateseba ya

 

The hairdresser removes oil from her hands by absorbing in rice bran, then washing away. Basho jumps from this touchy-feely interaction of oil, powder, and hands to the man who collects installments due for things bought on credit. He handles no hair, oil, or bran; only money. We might even say he has a “heart of money.” Basho says he needs “a heart of love” -- more involvement with physical stuff we can feel and move around with our hands.

 

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

 

With her wide
open eyes she can get
a thousand koku
Before he vanishes          8: 49
she grabs his stirrup

 

目の張に / まず千石は /してやりて
きゆる計に / 鐙をさゆる

 

Me no hari ni / mazu senkoku wa / shite yarite
Kiyuru bakari ni / abumi o sayuru

 

She uses her lovely eyes to charm a man. She is the center of the scene, the man a mere object of her desire and action. A koku is about 150 kilograms of rice, used as a standard for measuring wealth; “a thousand koku” means that this samurai’s yearly stipend from the government is so-so, not great, but livable. Basho continues this narrative; her chance for a thousand koku is about to ride off into the distance, so he grabs the ring hanging from the saddle where his foot rests. Do not go, thousand koku. please do not vanish. I love this woman; she is so vital and active. She knows what she wants and she acts to get it.

 

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

 

Spring arrives late in
sacred Nachi Mountains,
New Year’s Arrow:             8: 50
all the young sons try
to shoot the best

 

那智の御山の / 春おそき空
弓はじめ / 過ぎる 立てたる / 息子哉

 

Nachi no o-yama no / haru osoki sora
Kyuu hajime / sugiru tatetaru / musuko kana

 

The Nachi mountains near Kumano are famous for warrior disciplines such as archery in weather so cold you can barely feel your fingertips on the bowstring. Archery competitions are a New Year’s ritual, and for boys coming of age, a manhood ritual. (Sort of like ‘who can pee the furthest?’). In the link between the two stanzas, we feel the early spring urging to become full spring as one with the urging of prepubescent boys to full masculinity

 

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

 

From traces of my passing
come the bells and drums
Mountain ascetics'                                   8: 52 
heads cut off and hung
before the gate

 

我が跡からも / 鉦鞁うち来る
山伏を/ 切ってかけたる/ 関の前

 

Waga ga ato kara mo / shouko uchikuru
Yama bushi o / kitte kaketaru / seki no mae

 

Behind me on the road are pilgrims striking bells and drums while chanting the nenbutsu prayer for salvation. So the pilgrims come from the “traces” I left on the road. Basho leaps to the Noh play Ataka where Yoshitsune and his followers avoid capture by pretending to be mountain ascetics on a pilgrimage. 

At a barrier gate they see on display before the gate the severed heads of three ascetics executed the day before. So Yoshitsune and his followers travelled in the “traces” of those who died yesterday.

 

It is recorded that Basho, after he wrote this stanza, regretted his use of such brutal imagery.

 

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

 

That clique of
smart-ass co-workers
hates on her
Cinder burns her hem          8: 79
so she rubs it out
才ばりの /傍輩中に /憎まれて
焼き焦がしたる / 小妻もみ消す

 

Saibari no / houbaichuu ni / nikumarete
Yaki kogashitaru / kozuma momi kesu

 

A group of female servants is working together in the kitchen around the wood-burning stove. The underhand cruelty of teenage girls who think they are so great to one who does not fit in with their clique. She responds to a physical problem – a cinder from the fire burns a hole in the hem of her house robe – with simple direct action that immediately puts it out. She does not fuss over the bit of burning matter, or complain about it, or get angry at it. She simply crushes it between her thumb and forefinger; cool and calm, with her attitude, she “rubs it out.” 

 

I pray that you who are bullied find some wisdom in this stanza-pair so with your attitude you rub out the power of the bullying to upset you. 

 

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

 

Everyone of you            8: 115
in nadeshiko time
Starting to weep
earthenware trembles
in your weakness

 

君はみなみななでしこの時
泣き出して土器ふるふ身のよわり

 

Kimi wa minamina / nadeshiko no toki
nakidashite/ kawarake furufu / mi no yowari

 

The flower nadeshiko, a type of carnation, has, since ancient times, been associated with Japanese femininity and youthfulness; because of what men want, the word came to imply submission to patriarchy – but now with Nadeshiko being the name of the Japan Woman’s Soccer (football) team that won the 201l World Cup, it can suggest “strong, bold, intelligent.” Here is a Basho stanza for all who are young and female, with a follower’s reminder of what comes 50 years later. We notice that Basho focuses on youth and aliveness, but his follower switches to old age and weakness.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Rarely emerging                              8: 116
from mountain shadow,
a cow pisses
Lacquered sheaths dewy
boys’ swords hang low

 

山陰をまれに出たる牛のバリ
梨地露けき児子のさげ鞘

 

Yama kage o / mare ni idetaru / ushi no pari
Nashiji tsuyukeki / chigo no sage saya 

 

A bunch of young boys, who rarely leave their village in the shadow of a mountain, are off on a quest one morning, ready for adventure: this is when they see the cow peeing. An adult samurai carries his sword in an elegantly lacquered sheath which hangs from his waist. These are little boys with short legs and stick-of-wood swords, so the “lacquer” on the bottom of the “sheath” brushes against the dewy grass. The stream of piss from cow to wet ground resembles the “sword” from boy to wet ground.

 

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

 

For a moment
bridge of clouds reaches 
harvest moon
This year’s rice carried         8: 117
on his back, he is happy

 

名月に / 雲井の橋の / いちまたげ
今年の米を / 背負う嬉しき

 

Meigetsu ni kumoi no hashi no ichi matage
Kotoshi no kome o / se ou ureshiki

 

A banks of clouds forms an arch over the moon, then changes and the “bridge” is gone: ephemerality is the core of Buddhist thought. From that ethereal, lifeless vision of impermanence in the night sky, Basho jumps down to earth with ordinary male life. Tall stalks of golden rice grains are harvested in autumn, but furious early autumn typhoons may destroy the crop in one night. Here is the satisfaction of a man with his harvest safe on his back, knowing he will have food this winter. He is so down-to-earth, walking on the ground, the bag of rice weighing on his shoulders – in vivid constant to the arch of cloud straddling the moon for an instant then disappearing.

 

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

 

Folding the robe she wore,
placing irises in the folds --
San the daughter's
name, afterwards, her,  
thoughts of love
たたむ衣に菖蒲折置
さんという娘は後のものおもひ


Tatamu koromo ni / shoubuu ori oku
San to iu musume wa / ato no mono omoi

 

This is what she wore when she was with him. Irises are folded into clothing in storage to keep away bugs, but her feelings here are more romantic. Hidden in the link is the teenage girl's experience of first love.

 

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

 

By moonlight washing hair
with rice bran lather
Lighting lantern             8: 138
and providing mallets
to the children

 

月夜に髪を /あらう揉み出し

火とばして / 砧あたがう /子供達

Tsukiyo ni kami o / arau momidashi

Hi tobashite / kinuta atagau / kodomotachi

 

Mother works from sun up to sun down; finally she takes a break in the evening to wash her long black locks. Beside the well, she rubs a cotton bag of wet rice bran powder between her hands; the saponin or soap-like foam that emerges through the permeable fabric has been used for shampoo, as well as face and body wash, since ancient times. Rice bran is rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals which moisturize and strengthen hair, protect it from ultraviolet rays, and prevent hair loss.

 

She can be an individual mother giving her daughters work, or a symbol for all mothers passing on the torch to their daughters, first the older, then the younger. She gives them Light – a bit of the Sun emerging from a lantern – and Work, the long tradition of females working day and night without complaint, simply working, generation after generation, providing for the future, only taking time off to care for their hair.

 

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

 

Inkstone forbidden
love restrained increases
Rainy night                                      8: 149
one at the window
is consoled

 

硯法度と / 恋やせかるる
夜の雨 / 窓のかたにて /なぐさまん

 

Suzuri hatto to / koi yasekaruru
Yoru no ame / mado no kata nite / nagusaman

 

With love remaining for a man committed  to another, she forbids herself access to her inkstone for fear she will lose control and write a letter to him, revealing her secret. She holds back her desire which gathers like water against a dam. Basho switches to the heavy constant rain that falls in the Japanese night. She sits at the window – which we are free to imagine with glass - and stares into the darkness and rain. Somewhere in those primeval phenomena, she finds consolation.

 

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

 

The boss pretends
not to see their love
yet he knows
Figures half hidden                       8: 153
beneath the umbrella

 

見ぬふりの /主人に恋を /しられけり
すがた半分 / かくす傘

 

Minufuri no / shujin ni koi o / shirarekeri
Sugata hanbun / kakusu karakasa

 

Walking together in town, the lovers are surprised to see, and be seen by, “the boss.” He is cool and says nothing, but her heart shrinks with haji -- shyness, bashfulness, embarrassment. She clutches the handle to make the umbrella cover as much as possible without any movements that might attract the boss’s attention. Miyawaki Masahiko, says, “Probably no other following stanza so well expresses the sense of shame felt when one’s love becomes known to others.”  He is Japanese, writing in Japanese, for Japanese readers, yet what about you in all sorts of different societies with different attitudes toward love, do you, or did you long ago, feel “shame” when together with a sexual partner you are seen by an authority figure who gets the picture?

 

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

 

Even monks                                                8: 172
and old men regardless
forced to march
Earth pounded into mochi,                         8: 173
a poor ritual offering

 

坊主とも / 老いともいはず /追立歩
土の餅つく / 神事おそろし

 

Bouzu tomo / oi tomo iwazu / oi-tate-bu
tsuchi no mocha / shinji osoroshi

 

All the men, even bald monks and grandpas, were conscripted into the armies. No one was able to grow much food so there was famine. Without enough rice, people mixed in dirt with glutinous mochi to make the sacred rice-cake offerings to the divine spirits -- who will e dissatisfied and continue to send us this endless war. For what? So some man somewhere can feel he is top dog.

 

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

 

Teahouse second story                          8: 193
sake's blossom tower
Her beautiful
face has known more years
than she is tall
Hand that plays the koto
writes letter of regret
Cherries in bloom                              8: 194 
again she climbs the hill
to his grave

 

茶屋の二階は酒の 櫻閣
美しき顔も丈よりとしふけて
恨みの文をつくる琴の手
花咲けば又来てのぼる塚の上

 

Chaya no nikai wa / sake no sakura kaku
utsukushiki / kao mo take yori / toshi fukete
urami no bun o / tsukuru koto no te
hana sakeba / mata kite noboru / tsuka no ue

 

Most houses of this time were one-story, so being on a large and sumptuous second story, along with sake, makes Basho feel “high.” The only women at a teahouse party would be servants, performing artists, or courtesans, and the latter is assumed here. Girls as young as ten were sold to the brothel or “tea-house” to be maids or waitresses until puberty, then forced to sleep with a different man every night; in spite of their luxury and gorgeous kimono, these girls were slaves. This one has yet to attain her full height, so must be a teenager, though her face has aged from the misery she has experienced in this “teahouse.” Both her beauty and her suffering go into the notes she plays on the harp, and both go into the letter she writes. From that blend of music and feeling, Basho further probes the human heart. Each year in cherry blossom season, she comes here to climb the hill of her grief.

 

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

 

With her heart? she writes
his name in cursive script
Turning aside                                 8: 217
From lantern, faces hide
From each other

 

心もあるか仮名に名を書く
行燈をへでてて顔をかくし合

 

Kokoro mo aru ka / kana ni na o kaku 
andou o / hedatete kao o / kakushi ai

 

She writes his name (either with a brush or with her finger) in hiragana, the cursive phonetic Japanese writing used by women; ordinarily a man’s name would be written in formal Chinese characters. So long as his name is in kanji, he remains in the male world; by writing it in kana, she brings him into her world. She cannot possess him now, but by forming his name in feminine cursive style, she does possess his name “with her heart.”

 

Basho brings boy and girl together with the shame (or shyness or embarrassment) many humans feel with the opposite gender. The two turn away from the lantern so neither face is illuminated, and maneuver so neither clearly seen by the other. So often the words “hide” or “hidden” appear in Basho poetry.

 

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

 

Without a man
she cannot keep screens
looking like new
Tears on the brazier                             8: 223
drying her handkerchief

 

男なき/ 妹がすだれを /もりかねて
なみだ火桶に /はなかみを干す

 

Otoko naki / imo ga sudare o / mori-kanete
Namida hioke ni / hanakami o hosu

 

“Keeping up the bamboo screens” is an expression for keeping the entire house neat and new-looking. Everything costs money, every job requires time and energy; without her husband’s strength and the income he provided, as she grows older, it becomes more and more difficult to stop things in the house from showing their age. She sits close to the wooden fire box with a metal container for coals; her tears falling on the wooden surface while more tears evaporate from the handkerchief she holds out to the heat.

 

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

 

Taro patch torn up,
the wild boar returns
Child of poverty                              8: 229
learns to wait for love
in the autumn wind

 

のだ打つ猪の / 帰る芋畑
賤の子が / 待恋習う / 秋の風

 

Noda utsu shishi no / kaeru im-batake
Shizu no ko ga / matsu koi narau /aki no kaze

 

The tuber taro grows in patches of enormous flappy leaves shaped like elephant-ears. The wild boars, a stout and ungentle beast with vicious tusks, boar really wants the underground starchy corms – however the leaves get in the way. The mess of ragged and torn elephant-ear leaves suggests, to Basho, the turmoil in the heart of one who waits in vain for love. His stanza -- with or without the wild boar one -- goes out to all impoverished youths who learn to wait for love in a thin jacket allowing in the chill wind.

 

The window slightly
open, New Years Day
 With my cat                                           8: 233
the neighbor’s cat does it --
crying pitifully

 

窓のほそめに開く歳旦
我猫に野等猫とおる泣き詫びて

 

Mado no hodome ni hiraku saitan
Waga neko ni nora neko tooru naki wabite

 

New Years Day (usually in February) is still too cold for opening the window, but we open it slightly to let in the New Year’s Sun. Also through the window in early spring  comes the sound of a tough male cat who survives in the wild having sex with my tame female.

 

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

 

Oh my dear, remember?                8:251
my name as a baby 
Your flower face
is made to cry
in brothel by the bay

 

我がおさな名を / 君はしらずや
花の顔 / 室の湊に / 泣かせけり

 

Waga osana na o / kimi shirazu ya
Hana no kao / muro no minato ni / nakase keri

 

I am surprised to meet you, a young woman who grew up together with me in my hometown, after so many years have passed. Oh my dear, one so close to me that you know the affectionate name my mother or nurse called me while I suckled and later as a child. Basho’s rhetorical question takes us both back to that paradise of innocence in our shared childhood.

 

Rotsu jumps ahead fifteen years to see where those years have brought “your flower face” - to the misery of slavery in a brothel near a harbor where you have to deal with especially rough, dirty men. You, the sweet little girl I knew as a baby, now as I look into your face, still lovely but fading, I see how often and much you cry.

 

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

 

Granddaddy’’s ball sack
sticks to the brushwood
All the children                                  8: 260
the “God of Poverty”
they call this

 

祖父のふぐり / 柴にとりつけ
子ども / 皆貧乏神と / 名をよびて

 

Jiiji no fuguri / shiba ni toritsuke
Kodomo mina / bimbou-gami to / na o yobite

 

“Granddaddy’s ball sack” is the egg sack of the praying mantis, which the mother mantis attaches to brushwood. It has a shriveled appearance which to a child might look like an old man’s testicles so scrawny and miserable that the highly imaginative kids call it bimbou gami the name of that skinny dirty old man spirit who brings people hardship and misery.

 

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

 

Known by sight
she got together with
packhorse driver
Soon as she marries                            8: 278
she pulls the clappers

 

見知られて/ 近付成し /木曽の馬士
嫁入するより / はや鳴子引

 

Mishirarete / chikazuki narishi / Kiso no mago
Yome risuru yori / haya naruko hiki

 

Growing up in a crude and backward village in the Kiso mountains, she occasionally saw him drive a packhorse carrying goods, and he saw her. When she ripened, they “got together.” “Clappers” are noisemakers hung over a field of ripening grain with a string attached, so they can be pulled to scare away hungry birds – however the birds simply fly to the next field and wait for the puller to leave. When you marry a packhorse driver in Kiso, you get little romance but much futility.

 

 

As the owl
comes out from hiding
to grasp love
Tears we compare to                          8: 318
horse chestnuts falling

 

梟の /身をもかくさぬ / 恋をして
なみだくらべん / 橡落ちる也

 

Fukurou no / mi o mo kakusanu / koi o shite
Namida kuraben / tochi ochiru nari

 

“The daughter in a box” hides in her house, as an owl in the forest, occasionally heard but never seen, until she emerges swiftly on silent wings to “grasp” love. Basho is pessimistic: she will only find sorrow. Horse chestnuts are large, bulky, and misshapen.

 

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

 

Waking from sleep
his finger movements
play the flute
Good practice together                      8: 321
at older brother’s knee

 

寐覚にも / 指をうごかす /ひと切れ

中能ちなむ / 兄が膝元

 

Nezame ni mo / yubi o ugokasu / hitoyogire
Naka yoku chinamu / ani ga hiza moto

 

An adolescent boy has practiced the bamboo flute hour after hour, embedding the complex finger patterns into his brain circuitry. When he awakens in the night, still half-asleep, his fingers move spontaneously, as if on the holes of his flute. He expands the flute theme to two brothers, older and younger, who have practiced together for days, months, years, sitting in seiza, proper sitting position, beside each other, so their knees line up, while the notes they each play also line up. (Is Basho thinking about his relationship with his older brother Hanzaemon? Maybe.) Basho focuses on the harmony between two flutes played by boys sharing the same genes, same home, same upbringing, that somehow comes from the same deep mind that produced the unconscious finger movements.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com 

 

 






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The Three Thirds of Basho

 

 

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

 

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


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

Quotations from Basho Prose


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



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


All the more joyful,
all the more caring


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



Basho Spoken Word


Only this, apply your heart
to what children do


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


"Poetry benefits
from the realization
of ordinary words."


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


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


"Link verses the way
children play."


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


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

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


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



Haiku of Humanity


Drunk on sake
woman wearing haori
puts in a sword


Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner


Wrapping rice cake
with one hands she tucks
hair behind ear


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


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


Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet


Huddling
under the futon, cold
horrible night


Jar cracks
with the ice at night
awakening



Basho Renku
Masterpieces

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


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


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


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



Single renku stanzas


Giving birth to
love in the world, she
adorns herself



Autumn wind
saying not a word
child in tears


Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus


Easing in
her slender forearm
for his pillow


Two death poems:


On a journey taken ill
dreams on withered fields
wander about

Clear cascade -
into the ripples fall
green pine needles




basho4humanity
@gmail.com




Plea for Affiliation

 

Plea For Affiliation

 

I pray for your help

in finding someone
individual, university,

or foundation - 
to take over my

3000 pages of material,   
to cooperate with me 

to edit the material,
to receive all royalties 

from sales, to spread

Basho’s wisdom worldwide,
and preserve for

future generations.


basho4humanity

@gmail.com