Basho's thoughts on...
• Woman Central: Basho Honors Women and Girls

• 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 Tsukeku 芭蕉付句
• BAMHAY (Basho Amazes Me! How About You?)
• New Articles


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694
matsuo
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  >  Woman Central: Basho Honors Women and Girls  >  L-05


Pregnancy to Birth

Basho explores the creation of life

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

There is such a special sweetness in being able to participate in Creation

                                                                        Pamela S. Nadav

 

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

 

Kurogane no / yumi tori kakeki / yo ni ide yo
Tora futokoro ni / yadoru akatsuki

 

(BRZ 3: 100) The “iron bow” suggests the folk tale of Yuriwaka, a general and provincial governor betrayed by a subordinate and abandoned on an island. The subordinate took over his governorship and tried to take over his wife, but she −like Penelope in the Odyssey – stalled while praying to the Gods for Yuriwaka’s return. Her prayers reached a fisherman who rescued him, then Yuriwaka took vengeance on his betrayer with his gigantic bow. The story is so similar to the Odyssey that some scholars believe that Portuguese missionaries told the ancient Greek legend toJapanese who made it their own.


Kikaku expresses the masculine fighting for vengeance (or whatever men seek), then Basho reaches for the ultimate in female power.Since the iron bow suggests the Japanese version of the Odyssey, Basho's stanza may evoke the memorable scene in the 1997 miniseries where lonely Penelope (played by Greta Scacchi) lies on her back amidst the waves with her legs spread so the sea (containing the spirit of Odysseus) surges into her. Daybreak is the Sun-Goddess giving birth to the day and to life.

 

Both TIGRESS AT DAYBREAK and the following tsukeku were written in 1683, which was also the year Basho’s mother passed away.


Air shimmers
building Lord’s mansion,
the Sun-Carpenter
Brides blossom within brides
a hundred years of grain

 

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

 

(BRZ 3: 134) The “Sun-Carpenter” is the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, Queen of Photosynthesis, who builds many things – such as all plant life – with her light. Shimmers - light refracting through moisture rising from the ground warmed by the spring sun - are the Sun-Carpenter building a mansion for the daimyo, or provincial lord, who gets to live in such a psychedelic house. 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.

 

Village women go to the city to work, play and marry; pregnant they return to their native home so mother can help with birth and baby care:


Sister from the Capital
here to have her baby
Weaving folded,
at back door she lights
flower incense

 

Miyako no imo ga / ko o umi ni kuru
Hata tatamu / tsumado ni hana no / ko o yakite

 

(BRZ 5: 66) 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. The kitchen in a wooden and wood-burning farmhouse produces and contains many odors, so she goes from the hearth to the back door with a bit of fire to light a cone of incense. Most men do not care about how home smells (unless it get really horrible), but the anthropologist Basho shows us that women in his time did care; the flower incense is her “air freshener.” 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.

 

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 as 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. Basho grew up together with four sisters, and one of them, Oyoshi, born when Basho was about seven, remained in her native home for her whole life, so Basho observed her pregnancy. He had access to feminine insights many other men lack.


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. When I showed Dr. Yoshimura this Basho verse, I saw tears in his eyes.

 

Maybe instead of just sitting there, the Mona Lisa should do some work. Lisa Gherardini, the third wife of an Italian nobleman. sat for da Vinci from 1501-05 when she was 22 to 26. Biographer Sherwin 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 married woman. 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.”

 

Also her breasts look pregnant. Behind those mysterious shining hands is a new life. The Mona Lisa being pregnant does explain the 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, though this young married woman must have been pregnant in those five years−have invented an array of far-fetched male-oriented interpretations for Mona Lisa:

Sigmund Freud: “This picture contains the history of Leonardo’s childhood.” He does not see the woman at all: all he sees are his own theories.

Walter Pater: “She is older than the rocks among which she sits” WTF! She is not sitting among rocks.

Kenneth Clarke: “This picture is so full of Leonardo’s demons that we forget to think of it as a portrait.” Where? I see no demons; only a woman soon to give birth.


In contrast to this androcentric nonsense, Dr. Keele actually looks at the woman in the painting to see HER

reality, rather than the abstractions of male art critics, philosophers, and psychologists. Likewise, to explore Basho’s female-centric poetry, I forego the philosophical and religious concepts invented by scholars, to instead focus on Basho’s actual words, so simple, bodily, and sensory, telling the real life of women in

Japan.

 

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

 

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 this is her wedding night and the “red silk underskirt” her bleeding after first sex. 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.


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

 

Sannyo ni / ukiyo o tatsu / kyou zumai
Mata sata nashi ni / musume yorokobu

 

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.


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

 

Isogashiki / tei ni mo miezu / kigusuri ya
Sannen tatedo / yome ga ko no naki

 

(BRZ 10: 169) 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!

 

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

 

Haru no hi ni / ubuya no togi no / tsutsukuri to
Kawari-gawari ya / yu-tsuke kuuran

 

(BRZ 9: 247) 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. They remain in constant readiness to do 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.

 

Visiting his hometown in 1687, Basho is shown the remnant of his navel cord, kept as a memento.

 

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

 

Furu sata ya / heso no o ni naku / toshi no kure

 

(Kon 346) This navel cord is the physical remains of his connection to mother. “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 physicalness of human reproduction and bonding.


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

 

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

 

(BRZ 3: 158) We go from rice sprouting to woman giving birth to the child she loves, then return to Mother Earth giving birth to countless billion plants. Woman merges with Earth, each making herself beautiful, and within her beauty is the power of regeneration, the power to nurture life.

 

 

e-mail:  basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Basho's Goddesses (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...
• Woman Central: Basho Honors Women and Girls

• 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 Tsukeku 芭蕉付句
• BAMHAY (Basho Amazes Me! How About You?)
• New Articles


Matsuo Basho 1644~1694
basho
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

 





basho