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-20


Brothel Slavery

Misery in the World of Prostitution

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

 

 “I’ve been held down like a piece of meat while monsters disguised as men

violated me again & again. ”

                                          Gladys Lawson,

                                         Blood Borne Connections


 

 

 Brothel Slavery

 Basho’s twelve renku and one haiku on “play-women” are crucial documents in the history of the struggle against male exploitation of woman's body.  One hundred years before Vindication of the Rights of Women, Basho spoke out for the woman’s point of view on prostitution. I pray that women who were trafficked and exploited, and those working to stops these crimes against humanity, will find inspiration and empowerment in these verses.

 

Most “play-women” in this era were young village girls indentured to a brothel to save the family from financial ruin. Brokers went to areas struck by famine, searching for “bargains.” Historian Mikiso Hane

describes how girls were told they were going to the City to be maids or waitresses, but then were forced, from age 12 or 13, to have sex, sometimes with brutal or insulting men, every night of the week, and

were beaten if they refused or tried to escape.

 

“Play-women,” despite their gorgeous kimono and make-up, were prisoners. Although some did enjoy this life, and managed to rise in the “profession” to become comfortable or even rich, and some were purchased by a wealthy customer, MOST either died young, often from syphilis —the average age of death in the play-quarters of Edo has been calculated as 22 years — or grew old working on the “fringes of the sex and alcohol trade.” Such is the world in which the following renku stanza pair occurs:

 

Now to this brothel
my body has been sold
Can I trust you
with a letter I wrote?
mirror polisher

 

此 ごろ 室に / 身を売られたる
文書いて / たのむ 便よりの / 鏡 とぎ

 

Kono goro muro ni / mi o uraretaru
Bun kakite / tanomu tayori no / kagami toki

 

Basho's follower Rotsu, a beggar,  states reality: young village girls were sold to the brothel for a money loan –the system set up so she can never pay off the loan, and will remain in slavery till her death – which, with no defense against venereal diseases, might be painful and soon. Basho gives her a message she wishes to send in a letter – and renku scholar Miyawaki notes that this may be to her guy back in the village, the boy she knew since childhood and just began to love when she was taken away. She has no way to get her letter out without the brothel seeing it, so she asks the man polishing her mirror if he will post it outside (without telling his employer).

 

The mirror in Japan has been for a thousand years associated with the Sun Goddess Amaterasu. Being round and shiny, a mirror was considered a ‘child of the sun.’  Shinto teaches that sin is not original or ingrained. We are clear inside, but accumulate sins like dust on a mirror. To restore the original purity, all we must do is wipe the dust from the mirror.


In Basho’s day, mirrors were bronze-plated with an amalgam of mercury (as in the dental fillings of my childhood). In time the plating got cloudy. Mirror polishers were craftsmen who grinded the surface

on a whetstone, and polished with mildly acidic fruit juice, to restore the original clarity – so we see him as

a servant of the Sun Goddess, one who can be trusted with a woman’s private message. Every time she looks into the mirror he polished to do her hair or make-up, she will see him, the carrier of her message; she will see her beloved reading the letter, and she will see the holy Sun shining with Hope.


Here is Basho’s genius in all fullness, his deepest penetration into the vulnerable heart: “Can I trust you?” – the question women ask silently every day.


The magnificence of renku poetry occurs in the interaction of two separate minds. In this stanza-pair, Basho explores inside Rotsu’s words and Rotsu’s mind, to find a path he will follow; he uses Rotsu’s words to build something of his own. In the next pair, the same two poets go in reverse: Basho leading off and Rotsu following.

 

Oh my dear! Remember?
my name as a baby?
Your flower face
in brothel near harbor
is made to cry

 

我がおさな名を / 君はしらずや
花の顔 / 室の湊に / 泣かせけり

 

Waga osana na o / kimi shirazu ya
Hana no kao / muro no minato ni / nakase keri

 

Basho’s stanza is spoken with the gleeful excitement of a young woman. I am surprised to meet you on the street, a girl who grew up together with me in my hometown, after so many years have passed. Oh my

dear, one so close to me that you know the affectionate name my mother or nurse called me while I suckled and later as a child. Basho’s rhetorical question takes us both back to that paradise of innocence in

our shared childhood.

 

Rotsu jumps ahead fifteen years to see where those years have brought “your flower face” -- to the misery of slavery in a brothel near a harbor where you have to deal with especially rough, dirty men. You, the sweet little girl I knew as a baby, now as I look into your face, still lovely but fading, I see how often and much you cry.


Basho lays the foundation of intimacy, then Rotsu builds the house.

 

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

 

Mountains are burned
grass painted with blood
Only a few years
in this world, betrayed
by her stepmother
Grief on a pillow of waves
in northern harbor town

 

山 は こがれて / 草 に 血を ぬる
わずかなる / 世 を や 継母も/ 偽られ
秋田酒田 の / 浪 まくら うき

 

Yama wa kogarete / kusa ni chi o nuru
Wazuka naru / yo o ya keibo mo / itsuwarare
Akita sakata no / nami makura uki

 

The third stanza portrays the misery of a young girl from a backward village in the Deep North sold to a brothel in a harbor town where she is forced to have sex “on a pillow of waves” with the scum that comes off boats. The second stanza tells us how she got there: her stepmother, while father was away, sold her,

an innocent child, to a brothel – although at first only to be a waitress or maid. In the context of the stanzas that followed, Basho’s “mountains burned and grass painted with blood” depicts the aftermath of the violent rape of an innocent virgin who now realizes that such loveless sexual encounters will be her grief every night for the rest of her life.

 

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

 

The traveler’s
greasy smell on the pillow
how disgusting!
Sardines are roasted by
inconstancy of their vows

 

旅 枕 油 くさきや / 嫌うらん
鰯 で かりの / 契り やかるる

 

Tabi makura / abura kusasa ya / kirauran
Iwashi de kari no / chigiri yakaruru

 

In Japan men and women treated their hair with camellia oil to hold the customary styles. This woman at a roadside inn cooks for travelers and also provides sex. She hates the greasy smell customers leave on her

pillow. She also hates the degrading pretence of false vows made to satisfy him with no possibility of becoming true love, since she is indentured and can never leave, and this hatred burns hot enough to

roast the sardines she prepares for him.

 

Basho employs words as an art. His stanza contains only four words: iwashi, “sardines” – a specific, physical image of dead fish; kari no“temporary” as a modifier for chigiri, “vows” – which is a contradiction,

since vows are defined as permanent – and the tangible verb yakaruru“to be roasted.” Although Basho composed this in 1677, the theme of vows will reoccur in Basho’s mind and poetry numerous times in the 17

years remaining in his life.

 

For instance, we see vows in this stanza-pair composed by Sora and Basho in 1688:

 

The punitive force
already has set forth
in solemn dignity
For one night’s vow
he empties his purse

 

すでに立つ / 討手の使い / いかめしき
一夜 の 契り/ 銭 が かづける

 

Sude ni tatsu / utte no tsukai / ikameshiku
ichiya no chigiri / zeni ga kazukeru

 

The emperor has ordered troops to subjugate the rebels; the samurai gather, and when morning comes, leave camp with strict, solemn military precision. Someone is going to get it! Meanwhile, the commander of the rebels (Han Solo) has spent the night in a brothel, and when morning comes makes a hasty departure so he can prepare his army. Before he leaves, since he is not likely to need cash ever again, he gives all he has to his partner in one night’s “temporary” vow of love. (Military commanders carry considerable funds).

Here we have a play-woman who got lucky. Now she can purchase her freedom, return to her home village, a hero because she saved her family from ruin, marry that boy she loves, and have children.


Taking off from Sora’s masculine military stanza, Basho creates a blessing for the female. Though the woman is not mentioned in any word, if we look into the link between the two stanzas, we discover her,

one who has endured year after year of degradation in solemn dignity, and from her years of misery we leap to the wonder of her good fortune; yet along with the joy she feels for what he – this powerful man she has had sex with and slept with – has given her, comes the grief of knowing why he is giving away all his cash.

 

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


Basho writes about vows in his famous travel journey A Narrow Path in the Heartlands about his journey to the Deep North in 1689. First he speaks of the pledge of the goddess Tree Blossom Princess to be

faithful to her husband, the grandson of the Sun Goddess; second he presents a haiku by his traveling companion Sora about the constancy of vows in osprey, birds which are pair-bonded and absolutely

committed to faithfulness:

 

Till the waves
cover the rock, their vow
osprey’s nest

 

These fish hawks usually build their nest in trees, but this rock among the waves stands high enough that the birds feel it safe for their nest, and in that safe place they vow their commitment to each other and to their young.

 

Finally he presents his account of meeting two play-women from Niigata, women who were prostitutes in the play-quarters of Niigata but now are pilgrims on a spiritual journey. At first he only hears the two women through the wall of his inn for thenight; one of them laments:


“As white waves strike the shore drifting along, 
in the world of prostitution reduced to misery,
our vows inconstant,
how did our everyday karma become so wretched?”

 

Basho, unlike most men, listens to women and records their speech. The lament gives voice to all the women throughout the ages who have been ‘reduced to misery’ by the sex trade. David Barnhill says,

“this entire passage has given rise to voluminous and varied commentary,” however I note that in much of this commentary little attention is given to the play-women’s lament. Male scholars avert their eyes from the misery of prostitution, preferring to imagine that women are happy to provide sex the way men like it, without commitment. Ueda describes Basho’s haiku (below) about the women as a “light-hearted, even humorous poem about two pretty courtesans who happen to lodge at the same inn.” Ueda says nothing about their misery, while Basho says nothing about them being “pretty.”

 

The haiku Basho wrote about these two women is his one well-known verse about prostitution:


Under one roof
even play-women sleeping
 bush clover and moon
 
一屋に/ 遊女も寝たり / 萩と月
Hitotsu ya ni / yuujo mo netari / aki to tsuki
 

In the sadness of autumn, tiny purple petals of bush clover form in countless multitudes on the bush, live out their brief lives, then scatter to the ground. The two women have walked many miles to get to this inn. The day-long exertion and anxiety comes to rest in the haiku. All are sleeping peacefully under the moon shining on the roof of the inn. 

 

I find it strange that many translators think the middle segment means “we slept with prostitutes” -- as if Basho were making a school-boy joke about sleeping in the same building with women who do IT for a living. Ha-ha. Actually there is no ‘I’ or ‘we’, no male person, anywhere in the verse; the only subject is ‘play-women.’ Just because some men insist upon seeing themselves and their fantasies in every scene, we do not have to join them.

 

Also, netari means ‘to sleep’ without sexual connotations; just to sleep, with peaceful dreams. To androcentric thinking, women have no role but to serve or please men – so if these women are merely sleeping, they may as well not exist. We remind the men that these women are NOT, now on this trip, prostitutes. They are pilgrims and they are women. They walk miles and miles every day, through the heat and humidity, the way Basho does, so they need their sleep. Let us not bother them with sex jokes.

 

Robert Aitken notes that some commentators assume that Basho equates himself with the moon, serene and aloft, sailing through the sky, while putting the play-women on a level with the unfortunate bush cover, living out their brief existence below.

 

Aitken disagrees and so do I. Basho has no conceit; he would never see himself “above” anyone else. Pre-eminent Basho scholar Kon Eizo sees it exactly the opposite: Basho is the low, humble one while the play-women are gorgeous like the moon. (though, remember, that at the time of this haiku, Basho has not even seen the women, but only heard their voices. Basho always seeks to see the unseen). Comparison and judgment - characterizing complex human beings in simple terms of higher or lower – is NOT what is going on in this verse. Aitken remarks, “Comparisons are odious.”

 

Rather than comparison, the point of this verse is Unity. These women are icons, symbols of humanity. ALL of us, no matter what we do or have, are tiny petals soon to scatter in the wind. Everyone in the inn – ordinary travelers as well as wandering poets and women on spiritual pilgrimages, and the innkeeper’s family as well – will soon pass away while the moon keeps on shining and preceding through its monthly cycle. When we watch someone fast asleep—alive without consciousness –  we feel he or she exists on a separate plane, closer to the divine. The moonlight shining on the roof makes the inn a sort of shrine, and the bush-clover decorates this holy place. Under that roof are two courageous women, asleep with the kamisama.

 

When we see the women as the center of Basho’s verse, alive and by themselves, with no male presence, the poem becomes an ode to the silence and harmony of the woman's spirit in sleep.

 

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

Unseen by all
now and then I cry
thinking of love
Tonight too boat rocking
shakes me from a dream

 

人の見ぬ / 時 々 は 泣き /もの思い
こよい も ふね に / ゆり おこす 夢

 

Hito no minu / toki-doki wa naki / mono omoi
Koyoi mo fune ni / yuri okosu yume

 

No one ever sees her cry, yet when she is alone she mourns for the love she might have experienced if…Ordinarily a woman, unless she works on a boat, would not ride on one – so we get that this one is indentured to a tour boat. Every night she has sex with different men, while only in sleep can she dream of true love – but the rocking of the boat wakes her to reality, her life as a sex slave on this floating brothel.


 

Basho pays attention to women, without judgments, without men.

                                  

After thirty years

in the Yoshiwara, age of
hair ninety-nine
On the bedroom pillar
she wrote the nembutsu      

 

吉原の / 三十年を老の / つくも 髪
ねや の はしら に / 念仏 書いて おく

 

Yoshiwara no / misoji o oi no / tsukumo-gami

Neya no hashira ni / nembutsu kaite oku

 

The average age of death for play-women was 22, so a woman still in the Yoshiwara play quarters after thirty years is most unusual. If she was brought here as a teenager, now she is in her forties, but the misery and degradation of brothel slavery has ‘gone to her hair’ and aged it five decades beyond this.  .

 

Different cultures and religions believe hair can reflect your inner-most emotions and traits, retaining its own unique spiritual power and energy….Native cultures, distinguished by their gender–neutral long locks, believe that hair is an extension of our thoughts, feelings and current life situation, indicating everything from age to relationship status to happiness.


The nembutsu prayer for salvation from the bodhisattva Amida is usually chanted everyday by Buddhists of the Pure Land Sects who believe that simple recitation, without knowledge of scriptures or meditation, will bring a person to the holy land of Amida –  but this woman wanted a more permanent prayer. From Basho’s stanza, we cannot tell whether she is still alive or dead and gone – but we feel her hope. 

 

From late night
pillow talk, I realize
we are cousins –
Our marriage cut off
my grief remaining
 
床ふけて / 語ればいとこ / なる男
縁さま だけ の / 恨み のこりし
 
Toko fukete / katareba itoko / naru otoko
En sama dake no / urami nokorishi


 Talking with the brothel’s customer in bed, I realize that this man is my cousin;  probably we have never met, but he spoke of a relative who is my relative. Basho then takes an amazing leap into improbable coincidence, al la Dickens:  this cousin also was the one arranged to marry me, but something happened and my family needed money, so they sold me to a brothel. And now here he is, in bed with me, only for one night.

 

Among pines a low door
closed in by thorns –
His play-woman                    
hidden seven miles
from the Capital

 

荊 に 閉じる / 松 の 潜りり戸
都 より / 三里 遊女を / しのばせて

 

Ibara ni tojiru / matsu no kuguri do
Miyako yori / sanri yuujo o / shinobasete

 

A rich and powerful man in the Capital has paid off a play-woman’s loan, so now he owns her. He keeps her in a shack with a low door that can hardly open because of all the thorns. He does not want the neighbors to know she is here. (Even if she did escape, where could she go? Here she has shelter and food.) “Seven miles from the Capital” is close enough so he can visit her without too much trouble, but far enough – in the 17th century -- that no rumor of her will reach his wife, his colleagues, and the media.

 

 

 

Lady Love will tear off
her sleeve for my muffler
With such a love,
I’ll drink up this barrel
for my coffin

 

襟に 高雄 が / 片 袖 を とく
あだ 人と / 樽 を 棺に / 呑はさん
 
Eri ni Takao ga / kata sode o toku
Ada hito to / taru o hitsugi ni / nomuwasan

 

 

This courtesan fulfills the jobs the brothel assigns to her: 1) to make her customer feel like he is the most important fellow in the world, and  2) order lots of expensive sake. He is willing even to die for such a love – yet we must keep in mind that this is all pretense and acting.  She no more loves him than she will love tomorrow’s customer. In fact, she pities his gullibility and hates having to play these stupid games with a fool so gullible he believes she will destroy an extravagant kimono for him.  


Drunk on new sake
so dazed and dopey
With nothing               
to say, you and I
face each other

 

新酒 の 酔 の /ほきほきと して
語る事 / なければ 君 に / さし 向かい

 

Shinzake no yoi no / hoki hoki to shite
Kataru koto / nakereba kimi ni / sashi mukai

 

“You” are a brothel prostitute and “I” am your client for the night; because I can only afford inexpensive ‘new-sake’ which has not been aged for a year to gain the taste drinkers prefer, I must be young and inexperienced in brothel behavior. This is probably my first time having sex.  To understand what is going on here, we must recognize the significance of shame or bashfulness in the Japanese mind.

 

 We sit on the floor at a low table facing each other, with two tiny sake cups and a porcelain bottle of the intoxicating fluid. You fill my cup, which obliges me to drink and fill your cup which obliges you to drink and fill mine, and so on and on. We actually do speak, but say nothing significant; just “please go ahead and drink” and “oh, thank you, now you drink one too.” The more drunk we get, the more incapable we become of escaping from the mutual bind of obligation. Eventually we fall asleep at the table facing each other, and dawn comes without me getting laid.  Mia says, "I like the first-person; it really conveys the ‘voice of youth’"

 

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


The brothel loaned money to the father with the daughter as surety on the loan, then she was expected to pay off the loan from the money she received from each customer after the brothel took its share.  

The system was set up by the brothel to insure that few women  gathered enough money to purchase freedom.

 

Here is a haiku by Lady Chiyo, born ten years after Basho's  death, which conveys the play-women’s experience of mi-agari, when she pays the brothel her fee for one night, so tonight her “customer” is herself:

 

Fee self-paid
she wakes up alone
late-night cold

                                  Chiyo-jo

 

 She wanted this one night to herself, to gather her inner resources, the resources she needs to go on with this life – but with no warm body alongside, the sudden drop in temperature after midnight in late autumn awakens her.  Unable to get back to sleep, she lies there wondering: how will she ever earn her freedom when she takes nights off and has to pay for them? Wondering: What is karma? And what is syphilis?

 

The wonder of Chiyo’s haiku is how it contains three worlds – economics, the oppression of women, and seasonal awareness – all these between the upper and lower futons.  She learned Basho’s art,

and in this haiku she does what he so often did: produce a word-portrait of female humanity. 

 

basho4humanity@gmail.com

 


 

 






<< Death and Near Death (L-19) (L-21) Women in Basho Prose >>


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