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-11


Attraction

The magnetism of woman's beauty

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

"That certain undefinable something directed my way by members of the opposite sex ... call it magnetism ... a kind of power that snares people and reels them in."   Haruki Murakami ....


The notion that Basho is a poet of  impersonal nature and/or lonely desolation comes from a very limited selection of Basho’s haiku and prose – and  many of his haiku are deeply personal and  feminine. In the Basho renku unknown to almost everybody, he probes the human and female heart; here are haiku and renku experessng that personal magnetism of women.


 

                        Attraction                                    


With her wide
open eyes she can get
a thousand koku
Before he vanishes
she grabs his stirrup

 

目の張に / まず千石は /してやりて

きゆる計に / 鐙をさゆる

 

Me no hari ni / mazu senkoku wa / shite yarite

Kiyuru bakari ni / abumi o sayuru

 

She uses her lovely eyes to charm a man.  A koku is about 150 kilograms of rice, used as a standard for measuring wealth;“a thousand koku” means that this samurai’s yearly stipend from the government is

so-so, not great, but livable.

 

She is the center of the scene, the man a mere object of her desire and action; her chance for a thousand koku is about to ride off into the distance,so he grabs the ring hanging from the saddle where his foot rests. Do not go, thousand koku. please do not vanish. I love this woman; she is so vital and active. She knows what she wants and she acts to get it.

 

In a haze he worships

beauty of female form 
From the far north
the groom a frustrated
wordless butterfly

 

美人の かたち / 拝む 陽炎

蝦夷の 婿 / 声 なき 蝶 と /身を 詫びて


Bijin no katachi / ogamu kagerō

Ezo no muko / koe naki chou to / mi o wabite

 

 

The family has adopted a son-in-law from the far northern island of Hokkaido where (from a mainland Japanese point of view) there are no attractive women – but many bears. He can barely speak a few

words of Japanese so is frustrated in trying to communicate with his bride; he just stands there, “a wordless butterfly in a haze” gazing as the beauty he has been given. Miyawaki points out that she may not be “beautiful” to our standards but, compared to what he has seen before, she is Aphrodite.


Breaking off a lotus
to adorn a lovely girl
Iridescent
kingfisher alights
on dance stage

 

蓮華をおりて / 美女にかんざす

彩 の / 翡翠 舞筵に / 落ちる か と

 

Renge o orite / bijo ni kanzasu

Aidori no / hisui mushiro ni / ochiru ka to

 

The lotus, which symbolizes divine perfection growing from the mud of a pond, adorns the girl.  

The kingfisher, a bird with remarkably bright plumage,  gracefully descends upon her.  

 

 

Starting to flirt
hair parted in the middle
long and glossy
So a vision emerges
from back of her head

 

だてなりし / ふり分け 髪 は / のび ねる や

俤 に たつ / かの うしろ つき

 

Date-narishi / furiwake kami wa / nobi neru ya

Omokage ni tatsu / kano ushiro-zuki

 

“Hair parted in the middle” suggests a young girl; as she enters adolescence and starts to flirt, her hair becomes long and shiny to attract the attention of others.How does Basho, now about 20 years old, respond?  Behind her, he “sees” through her hair and head to a vision of the beauty hidden to his eyes.

 

He is so very Japanese here: the famous painting of the great beauty Ono no Komachi shows her from behind, so her beauty is hidden and therefore attractive. 

 

Flirting with

the old river, willow
opens her eyes

 

古川に / こびて目を張る / 柳かな
Furu kawa ni / kobite me o haru / yanagi kana

 

 

Kon says, “Spring still shallow, grasses and trees the withered  color of desolation, on an old river bank, only the buds of  willow trees have opened.”  In Japanese “eye” and “bud” have the same pronunciation, so the two meanings occur together in the verse. The way a girl opens her eyes when she is charming a man – such as her father - is how willow leaf buds open on their branch tips. Of all Basho haiku, this is the most charming.  

 

 

She has cut her hair
yet maintains her self -
For such fragrance
watchtower curtains
are pushed aside

 

髪を切ても / 身を作りけり
焼かおる / 物見るの筵 /おしまくり

 

Kami o kite mo / mi o tsukurikeri
Taki kaoru / mono miru no mushiro / oshi makura

 

When a woman cuts her hair, symbolically she cut off her self, to serve only Buddha – however this nun seems to have retained her selfhood as a woman. Basho focuses on her “fragrance” – not her smell, but the aura of beauty that surrounds her and attracts us to her. She seems to be at a picnic held under the tower whose samurai are ready to defend against an attack. So there are dozens or even hundreds of people – nobles, generals, elegant ladies, servants -- in this scene, yet Basho has eyes only for the alluring nun. Likewise the warriors who have pushed aside the woven straw curtains to get a glimpse of her.


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

 

After visiting the Inner and Outer Shrines of Ise, Basho passes through the nearby town of Ise. Because of it association with the high holy shrine of Shinto, you might expect the place to be sanctimonious, off-limits to a brothel. But actually it was the reverse: the street before the shrine is packed with entertainment services, such as “tea-houses” where there might be a prostitute on duty to provide sex to paying customers.

 

In his travel journal Basho says

 

The same day, on the way back, we stop at a tea house
where there is a woman named Butterfly.
“A haiku on my name, will you?”
She hands me a piece of white silk where I write.

 

This woman, we later find out, used to be a prostitute in this “tea-house” but then was taken by the owner to be his wife. She continues working in her husband’s business, using the skills she developed as a prostitute to stimulate his customers so they come back for more. The situation is fraught with sensuality: the mature and sexually experienced woman, he name and tempting request (Aga na ni hokku se yo) – she sounds like that airline stewardess: “Hi, I’m Cheryl, fly me!” – the piece of white silk she puts into Basho hand. He responds in kind:

 

Orchid fragrance
upon wings of Butterfly
sniff the incense

 

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

 

One issue in this haiku is whether we see “butterfly” as a woman or as an insect. You will notice I have prejudiced you to see the woman by using a capital “B” and not proceeding with "a" or "the.".  Even seen as an insets, this haiku is pretty sensul, but as a woman it is down right erotic.


After she saw Basho’s haiku, she said

 

“I used to the be the play-woman of this house,
but now I have become the owner’s wife.

 

If we allow the outrageous notion that Butterfly considers Basho’s haiku to be a request for sexual favors – because that’s the sort of thing men said to her when they wanted sex - then her spoken repronse makes complete sense: she is politely saying “No” and helping Basho understand why.

 

Let’s go on another adventure into female attraction. A strong but penniless man saw the famous Yoshiwara prostitute Little Murasaki in a procession, and was so enthralled with her beauty that he killed 130

people to obtain the gold to make a statue of her which he offered to the brothel in exchange for her contract. Instead he was caught and executed. When Little Murasaki found out what he had done, that

she had been the cause of so many deaths, she committed suicide beside his grave. (What would you have done?) This happened in 1679. Four years later, in Empty Chesnuts, Kikaku’s anthology of

linked verses, he wrote and Basho followed:

 

Ridiculed for
his Little Murasaki
cast in gold.
Black as fins of bream
nipples on big boobs

 

People made fun of the man and his obsession with Little Mursaki’s beauty. Imagine that: he cast her in solid gold; what an ego-trip! LOL Even her nipples were gold!! Basho counters with the nipples of Otafuku,

a legendary character who anthropologist Michael Ashkenezi calls a “full-checked, plump peasant woman laughing happily” -- her name means “large breasts.”


Kurodai often caught by fisherman are actually only black on the backside and fins; the rest of the fish is silver-grey – so I guess to Basho could look like dark nipples on a light-colored breast. Her breasts may

be huge, but Japanese men adore slender women, so Otafuku will never be loved by a brilliant shining Emperor, never be depicted in a golden statue. Unlike the golden nipples of the fool’s Little Murasaki,

her nipples will be “soiled by rice-seedling mud.”

 

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

Basho envisions the tragic beauty of Lady Seishi: one of the Four Great Beauties of Ancient China, born in 506 BCE (22 centuries before Basho), so beautiful  that “while leaning over a balcony to look at the fish in the pond, the fish would be dazzled and forget to swim, birds would forget to fly and fall from the sky”  yet that beauty came from a rustic village. 

 

His face red
and beard scraggly
Seishi’s papa
White camellia’s long
village road to love

 

Basho creates an unusual way to imagine the beauty of Seishi: by focusing on her dad’s face, red from working in the sun, or skin disease, or drinking alcohol. His beard has not been trimmed for some time.

By portraying ugliness, Basho suggests the polar opposite, the beauty of the daughter. Ain’t it the truth?


In 490 when she was 16, she was taken from her family and trained to be a spy. She was sent in tribute to the King who was occupying her home state, with the purpose of using her female power to weaken their government from within. She seduced the King to forget about state affairs and to execute his wisest advisor and general. After 17 years of her efforts, her home state conquered their oppressor. Seishi did not enjoy her undercover mission; she probably wanted to live her own life instead of being a piece, even the Queen, in someone else’s chess game.

 

On his journey to the Deep North of Japan in 1689 Basho went to Kisakata on the rugged Japan Sea side of the main island where the sun rarely shines and storms are frequent, cold, and miserable.  Here he wrote another verse on Seishi's attractiveness.

 

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

 

The blossoms of the nebu, a mimosa or silk tree, .in summer are clusters of long needle-like stamens, each with white on the inner section white and red on the outer, so they resemble long eyelashes with white and red makeup. In places where the sun shines, the blossoms are lovely, but in rainy Kisagata, they droop miserably.


It was said (by men) that Seishi was most beautiful when frowning, her eyes half-closed in resentment (a notion only a man could hold). Basho’s verse is a ‘sketch’ of Seishi, or any beautiful woman, frowning in resentment. The long red and white stamens of the flower suggest the make up on the eyelashes of an elegant courtesan like Seishi –yet the mascara is smeared by tears; since woman and Earth are one, smeared by rain. And under those lashes is that frowning motion in the muscles between the eyes (whose accumulation nowadays is removed with Botox).

 

Charles Darwin noted that frowning is the one facial expression unique to humanity:


In comparison (to human faces) apes’ faces are inexpressive, chiefly owing to their not frowning under any emotion of mind …(human) eyebrows may be seen to assume an oblique position in persons suffering from deep rejection or anxiety; for instance I have observed this movement in a mother while speaking about her sick son.

 

Seishi suffered from chest pains (i.e. tuberculosis). According to the tongue twister:


In Japanese:

Seishi shiji shijushi, shijushi-ji Seishi shi

(What fun! Try it three times in a row.)


In English:

Seishi dies at forty-four, at forty-four Seishi dies.

 

In Romanized Mandarin:

Xī Shī sishí sìshísì, sìshísì-shí Xī Shīsǐ.

(Oh God!)

 

In Chinese characters:

西 施 死 時 四 十 四,四 十 四 時 西 施 死

 

Although this tongue twisters is about the same women as Basho’s renku stanza HIS FACE RED and his haiku GLOOMY CAVE, it has no connection to Basho; why do I include it in these commentaries? Simply because I want to have, and want you to have, FUN with Basho.

 

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Her Face (L-10 ) (L-12) Music and Song: >>


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