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  >  New Articles  >  N-11


Dance with Basho

4 Renku on Dancing

Basho told his follower Doho:


Make renku ride the Energy

 

The “Energy” is the ki of Oriental medicine and martial arts; an active principle forming part of any living thing: literarily "breath", "air", or "gas", and figuratively as "material energy", "life force", or "energy flow" or "The Force" in Star Wars. A Japanese scholar says that ki here means “intuition” and also “breath,” and so Basho is saying: “Intuitively grasp the essential quality of the subject to write your poem in a single breath.” Each poet (after the first one) “rides the energy” from another mind to generate a new reality.


In the stanza-pair from the first sequence Basho participated in, the first poet offers an elegant image of Japanese classical dance, and Basho rides that energy into the world of children:


Hand of the dancer
quietly descends

More than appears
small child is obedient
to the Energy

 

The movement of the dancer’s hand expresses more, much more, than simply  getting from up to down;

it expresses the dancer’s obedience to ki. The hand rides the Energy downward, as a surfer stays on the board even as the board drops and rises. Likewise the small child may not follow adult commands, but is

obedient to that universal Energy. As the child at play “rides on the energy,” the poet follows and blends with the Energy to write his stanza.


A Google search of the words “ride the energy” leads to this by the American dancer and musician Gabrielle Roth (1941-2012):


Ride the energy of your own unique spirit.

 

Roth believed and taught that dance heals the body/mind/spirit:

 

If you just set people in motion, they’ll heal themselves.

 

In the 12th century the shogun Yoritomo sent henchman to capture his younger brother Yoshitsune, but unable to find him, they took Yoshitsune’s mistress, the dancer Shizuka, and brought her to Kamakura to dance for the bully-in-command.


Beneath her eyelids
overflow the stars

Forced to stand
against her will, she dances
so delicately

 

Starlight shines from Shizuka’s tears as she struggles to hold them back in defiance of that bastard Yoritomo. Basho continues with a remarkably active, motionful stanza. Yoritomo roughly yanks Shizuka to a stance and demands that she dance, renouncing her love for Yoshitsune. Shizuka mocks him by dancing

superbly while singing a song of her love for Yoshitsune. Shizuka stands up to Yoritomo’s patriarchy, dancing for the dignity of women.


Breaking off a lotus

to adorn a lovely girl

Iridescent
kingfisher alights
on dance stage

 

The kingfisher is a bright blue bird. Basho puts women on center stage; the girl becomes a stage where a flower, or a bird, descends gracefully and mysteriously as a classical dancer.


Youngest daughter hates
the mole on her face

Robe for dancing
aimlessly she folds it
inside the box

 

The mole does not interfere with her intelligence or motor ability, but everyone who meets her sees it,

and consciousness of this saps her self-confidence. Growing up together with sisters who have no moles, she hates the unfairness of this, but there is nothing she can do about it.

 

For kuyamu, the dictionary says “regret, be sorry for,” however I remember when my daughters were teenagers, they used “hate” for this sort of feeling. I told them this was too extreme and they should use a more moderate term, but they kept on using “hate.” Now I understand that for a teenage girl to say she

“hates” something is an expression of the teenage-girl qualities Shakespearean actress Janet Suzman describes in Juliet and Ophelia: “the appalling worries, the despair, how passionately one feels about every little thing.”


Someone who cares for the daughter’s happiness has given her a gorgeous robe for dancing in the local shrine festival, but she is too ashamed of her mole to show it to the whole town. Basho always focuses on simply physical activities – folding the robe inside the box – to convey complex emotional states In between the physical “youngest daughter” and “mole on her face” is the vivid emotion of “hates.” In between the physical “robe for dancing” and “she folds it inside the box” is the disappointment, frustration, hopelessness swirling about in “aimlessly.” The flow of energy from “hates” to “aimlessly” produces a masterpiece of ordinary uncomfortable teenage-girl experience.


When I first saw and translated this stanza-pair, in my mind lodged the idea that because of her mole the girl could not find a boy to go to the dance with, and I wrote up a commentary with this idea. The next day I remembered that Japanese in Basho’s time did not have boy-girl dances; dancing was done individually, or in a group of individuals – but the idea that Basho’s stanza was about girl who cannot find a boy to escort her to the dance remained in my head, so I was confused. I went to the Fukuoka City Library and consulted with a librarian to resolve my confusion. She went through the library data bank and brought out two books on Japanese dance, but I could see that these did not answer my question. I kept on asking her how could this stanza be about boy-girl dancing when Japanese did not have boy-girl dances. It took her quite a while to figure out what I was saying – since my notion was complete nonsense. Finally, she understood, and

said “I don’t think this is about girl who cannot find a boy to dance with; the girl is embarrassed to be seen by the townspeople.”


I was flabbergasted; my whole notion of boy-girl dancing instantly evaporated, and I saw exactly what Basho was saying. I have thought about this incident a great deal since then, and realized that whenever     I cannot understand a renku stanza, I assume that to understand I require some scholarly information,   but this is a misconception. Rather than needing scholarly information, I need to clear out the misconceptions from my mind, and then Basho’s meaning becomes altogether clear. I suggest that the same may be  true for you as well.


And yet there is still more to say: in the context of Basho’s time and society, the notion of a boy-girl dance does not belong to this stanza – however Basho’s words do not preclude such a dance. I believe we can bring Basho’s stanza to our time and society, and imagine the girl with a mole on her face unable to find a boy to take her to the dance, so she aimlessly folds the gorgeous dress in the box. This is Basho4Now.

Basho4Us. 

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com






<< Woman Having Fun: (N-10) (N-12) In a Hot Spring >>


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