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  >  New Articles  >  N-14


Women in Basho: 43 Basho Haiku A

日本語も Romanization given, so students of Japanese can learn from Basho

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

Basho haiku are not just concerned with flowers, insects, earth, and sky: no, Basho is the poet of humanity,

and his sketches of women and girls are masterpieces of this art form. 

 

Many specify “woman” or “wife” or “daughter,” in the poem or its headnote; some have background information indicating a woman; some portray feminine qualities such as nurturing: some are from a woman’s point of view; others have associations with women, and we could debate whether these associations do or do not indicate a woman. Even if a few are not really “about women,” the others are a magnificent expression of the “primordial power of the feminine emanating from Basho’s poetry.”


Meanwhile his renku on women are four times as many as these 42 haiku. women. No other male in world literature produced so much praise for women as did Basho. Since most scholars will refuse to agree with such a statement, as proof of authenticity, I provide the original Japanese and romanized Japanese. Commentaries for all verses containing more evidence of femininity can be found on my site: simply search for in the box at the upper right corner of the main page. Here, without commentaries, follow the words of Basho to realize his "clear respect, affection, and even reverence for women."

 

We begin with portraits of actual women at work, portraits of physical bodies doing physical activities and producing physical sensations.  

 


 

Wrapping rice cake,
with one hand she tucks
hair behind ear

 

粽ゆう / 片手にはさむ / 額髪
Chimaki yuu / katate ni hasamu / hitai-gami

 

 

 

Pounding cloth,
let me hear the sound
temple wife

 

砧 打ちて / 我に聞かせよ / 坊が妻
Kinuta uchite / ware ni kikase yo / bou ga tsuma

 

 

 

 

Tone so clear
the Big Dipper resounds
her mallet

 

声澄みて / 北斗にひびく / 砧かな
Koe sumite / hokuto ni hibiku / kinuta kana

 

 

 

Leaving azaleas
in a bucket, behind them
she tears dried cod

 

躑躅生けて / その陰に干鱈 / 割く女
Tsutsuji ikete / sono kage ni hidara / saku onna

 

 

 

Willow’s coolness
skewering small sea bream
fisherman’s wife

 

小鯛挿す / 柳涼しや / 海士が妻
Kodai sasu / yanagi suzushi ya / ama ga tsuma

 

 

 

An uba is a wet-nurse, and many of these women stayed on with the family to nurse later babies and work in and around the home. 

 

Threshing rice
the uba's good fortune,
chrysanthemums

 

稲こきの / 姥もめでたし / 菊の花.
Ine koki no / uba mo medetashi / kiku no hana

 

 

 

Drunk on blossoms
woman wearing a haori,
puts in a sword

 

花に酔えり / 羽織着て刀 / さす女
Hana ni yoeri / haori kite katana /sasu onna

 

 

 

In full blossom, yeah!
the priests floating along
while wives slither

 

盛りじゃ花に / 坐 浮 法師 / ぬめり妻
Sakari ja hana ni / sozoro uki houshi / numeri tsuma

 

 

 

A faded beauty
blossoms — in old age
her memories

 

姥桜 / 咲くや 老後の / 思い出
Uba-zakura / saku ya rougo no / omoi-ide

 

 

 

A "willow" can be a tree, or a slender woman with long straight hair. 

A warm wind
swaying side to side
willow hair

 

あち東風や / 面々さばき / 柳 髪
Achi kochi ya / men men sabaki / yanagi-gami

 

 

To caress
a tumor, willow
drooping low

 

腫物に /触る柳の / 撓え哉
Haremono ni / sawaru yanagi no / shinae kana

 

 

 

Green Willow
reaches down to mud
At low tide

 

青柳の / 泥にしだるる / 潮干かな
Aoyagi no / doro ni shidaruru / shiohi kana

 

 

Holding a lock of his dead mother’s hair:

 

Held in hand
to melt in my tears -
hot autumn frost

 

手に取らば / 消えん涙ぞ / 熱き秋の霜
Te ni toraba / kien namida zo / atsuki aki no shimo

 

 

 

Shown the remains of his umbilical cord kept as a momento.

 

My native place
over navel cord I weep
end of the year

 

旧里や / 臍の諸に泣く / 年の暮
Furu sato ya / heso no o ni naku / toshi no kure

 

 

Women washing taro,
if Saigyo could be here,
would sing the song

 

芋洗う 女 / 西行ならば / 歌よまん
Imo arau onna / Saigyou naraba / uta yoman

 

The wife of Ichiyu

 

Doorway curtain,
behind it, deep within
northside plum

 

暖簾の / 奥ものふかし / 北の梅
Nouren no / oku mono fukashi / kita no ume

 

 

 

To a woman named Butterfly who used to be a prostitute:

 

Orchid fragrance
upon wings of Butterfly
sniff the fragrance

 

蘭の香や / 蝶の翼に / 薫物す
Ran no ka ya / chou no tsubasa ni / takimono su

 

Going in snow
to buy rice, the bag
is her hood

 

米買ひに / 雪の袋 や / 投頭巾
Kome kai ni / yuki no fukuro ya / nagezukin

 

 

On the Journey to the Deep North, in his journal A Narrow Path in the Heartlands.

 

Transplanting rice seedlings to the rice paddy mud was the work of teenage and unmarried women, their fertility believed to transfer to the fields

One rice field

planted, now to leave
this willow

 

田一枚/ 植えて立ち去る / 柳かな
Ta ichimai / uete tachi saru / yanagi kana

 

 

 

Refinement’s
origin – in the heartlands
rice-planting songs

 

風流の / 初めや奥の / 田植歌
Fuuryuu no / hajime ya oku no / taue uta

 

 

Hands remove
rice-seedlings, long ago
rubbing on dye

 

早苗取る / 手元や昔 / しのぶ摺
Sanae toru / temoto ya mukashi / shinobu zuri

 

 

Basho wrote the following haiku on his journey to the Deep North, but did not include it in his journal; he did not even confirm that he wrote it.   Scholars consider the verse "authorship doubtful" because they cannot imagine Basho writing so erotic a haiku, but I can.  It has the physical body activity typical of Basho poetry on women.  Safflowers are crushed to produce the orange-red dye used to color a woman's under kimono. 

 

In the future
whose skin shall they touch?
these safflowers

 

行くすえは / 誰が肌ふれん / 紅の花
Yuku sue wa / taga hada furen / beni no hana

 

 

 

Gloomy Cove
in the rain Lady Seishi’s
eyebrow blossoms

 

象潟や /雨に西施が / 合歓の花
Kisagata ya / ame ni Seishi ga / nebu no hana

 

 

Hearing through the wall of his inn the voices of two indentured prostitutes from a brothel in Niigata on a spiritual pilgrimage to the Ise Shrine. 

Under one roof
even play-women sleep
bush clover and moon

 

一家に / 遊女も寝たり / 萩と月
Hitotsu ya ni / yuujo mo netari / hagi to tsuki

 

 

 

At a temple for the Goddess of Mercy, a place of pilgrimage for women:

 

Night in spring --
one hidden in mystery
temple corner

 

春の夜や / 籠り人ゆかし / 堂の隅
Haru no yo ya / komori hito yukashi / dou no sumi

 

Moon be sad -
of the wife of Akechi
let us speak

 

月さびよ / 明智が妻の / 話せん
Tsuki sabi yo / Akechi ga tsuma no / hanashisen



A lone nun’s
thatched hut so austere
white azaleas

 

独り尼 / 藁屋すけなし / 白躑躅
Hitori ama /waraya sukenashi /shiro tsutsuji

 

 

 

With the nun Chigetsu in Zeze where the famous poet-nun Shoushou lived centuries ago, Basho connects the present with the past. 


Now I speak
to the nun Shoushou,
village snow

 

少将の/ 尼の 咄や / 志賀の雪
Shoushou no / ama no hanashi ya / Shiga no yuki

 

 

 

In the following, Basho speaks of "seven Komachis" but I have changed this female literary reference  to the "seven ages" from Shakespeare;  I do this so you will get something from the verse. 

Harvest moon
facing the lake, seven
Ages of Woman

 

名月や / 海にむかえば / 七小町
Meigetsu ya / umi ni mukaeba / nana Komachi

 

 

 

Lightning flashes --
from the face of Komachi
tall plume grass

 

稲妻や/顔のところが / 薄の穂

Inazuma ya / kao no tokoro ga / susuki no ho

 

 

The next six haiku are about the death of a woman.  At the memorial for a follower’s mother

 

Offering water
for where thou goest
dried rice powder

 

水向けて / 跡訪ひたまへ / 道明寺

Mizu mukete / ato toi-tamae / dōmyōji

 

 

At a memorial for his follower Kikaku’s mother:

 

White flowers
without mother at home
seem so chilly

 

卯の花も / 母なき宿ぞ / 冷じき
Unohana mo / haha naki yado zo / susamajiki

 

On the death of Kyorai’s sister Chine:

 

Now the house robe
of the one who is gone
airing in the heat

 

無き人の / 小袖 も 今や / 土用干し
Naki hito no / kosode mo ima ya / doyouboshi

 

The grief of Rika for his wife:

 

How he huddles
under the futon, cold
horrible night

 

被き伏す / 蒲団や寒き / 夜やすごき
Kazuki-fusu /futon ya samuki / yo ya sugoki

 

 

Nodes of sorrow—
to become bamboo shoots
at her end

 

憂き節や /竹の子となる /人の果
Uki fushi y a / take no ko to naru / hito no hate

 

 

On Mount Abandon-Old-Women where this was done so there would be more food for children.

 

An apparition --
old woman alone weeping
friends with the moon

 

俤や / 姨ひとり泣く / 月の友
Omokage ya / oba hitori naku ya / tsuki no tomo

 

 

The next six poems were each written in Basho final spring, summer, and autumn

Nirvana ceremony –
between wrinkled hands
prayer beads click

 

涅槃会や / 皺手合する / 数珠の音
Nehan-e ya / shiwa te awasuru / juuzu no oto

 

 

Hidden by trees
those picking tea listen
ho toto GI su

 

木隠れて / 茶摘みも聞く ほととぎす
Ko-gakurete / chatsumi mo kiku ya/ hototogisu

 

 

 

Crone waves a fan
over the food she cooked
cool evening ease

 

飯あふぐ / 嬶が馳走や / 夕涼み
Meshi augu / kaka ga chisou ya / yuu suzumi

 

 

Basho had four sisters and one brother.

 

The whole family
white-haired and on canes
visits the graves

 

家はみな / 杖に白髪の / 墓参り
Ie wa mina / tsue ni shiroga no /haka mairi

 

 

To the woman Jutei who died:

 

“Of no account”
think not this of yourself
Festival of Souls

 

数ならぬ / 身とな思ひそ / 玉祭
Kazunaranu / mi to na omoi zo / tama matsuri

 

 

At the home of his woman follower Sonome was the final poetry gathering Basho attended: here is his greeting verse to the hostess. 

 

White chrysanthemum
no speck of dust rises
to meet the eye

 

白菊の / 目に立て見る / 塵もなし.
Shiro-giku no / me ni tate miru / kiri mo nashi

 

Two weeks later Basho died. 

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com

 

 

 






<< Anthropology (N-13 ) (N-16) Night Soil and New Life >>


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