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-10


Her Face

Basho explores the most personal parts of a woman

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

"Life began with waking up and loving my mother's face." - George Elliot (Mary Ann Evans) 

That my face / resembles my mother's / fascinates - Basho renku

 

Her Face

 

The Priest sends away
my ordinary clothing
That my face
resembles my mother’s
fascinates

 

小袖 袴 を / 送る 戒 の 師

吾 顏の / 母 に似たるも / ゆかしくて

 

Kosode hakama wo / okuru kai no shi

Waga kao no / haha ni nitaru mo / yukashikute

 

I have been given to a temple to become a monk; the priest in charge sends the clothing I will no longer need to my former home; from now on, I will only wear nondescript robes. So where does Basho go from here?


He leaps to the nature of genetic descent. As my clothing goes back to my mother, so do my thoughts.

Even as I “leave the world,” she continues to be part of me. My face is made from the same genes as

her face, so of course they are similiar; this is fascinating – in Japanese, yukashi, “attracting me to it.”

As Gregor Mendel studied peas to discover the nature of descent through generations, Basho is attracted

to study the human face.  By the way, Mendel became a monk at age 21 and did all his research within a monastery.


As I speak
her face hidden by
folding fan
That sleep-tousled hair
a difficult boat ride

 

ものいえば / 扇子に顔を / かくされて
寝みだす 髪 の /つらき 乗合

 

Mono ieba / sensu ni kao o / kakusarete
Ne-midasu kami no / tsuraki nori ai

 

Basho creates a woman hiding her face from one who speaks to her; Japan is a “shame culture” and “shame” includes bashfulness. The second poet puts her on a boat one morning after a night of seasick sleeplessness.; her long black hair is a mess. She is on her way to the place on the boat where she can wash her face and fix her appearance so people can see her without making her uncomfortable, but she has not done so yet.


The warriors’
sword exhibition
gets violent
Woman soon cry out
so they are banished
Appearance
in mirror with a flaw,
her resentment

 

武士の / 刃祭りを / 荒にける
女はなくに /早きとていむ
様あしく / 鏡の ひづみ /たる恨み

 

Mononofu no / yabai matsuri o / ara ni keru
Onna wa naku ni / hayaki tote imu
Sama ashiku / kagami no hizumi / taru urami

 

At a Shinto festival, warriors exhibit their skills while dedicating them to the gods. Men in the audience get a thrill from long sharp swords being waved about, but the women, while they know it’s a show, they respond

with real emotion. Men cannot stand it when women make a fuss, distracting from the solemnity and also disturbing the entertainment, so they forbid them from attending.


The first poet explored the relationship between appearance and reality in a world of masculinity. The second poet responded with a woman judged and controlled by men. Basho removed men from the scene altogether to focus on a woman’s experience of appearance vs. reality. She is shocked to see her beauty marred by a warp in the mirror. Adults know that such warped images are not real; they have no object permanence. they disappear without a trace -- but still the temporary and imaginary loss of the beauty she has carefully cultivated brings her anguish.


Youngest daughter hates
the mole on her face
Robe for dancing
aimlessly she folds it
inside the box

 

かおのほくろを /くやむ乙の子
舞衣/ むなしくたたむ / 箱の内

 

Kao no hokuro o / kuyamu oto no ko
Mai koromo / munashiku tatamu / hako no uchi

 

The mole does not interfere with her intelligence or body movement, but everyone who meets her sees it, and consciousness of this saps her self-confidence. Having growing up together with her sisters who have no

moles, she hates the unfairness of this, but there is nothing she can do about it.  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. 

 

Both stanzas are rich with physical specifics: the first stanza has “youngest daughter” and “mole” and “face,” and right in the middle of all that physical-ness is the emotional “hates.” (I originally used a moderate “detests” or “resents,” but remembering how my own teenage daughters said they “hated” a song or a movie or a food, and remembering Shakespearian actress Janet Suzman’s description of teenage Ophelia and Juliet: “the appalling worries, the despair, how passionate one feels about every little thing…,” I use “hates.”)

 

Basho’s stanza has a similar form: “robe” and “folds it” and “inside the box” are all completely physical, yet among them is the superb nameshiku, “aimlessly,” which conveys all the frustration and disappointment of a teenage girl with problems she cannot solve. Here is the ordinary uncomfortableness of life.


 

Face of farm wife
chatters and chatters
Smell of garlic
never can he approach
yet still in love
Weakened by the heat
July in mosquito net

 

物よくしゃべる / いわらじの顔
蒜の香の /よりもそはれぬ /恋をして
暑気によはる / 水無月の蚊屋

 

Mono yoku shaberu / iwaraji no kao
Hiru no ka no /yori mo sowarenu / koi o shite
Atsuke ni yowaru / minazuki no kaya

 

When Japanese women talk with other Japanese women in their familiar dialect, the sounds gurgle and flow as in a stream; they never pause to think about what to say or how to say it; the sounds just go on and on. Basho gives one chattering woman the smell of garlic, and a husband who loves her but cannot stand the odor: the endless diversity of human character and relationships. The season is mid-summer; garlic is eaten to keep away mosquitoes. She stays in the net all day long, chattering on and on.



Under the moon
even a frowning face
is beautiful
She pounds the cloth
in argument with love

 

月の 前 / しかみし 顔 も / うつくしく
砧 うち 々 / 恋 の いさかい

 

Tsuki no mae / shikamishi kao mo / utsukushiku
Kinuta uchi uchi / koi no isakai

 

Basho says under the full moon the entire world, even a sour face, takes on beauty from above. Izen follows with a women taking out her feelings as she pounds the cloth with a mallet. 

 

(In case you are wondering why this renku is in this topic rather than in L-3 POWER OF WOMEN along with four other verses on pounding cloth; the reason is that the pounding of cloth is in the other poet's stanza while the face is in Basho's; I usually select in accordance with Basho's stanza.)

 

 

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 famed beauty Komachi grew old to wander the streets, a beggar in rags. Her dying request was that

her corpse be left out on the fields, and was seen with plume grass growing through her skull’s eye sockets. Her beauty – as well as her sanity -- gone like a flash of lightning, Komachi ended up with tall stalks and wispy plumes emerging from her face to the height of a woman.


Oh so many
disappointments
assail me
The mirror reflects
my laughing face

 

数 々に /恨みの 品の / 指しつぎて
鏡 に 移す / 我が わらいがお

 

Kazu kazu ni / urami no hin no / sashi-tsugite
Kagami ni utsusu / waga warai-gao

 

The previous stanza is sad but has no element of interest; Basho's stanza however is fascinating. In her misery she grimaces into the mirror, pretending to laugh with a deliberate and sulky face, her mockery of happiness. Basho so often considers the difference between appearance and true feeling. The mirror reflects

her “laughing” with perfect accuracy. Unlike men, the mirror cannot lie: it can only reflect what is there.


My beloved
sends me this letter
I rip to shreds!
The face of a demon
I cry at the sight

 

いとおしき / 人の文さえ / 引きさきて
般若の面を / おもかげに泣く

 

Ito oshiki / hito no bun sae / hikisakite
Hannya no men o / omokage ni naku

 

Unable to endure the message in the letter, I tear the page up, then in the mirror am shocked to see the demon of my jealousy.  Basho again fulfills the previous stanza to make it interesting. 


Castle guards
asleep on their feet,
morning dawns
Covering her faded
eyebrows, lovers part

 

殿 守が / ねぶたが立る / あさぼろけ
はげたる 眉を / 隠す きぬぎぬ

 

Tono-mori ga / nebutagaritsuru / asaboroke
Hagetaru mayu o / kakusu kinuginu

 

As light spreads over the world, the samurai guarding the castle struggle to stay awake and in proper military formation. Basho shifts to the female.  Upper class women at this time shaved off their eyebrows and painted a set of fake eyebrows on their forehead; the paint contained only natural dyes, so after a whole night, it would fade -- and this messiness bothers her and she responds with bashfulness.  Again and again, Basho pays attention to and observes the woman’s face in shame. 

 

 

With her heart? she writes
his name in cursive script
Turning aside
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 ink brush or with her finger) in hiraganathe cursive phonetic Japanese writing used by women; ordinarily a man’s name would be written in kanji, or 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 young humans feel with the opposite gender.

The two turn away from the lantern so neither face is illuminated and can be clearly seen by the other.

Again we see an abundance of activity in Basho's stanza: the two active verbs "turning aside" and 

"hiding from eachother." 

 

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

 

Though meaning is hidden
she stands and listens
Lantern light
below it her pale white
complexion
Upon tatami the lute
put down with a thud

 

隠すたよりを / 立ちながら聞く
行燈の /上より白き / 顔つき
畳に琵琶を / どつかりと置く

 

Kakusu tayori o / tachinagara kiku
Andon no / shita yori shiroki / hitai tsuki
Tatami ni biwa o / dotsukari to oku

 

A woman “stand there to listen” to a man who hides his inner thoughts from her. As she lifts up her lantern to better see him, her face turns white with the realization of his true intentions. Basho has the woman

disappointed by love play a sad piece on her lute, then put down the instrument; we hear her exhaustion in the thud her instrument makes on the slightly yielding tatami mat. From ethereal face above lantern, Basho creates a solid, distinct sound: thud.


Millions throughout time have suffered and died from tuberculosis whose classic symptoms are a chronic cough with blood-containing sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss. The term "consumption" came about due to the weight loss: the infection consumes the body, although the memories continue in a fading physique. Basho wrote both of these renku stanzas together in succession, so they function as a tanka:

 

“Lingering on. . .”
I take down the doll and
look at her face
Again starting to weep
the cough of consumption

 

 

名残ぞと / 取置 雛の / 顔をみて
また泣入りし / 労咳のせき

 

Nagori zo to / tori oku hina no / kao o mite
Mata naki irishi / rougai no seki

 

The flow of images – which is the same in this translation as in the original – make this one of Basho’s most heart-rending verses. He begins with a single word of speech or thought to open the mind without any context to specify the meaning. The second and third lines portray physical actions that evoke memories: taking the doll down from a shelf and looking at the face which is made with a perfectly content and healthy appearance. The fourth line adds deep and reoccurring emotion, and the fifth provides the sad context for the entire scene: tuberculosis.


My initial interpretation of this verse was of a single person: a woman dying of tuberculosis takes down the doll frm shelf, remembers playing with long ago; looking at the doll’s face recalls her own young healthy face; she cries for her life ending; she hears and feels herself cough. Rebecca then enlarged my vision with other possibilities: a mother whose daughter is dying, lingering on, looks at the doll her daughter played 

with long ago; the doll’s face reminds her of the child’s face; she weeps for her daughter, and hears hearing her cough. Or the daughter has died, but memories of her linger on. Mother looks at the doll’s face, and remembers her daughter’s face; and  remembers that horrible hacking cough.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com






<< Long Black Hair (L-09) (L-11 ) Attraction >>


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