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  >  Women in Basho  >  L-05


Pregnancy to Birth

Basho explores the creation of life

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

“Birthing is the most profound initiation to spirituality a woman can have.” - Robin Lim. 
 Giving birth to / love in the world she / adorns herself - Basho     


Pregnancy and Birth 

 

 

For you, my dear,
a red silk underskirt
of crimson leaves
Vows made, in autumn
she became pregnant

 

君 ここ に /もみじのニ布の /下紅葉

契り秋は / 産妻なりけり

 

Kimi koko ni / momiji no futano no / shita momiji

Chigirishi aki wa / ubume narikeri

 

A woman is given a crimson slip to wear under her kimono – however we suspect this is her wedding night and the “red silk underskirt” her bleeding after first sex. Basho confirms this suspicion.

 

A vow is a solemn promise to remain faithful. In many societies, including Japan, vaginal blood is considered defiling, however Shinsho and Basho portray the bloody scene without disgust or contempt, as natural and life-giving. Both virgins and experienced women may find much to consider in the link between these two stanzas.


Air shimmers,
building Lord’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.

 

Sister from the Capital

here to have her baby
Weaving folded,
at back door she lights
flower incense

 

都の妹が子を / うみに来る

機たたむ / 妻戸に花の / 香を焼きて

 

Miyako no imo ga / ko o umi ni kuru

Hata tatamu / tsumado ni hana no / ko o yakite

 

Basho fulfils the theme of pregnancy with the specific actions of this woman with swollen belly. She weaves yarn on a loom, then folds the fabric neatly so later she can sew clothing for her baby. Next, she goes

from the hearth to the back door with a bit of fire to light a cone of incense; because the kitchen in a wooden and wood-burning farmhouse produces and contains many odors. Weaving fabric for baby clothes, spreading sweet aroma throughout the kitchen, she generates positive energy for the new life: the ordinary but eternal work of women to keep children warm and home fragrant. How Basho must have watched his mother and four sisters -- one older and three younger -- to absorb their household feelings.

 

When he was six, old enough to observe the world and understand some of what he saw, his mother was pregnant with his youngest sister Oyoshi. Decades later, his older brother Hanzaemon and wife had no living children, so they adopted Oyoshi and her husband to inherit the household. While her sisters married into other families, she remained in her native home, and there became pregnant and gave birth. Basho lived at home till he was 28, and returned throughout the rest of his life, so he may have seen Oyoshi pregnant. He mentions her four times in his letters, but no other sister gets even one mention. His mother and Oyoshi may have been the models Basho followed when he portrayed women.


The first stanza is about pregnancy -- when the cells of the embryo weave together into a fetus, which folds up into three, waiting to be born and sewn into an individual. Lighting incense is like spreading consciousness through the synapses of developing brain. Whether Basho thought of these links, or did not, we can. He may have, by following reality, produced feminine truths he himself did not realize. Or maybe because he was a man who observed his mother and his sister pregnant, he had access to feminine insights many other men lack. Scholars in the past not seeing the poem this way does not mean we cannot. Of course those who have been, or can become, pregnant will understand a verse about pregnancy in ways most men cannot.


Basho sees the pregnant woman in the place she herself was born, prepare her body and spirit for delivery through physical work; she moves her body back and forth, up and down, around her swollen belly. Dr. Yoshimura Takashi, whose birth center near Nagoya has delivered babies since 1961, concludes that the

strength and flexibility Edo-era women gained from everyday physical work makes childbirth easy: he says, “When the muscles are strong and flexible, the baby just slides out.” Pregnant women gather at the traditional Japanese house behind his clinic to do work in the form of yoga – sawing wood, polishing doors,

building fires – moving their swollen bellies back and forth, then sit at the sunken hearth, eating rice and vegetables and sharing their experiences of pregnancy. As I read this stanza pair, I feel that Basho would approve of Dr. Yoshimura’s method – and when I showed this stanza-pair and this commentary to him, I saw tears in his eyes.


Maybe instead of just sitting there, the Mona Lisa should do some work . Leonardo da Vinci biographer Sherwin Nuland tells us that Lisa Gherardini,age sixteen, became the third wife of a 35-year-old Italian nobleman. “Mona” means “Mrs.” She sat for da Vinci from 1501-05 when she was 22 to 26 years old. Nuland presents the theory of Leonardo scholar Kenneth Keele, a practicing surgeon (note that), trained to observe the human body, who looks at this woman and sees pregnancy.


“…the position of the hands and their apparent slight puffiness may explain the absence of rings

on the fingers of a prosperous marriedwoman. The location of the hands and the draping of the clothes suggest to Dr. Keele that an enlarged abdomen is being subtly obscured by both artist and subject.”

 

Behind those mysterious shining hands is a new life. The Mona Lisa being pregnant does explain the famous enigmatic smile, in Nuland’s words, “the smile of inner satisfaction that the miracle of life is being

created within her body.” Male scholars, unable to see Mrs. Lisa’s swollen belly and pudgy fingers ― even after a surgeon identifies them, even though the actual woman probably was pregnant for some of those five years−have invented an array of far-fetched, intellectual interpretations for the Mona Lisa. Dr. Keele looks at, actually looks at, the woman in the painting to see HER reality, instead of the abstractions of art professors, philosophers, and psychologists. Likewise, to understand Basho poetry, we forego the scholars’ philosophical and religious concepts to instead focus on his actual words, so simple and bodily, telling the real life of women in 17th century Japan.

 

With iron bow
go forth to confront
the brutal world
Tigress at daybreak
yearns to be pregnant

 

鉄 の/ 弓 取 猛き/ 世に 出 よ

虎 懐 に / 妊る あかつき

 

Kurogane no / yumi tori kakeki / yo ni ide yo
Tora futokoro ni / yadoru 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 plot line 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.


Day in spring
birth room attendants’
long tedium
One by one they eat
warm water over rice

 

春の日に / 産屋の伽の /つつくりと

かはりがはりや / 湯漬くうらん

 

Haru no hi ni / ubuya no togi no / tsutsukuri to

Kawari-gawari ya / yu-tsuke kuuran

 

As the sun returns to our side of the planet, the days grow long – as long as the interminable periods the birth attendants endure waiting for their mistress to give birth. As young Japanese women, they go to great

lengths to accomplish perfectly the work they have been assigned. Here there is nothing they can do, so

they remain in constant readiness to perform whatever the midwife requires. They cannot go out for lunch, and even to prepare a meal here is unacceptable; it would show a lack of readiness and diligence.

 

But after all these hours they have to put something in their bellies. So they pour hot water on rice and eat as is; because this involves no boiling, mixing, or seasoning, it does not count as “preparing a meal.” If one of them did anything to improve the taste, she would stand out, which is unacceptable in Japanese society.

One by one, each woman takes a two-minute break to swallow her warm tasteless mush, while the rest remain on full alert. So the spring day passes in tedium -- until the baby comes out.


Showing no signs
of being busy, the shop
of a herbalist
Three years have passed
yet bride has no child

 

いそがしき /体 にも 見えず / 木 薬 や

三年 立ど/ 嫁 が 子 の なき

 

Isogashiki / tei ni mo miezu / kigusuri ya

Sannen tatedo / yome ga ko no naki

 

A rather laid back scene; the shop of a herbalist with shelves holding thousands of remedies and supplements -- yet no customers. The place is so laid back that no one does much of anything. The oldest son, heir to the household and business, has not in three years managed to impregnate his young bride. This is serious business. Women in Japan might be divorced for not producing a child within three years – however the problem may be with his contribution. Why haven’t they used the right herbal remedies from the shelves to fix up him or her? Come on, you two! We need that heir!


Calculating
how to get through life
in the Capital
They send no notice of
daughter’s joyful birth

 

算用に / 浮世を立つ /京ずまい

又沙汰なしに / 娘産む(よろこぶ)


Sannyo ni / ukiyo o tatsu / kyou zumai

Mata sata nashi ni / musume yorokobu

 

(In Yaba's stanza, the character is umu, "to give birth" but has the pronunciation yorokobu, "to feel joy,"

added on.)  Basho notes that from the villages where life goes on at a natural pace, young folk migrate to the Big City where competition and the high cost of living make life rough (but more fun than in the village) so they must “calculate” to survive. Yaba counters that city people, in their endless calculations, lose their natural feeling toward their young, so for a son they sent out a birth notice, but not for a daughter. In much of Asia, throughout the millennia, only boys were cherished while girls were considered a liability and often allowed to die.  Yaba makes a feminist statement by adding on that joyful pronunciation to "giving birth."


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

 

旧里や / 臍の緒に泣く /年の暮
Furu sata ya / heso no o ni naku / toshi no kure

 

This navel cord is the physical remains of his connection to mother who died four years before. “My native place” suggests his bond to the place on Mother Earth where he was born and grew up. “End of the year”

suggests the passage of time in which his bonds to mother and native place dissolved in substance but continued in heart. The verse overflows with human sentiment, along with the physical body parts of human reproduction and bonding.

 

Like a navel cord
visits to pleasure quarters
shall be cut off
He resents the thunder
of the midnight drum

 

臍 の 緒を / 吉原 がよい / きれはてて

かみなりの 太鼓 /うらめし の 中

 

Heso no o o / Yoshiwara ga yoi / kire hatete

Kaminari no taiko / urameshi no naka

 

Money getting tight, tonight is the last time he can afford to rent a woman in the Yoshiwara pleasure quarters. Basho sees that the connection a man makes, as he enters the part of a woman's body where baby is made, resembles his connection to his mother's womb. Penis goes where umbilicus came from.

He has enjoyed a courtesan’s body  and spirit for one night, but cannot stay over. A taiko, or great drum,  sounds at midnight telling men they must leave the walled quarters. Hearing that vast reverberating tone, while parting from one who has taken him inside her body, he feels like he is being born, hearing for the first time sounds of the world unmuffled by the womb, a sound like thunder he resents.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com 






<< Women with Goddess (L-04 ) (L-06 ) Breastfeeding with Basho >>


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