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-15


Marriage For Women

13 renku by Basho and co-poets

"May you enjoy till the end your wife's unchanging kindness."   


Message from Basho's Will, from Basho's heart,  to his old friend Jokushi, November 26, 1694.  

 

Marriage for Women

Making love to young lord
clouds over hunting ground
Our first princess
in headman’s household
shall be nurtured

 

狩場 の 雲 に / 若 殿 を恋
一 の 姫 / 里 の 庄家に / 養 はれ

 

Kariba no kumo ni / waka dono o kō
Ichi no hime / sato no shōka ni / yashinaware

 

The image of a young lord of noble birth at the hunting grounds has a long romantic tradition which Kikaku suggests in his stanza; in this context, “clouds” suggest sex. Basho makes the “young lord” the oldest son of the village headman. Our oldest daughter, our “first princess,” is marrying, or dreaming of marrying, the future head of the most prosperous family in this village. The words “shall be nurtured” are chosen to express Basho’s good wishes for her future in her new family, wishes that everyone in the household will support her in her roles as wife and mother. Basho gives hope to the young female, hope that everyone in the family she marries into will “nurture” her throughout the decades to come. Throughout the patriarchal world, women will understand this hope.

 

A new bride,
without neighbors knowing,
brought to our house
from standing screen shadow
a tray of sweets peeks out 

 

隣へも / 知らせず 嫁を / つれて来て
屏風の陰に / みゆるくわし盆

 

Tonari e mo / shirasezu yome o / tsurete kite
Byoubu no kage ni / miyuru kuwashi bon

 

In debt, we cannot let our neighbors see us spend money on a wedding. The tray of sweets is for the modest wedding reception.


Basho said about his stanza:

 

The “tray of sweets” stands out to the eyes,
not from our appreciation for this single image,
but rather from the connection to the previous stanza
through the heart with Newness
 

 

Instead of examining his stanza, we must see how it comes from and relates to the previous stanza. so the “tray of sweets” also represents the bride peeking out from her bashful secrecy; the “sweets” are the love and kindness she has to give her husband, guests, neighbors, and future children. The link passes through the human heart with hope for the future of this marriage.  Since no other male poet would compose such a hopeful female-centered message, Basho's stanza shines with Newness.

 

Due date approaching,
her light carefree face
She has no time
to gossip at the well
about fickle men
Thread seller as guest
departs the morning after

 

産 月 まで も / かるき おもかげ
うき事を / 辻井 に 語る / 隙もなし
かせ買う 客 の / かえる きぬぎぬ

 

Umuzuki made mo / karuki omokage
Uki koto o / tsui ni kataru / hima mo nashi
Kase kau kyaku no / kaeru kinuginu

 

We begin with her great hope for the birth of her first child and future happiness in marriage. Years later, she would love to gossip about fickle men at the community well, but with so many children to feed and clothe, she simply has too much work to do. One fickle man, her husband, buys thread spun by village girls and sells it door-to-door, then instead of spending his meager income on family needs, purchases a night as “guest” to a play-woman. If he satisfied her, she would stand in her doorway watching him leave her house before sunrise. A man who deals in something so small and insignificant as thread is not likely to be so impressive in any other way, so probably did not please her. This is what the wife would like to say to her friends at the well.

 

Making preparations
to work in the night
Younger sister
has been requested
by a good family
To the Priest, first of all, 
Father sends a letter


晩の仕事の / 工夫するなり
妹を / よい処から / もらはるる
層部のもとへ / まづ文をやる


Ban no shigoto no / kufuu suru nari
Imouto o / yoi tokoro kara / morawaruru
Souzu no moto e / mazu fumi o yaru


Various possibilities emerge from this stanza-trio composed in spring of 1694 before Basho left on his final journey. Tasui – of whom little  is known – begins with someone preparing to do work late at night while the rest of the family sleeps.  'Night work' is usually done by the mother; she would be spinning thread, weaving fabric, sewing, or mending– however the Japanese says this person is 'preparing' to do night work. The KBZ cites two separate texts which say that this suggests a man: apparently, according to these texts, women simply work, they do not make preparations; men have the brain power to do so, or the work they do requires preparation. One text says that the man is diligently preparing to do work that will earn money. Of course, these texts, and the KBZ which quotes them, were all written by men. Women will object, saying women’s night work requires preparation, and women have the brain power to do so, although men do not notice.


The second poet, a shop clerk named Ko’oku, specifies the “younger sister.” She might be the one preparing to work at night, or the daughter of that woan who has inherited diligence, intelligence, and devotion to her family, so that a wealthy house has requested her to marry their son. Of course no one says anything about whether she wants this marriage or not. In any case, we wish her success and happiness.


Basho’s stanza gives birth to more possibilities. The father could be of the younger sister, or of the family that requests her. He may be asking the priest whether or not to go through with this marriage, or maybe simply notifying him – however the Japanese says “ first of all,” so the issue must have been of importance to the writer. Ordinarily families do not notify priests of a marriage request, and so the BRZ says that the priest is an uncle, or other relative, of the girl, who has taken the tonsure years ago. Basho continues and enhances the mysteries of this trio: who is this “younger sister”? What has she inherited from her mother? What is her importance to her family? None of these questions are answered, so we must look to sociology, anthropology, and our own memories and insights of the roles and the importance of women in family and society.

 

 

 

Known by sight
she got together with
packhorse driver
Soon as she marries
she pulls the clappers

 

見知られて/ 近付成し /木曽の馬士
嫁入するより / はや鳴子引

 

Mishirarete / chikazuki narishi / Kiso no mago
Yome risuru yori / haya naruko hiki

 

Growing up in a crude and backward village in the Kiso mountains, she occasionally saw him drive a packhorse carrying goods, and he saw her. When she ripened, they “got together.” “Clappers” are

noisemakers hung over a field of ripening grain with a rope attached, so they can be pulled to scare away hungry birds – however the birds simply fly to the next field and wait for the puller to leave. When you marry a packhorse driver in Kiso, you get little romance but much futility.


With coins picked up
replacing tatami covers
For the Festival
the missus entertains
her relatives

 

ひろうた金で/ 表かえする
初牛に /女房のおやこ / 振る舞いで

 

Hirouta kane de / omote kaesuru
Hatsu ushi ni / nyoubo no oyako /furu maute

 

Who chances upon money lying on the street and uses it on home improvements? A man would more likely spend his lucky find on his own pleasures, so we say this is a woman. Pleased that her floor mats have fresh, sweet-smelling woven-straw covers, she invites her parents and siblings and their kids over for tea and cakes. According to the patriarchal system of Japan, when a woman enters her husband’s family, she gives up involvement with her relatives, and lives only to serve her husband and sons. Both stanzas, however, allow the wife to focus on her own concerns and feelings.

 

At the village square
men gather, then nap
Women only
about incoming brides
yakkety-yak
Children they pamper
frostbitten in autumn

 

村の出見世に/ あつめてねる
嫁とりは /女斗で / 埒をあけ
大事がる子の / 秋の霜やけ

 

Mura no demise ni / atsumete neru
Yome tori wa / onago bakari de / rachi o ake
Daijigaru ko no / aki no shimo yake

 

Men gather with their peers then take a nap, while their wives chatter in their local dialect with no inhibitions and much ribald humor about the young virgins deflowered by their sons, to then join

the woman’s collective in this village. Ryoban objects to women speaking so freely because such

liberated wives (he thinks) treat their kids like little emperors who grow up weak and unable to regulate body temperature within normal parameters. Renku Sociology 101.

 

From last year’s battle
bones bleached white
On her day off
the wife escorted home
in falling rain
The fragrance of mist
as she washes her hair

 

去年の 軍 の / 骨 は 白暴
やぶ入るの / 嫁 や 送らむ / 今日 の 雨
霞む にほひ の / 髪 洗うころ

 

Kozo no ikusa no / hone wa nozarashi

Yabu iru no / yome ya okuramu / kyō no ame

Kasumu nioi no / kami arau koro

 

Many months have passed since the great battle, and bones of warriors picked clean by scavengers and exposed to rain, snow, dew, and wind lay white on the ground. On a day off from work, a married woman servant walks back to her native home. She knew she would have to pass the battlefield, and could not do so alone, especially in the gloomy rain, so someone (her husband?) walks with her to alleviate her fear. The first thing she does upon arrival at her parent’s house is wash the bad vibes from her hair -- the hair

which contains her life-force. We breathe in that smell of thick wet hair – as in beauty parlors – like the smell of mist.

 

A most remarkable scene of marriage occurs in the 11th century Tale of Genji: Genji’s son Yugiri and wife Kumoikari have eight children. A wet-nurse feeds the baby even though mother is present and healthy.                                                        

 

(Yugiri) was awakened by the screaming of a child.  It was screaming very lustily, and vomiting.  The nurse was with it, and Kumoikari sending for a light and pushing her hair roughly behind her ears, had taken it in her arms. A buxom lady, she was offering a well-shaped breast.  She had no milk, but hoped that the breast would have a soothing effect.”

 This astonishingly intimate female portrait is unique even in the Tale of Genji.  Of the innumerable women in the Tale, only      Kumoikari reveals her breasts to us.  The author Murasaki demonstates her female knowledge of female and child psychology.
 
Yugiri goes outside to view the moon, and the baby starts to cry.
Kumoikari remarks sarcastically
 
“We have a sick child on our hands and here you are prancing and dashing about like a young boy.  You open the shutters to enjoy your precious moonlight and let in a devil or two.”
 
  Yugiri replies:                          
  
 As the mother of an excess of children,
 you learn to think deeply, so you get cheeky.
 

Yugiri and Kumoikari should have their own reality TV show. 

 

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

 

Uko’s ordinary name was Toume. When she became a nun in 1691 she took the Buddhist name Uko, so like everybody else we call her this. In the years from 1690 to 1693 when Basho and Uko corresponded, she was in her twenties or thirties, married to Boncho, a doctor in his forties.

 

A glimpse of Uko and Boncho at home in Kyoto can be seen in the following anecdote: one freezing, snowy night Boncho was about to leave for a poetry gathering, taking along a 12 year old servant boy.  Uko spoke out:

     
Were this my child
no way would you take him!
 snow in the night

                                                                                                                                                      A 17th century feminist haiku.  Uko is threatening to show her husband her strength.  (I think of Nancy with her fist in Fagin’s face, saying “No!  You will not take Oliver!”)   It is said that “Boncho, awed and ashamed, went on alone.”

 

Historian Louis Perez translates these instructions from the contemporary moralist tract, Greater Learning For Women,

 

“The great life-long duty of the woman is obedience… a woman should look on her husband as if he were Heaven itself and never weary of thinking how she may yield to her husband and thus escape celestial castigation.”

                                                                                                      

To this nonsense, Uko says “Not me!”

 

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

 

 

Pine breeze
awakens the chorus
of caged birds
Carpenters start to work
heard by wife deep within

 

鳥籠を /づらりとおこす / 松の風
大工づかいの / 奥にきゆる

 

Tori kago o / zurari to okosu / matsu no kaze
Daiku zukai no / oku ni kiyuru

 

She awakes to bird song from a row of cages along with a breeze from the pines near the house. This is a wealthy mansion. In bed the wife hears carpenters beginning their work in another part of the house –

but that does not interfere with the peacefulness in her part of the house – so again we feel the size and prosperity of the house. The sound of carpenters working in her home, but far away, makes the wife

at daybreak feel calm and peaceful, relishing her family’s prosperity along with the bird song and cool breeze.

 

Hard of hearing
his wife has to tell him:
ho-toto-Gi-su
Through hardship in Mino
they have a tea house

 

耳 うとく/ 妹 が 告げたる / 時鳥
つれなき美濃に 茶屋をしている

 

Mimi utoku / imo ga tsugetaru / hototogisu
Tsurenaki mino ni / chaya o shiteru

 

Basho portrays the sadness of a man growing old and losing his hearing, no longer able to hear the sounds he enjoyed for so many summers, so his wife has to announce into his ear that the little cuckoo has called its clear distinctive five note tune. Sora says they have a tea house but, since he cannot hear, she does

all the work involving other people, while he putters about, doing odd jobs.


Watching by lantern
at entrance to town
Taking a wife
rice merchant pretends
to be young

 

てうちん見ゆる / 町の入口
女房よぶ /米屋の亭主 / 若やぎて

 

Chouchin miyuru / machi no iriguchi
Nyobou yobu / komeya no teishu / wakayagite

 

The watchmen holds up his lantern to get a better look at faces of people entering town. Here comes a man in a wedding procession; he must have some years behind him since he has attained the position of boss, but is dressed up to look young and fine – however the watchmen can clearly see how fake his youthfulness is. In the context of Basho’s stanza, “at entrance” may take on a sexual meaning. If you like it that way, go for it.

 

Two nails for clothing
lonely is the night
No one comes
to make my own wife
give me leisure
Boiling rice is a drag
my eyes fill with tears

 

布 杭 二本 / 夜 は 寂しき
隙 くれし / 妹 をあつかう /人 も 来ず
飯 焼く事を / 倦みて 泣 けり

 

Nuno kui nihon / yoru wa sabishiki
Hima kureshi / imo o atsukau / hito mo kizu
Meshi taku koto o / umite nakakeri

 

Two nails I am used to seeing with clothing hanging on them now are empty, so lonely am I. Apparently my wife has left me, so I need someone -- the matchmaker who arranged the marriage, my wife’s father, someone -- to fix things up with her so she comes home and does the housework. Since no one has persuaded her to come back, I have to boil rice over a wood fire in the cook stove, which is really tiring and I cry from smoke getting in my eyes while I miss my wife and the work she did.

 

Still standing
he leaves his letter
near the door
Coins held in her hand
the grandmother cries

 

立 ながら / 文 書て置く/ 見せの 端
銭 持 手 にて / 祖母 の 泣かるる


Tachinagara /bun kaite oku / mise no hashi
Zeni motsu te nite / baba no nakaruru

 

Ensui gives us very little to work with, and Basho only a bit more, so we must supply details from our knowledge of living arrangements in a patrilocal society. Apparently the husband is deserting his family. He does not sit down with them to explain or say good-bye, he does not even come into the main part of the

shop. He just leaves a letter of exclamation and a few coins inside near the door. We feel his shame and his weakness, there in Ensui’s words.


His mother holds the coins in her hand, and cries for her son who is abandoning his responsibility, for her daughter-in-law and grandchildren who now have no one to support them. So smoothly the mind moves from Ensui’s stanza into Basho’s.

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Woman's Love: (L-14) (L-16) She Has a Name >>


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