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
• Woman Central: Basho Honors Women and Girls
• 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  >  Woman Central: Basho Honors Women and Girls  >  L-23


20 Visions of Women

The best from “Woman Central: Basho Honors Women and Girls”

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

The earliest and most numerous, diverse, and insightful female-centric verses in World Literature were written by the Japanese male poet Basho between 1664 and 1694 – although scholars have neglected the vast majority of them, so almost nobody knows Basho’s studies of women and girls exist in Japanese anthologies. My research assistant Bronagh said


“Basho shows an appreciation for women far beyond what
we have been led to expect from a Japanese man of this era.”

 

Basho cherished and nurtured his appreciation for women to produce these gem-like verses which could inspire and empower women and girls worldwide if they became known. They should be included in every Women’s Studies course, as well as in Anthropology courses. No specialized or scholarly knowledge is required; knowledge of women is. Basho uses so few ordinary words and such simple grammar that his verses can be used to teach children and adults reading along with a female-positive message.

 

Unlike other collections of Basho including only haiku and journals, Basho4Humanity abounds with the vast and mostly uncharted wealth of his contributions to renku, linked verses by a team of poets, each writing a stanza linked to the one before. I have selected stanza-pairs with one stanza by Basho focusing on women or girls.


Words of Basho stand out in bold
Words of other poets not in bold

 

The difference between bold and not-bold highlights the separation of two minds, encouraging us to find   the links between them. Basho clearly said that renku, not haiku, is the culmination of his search for poetic expression of humanity:

 

Many of my followers write haiku equal to mine,
however in renku is the bone marrow of this old man.

 

For this pamphlet I have selected from each of 19 topics one study of women expressing the inner core of Basho’s reverence for the female. Each page begins with an epigraph introducing the topic, as this from Diane Mariechild introduces the entire book:

 

"A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power
to create, nurture, and transform.”

 

Then comes the verse along with Japanese original, Romanization, and brief commentary to help you discover what Michele Root - Bernstein calls the


“astonishing range of social subject matter and compassionate intuition that Basho reveals in his links,”

 

and Ceci Miller:


“the primordial power of the feminine emanating from Basho poetry.”

 

May these 21 Visions of Women encourage women worldwide to explore the full book with 12 times as many Basho verses and more commentary all focusing on women as central.

 

Power of Women

I do not wish women to have power over men; 
but over themselves.

 

Mary Wollstonecraft,

A Vindication of the Rights of Women

 

Her semblance of power
pebbles thrown in vain
Among women
one allowed to lead
them in chorus

 

ちから に 似せぬ / 礫 かい なき
ゆるされて / 女 の 中 の /音頭 取り

 

Chikara ni nisenu / tsubute kai naki
Yurusarete / onna no naka no / ondō tori

 

From a previous stanza about a boat, the poet imagines a boat with a woman’s lover leaving the harbor. She tries to reach it with pebbles – i.e. her love – but her slender arm cannot throw them any distance against the wind. From the weakness of the lone woman, Basho switches to a chorus of women allowing one woman to lead them, so their sound – their power, their truth – goes far. May Basho’s stanza, with or without the previous stanza, become an anthem for women’s choral groups as well as for social and political movements led by women. Women with “power over themselves,” please join together in solidarity to repair the sickness male dominance has produced in this world. Who are the women who will lead us in chorus?

 

Woman’s Love

The way of aloha (love) is really simple. You give and you give and you give and you give from here (the heart), until you have nothing else to give.

  Rell Sunn, Hawaiian woman champion surfer

 

The boss pretends
not to see their love
yet he knows
Figures half hidden
behind the umbrella

 

見ぬふりの / 主人に恋を / しられけり
すがた半分 / かくす傘

 

Minufuri no / shujin ni koi o / shirarekeri
Sugata hanbun / kakusu karakasa

 

Walking together in town, the lovers are surprised to see, and be seen by, “the boss.” He is cool and says not a word, but the heart behind the umbrella shrinks with haji – shyness, bashfulness, embarrassment. She clutches the handle to cover as much as possible without any movements that might attract his attention. Scholar Miyawaki Masahiko sees the anthropology in this renku:


Probably no other following stanza so well expresses the
sense of shame felt when one’s love becomes known to others.

 

 

From slender threads
love gets so intense –
Although I think
of love, “eat something!”
she commands me

 

ほそき 筋 より /愛 つのりつつ
物 おもふ /身 に もの 喰え と/ せつかれて

 

Hosoki suji yori / ai tsunori tsutsu
Mono omou / mi ni mono kue to / setsukarete

 

Kyokusui says love starts out simple but somehow becomes “intense.” Basho follows with the teenage daughter’s thoughts:


“Although the turmoil of young love takes away all my appetite,

mother insists I eat, to build up my slender body. Why can’t she

understand that I cannot eat while this turmoil rages within me?

Mother, stop bugging me!”

 

Here is the “generation gap” between mothers and daughters in every time and every land. Daughter thinks about love, while mother about nutrition, so there can be no meeting of minds. We see a mother 330 years ago worried about her daughter refusing to eat, struggling to stay slender, and a daughter hiding her inner feelings from mother, so the problem can never be resolved. This is anthropology, the observation of human behavior. May the verse help mothers and daughters each see from the other point of view.

 

Woman with Goddess

“The symbol of Goddess gives us permission. She teaches us to embrace the holiness of every natural, ordinary, sensual dying moment"

                                                                                        Sue Monk Kidd

 

 

At the Kannon Temple in Hase:

 

Night in spring
one hidden in mystery
temple corner

 

Hase Temple has long been a place of pilgrimage for women to pray to the 30-foot tall statue of Kannon, the Goddess of Mercy, the largest wooden image in Japan. Women commonly pray to Kannon for love, to bear a child, for a child to succeed in school or work, or for relief from hardship.


By the end of April even the nights are warm and tranquil; it is a time for the heart to find solace and renew hope. The compassion in Kannon’s face and figure radiates to every corner of the temple. Over there, in a corner, someone barely seen in faint lantern light sits in communion with the Goddess. Who is she? Why has she come here alone at night? What is she praying for?


By making a poem about the hidden woman, Basho eulogizes her; as conduit between spring and Kannon, she herself becomes eternal. This woman and her prayers to Kannon-sama convey a tender mystery known in temples and churches throughout the world – this world where men make decisions but men are inconstant, and all women can do about it is pray to a goddess for compassion.

 

Pregnancy to Birth

“Birthing is the most profound initiation to spirituality a woman can have.”

                                                                                         Robin Lim, midwife.

 

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

 

早苗 はじめて / 得し 寶 草
世の愛を / 産みけん人 の / 御 粧

 

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

 

Infant rice plants look like ordinary grass showing no sign that four months later they yield the staple food of Asia. Basho follows with a woman making herself beautiful before and while giving birth – as plants sprouting are Mother Earth’s green make-up. Woman merges with Earth, both giving birth to “love in the world.” Within her beauty is the power of regeneration, the power to nurture life.


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

                                                                                      Pamela S. Nadav

 

Breastfeeding with Basho

 

“That divine nourishment – the source from which we all draw,
like a mother's breast, ever full and ever flowing."

                                                                                                  Sarah Buckley

 

Basho wrote both of these stanzas:

 

Only my face
by rice-seedling mud
is not soiled
Breastfeeding on my lap
what dreams do you see?

 

顔ばかり/ 早苗の泥に / よごされず
乳をのむ膝に/ 何を夢みる

 

Kao bakari / sanae no doro ni / yogosarezu
chi o nomu hiza ni / nani o yume miru

 

This rice-planting woman emerges from the pond of fertile mud to nourish her child from her breasts. Her entire body is soiled and roughened by everyday’s dirt, with only hard mineral-laden water for washing ― yet she tries to keep her face clean and pretty, for baby to behold. Has any other male poet produced so exquisitely feminine a poem? Feminine in concern for facial beauty and cleanliness, the femininity of women at work, women with breasts, women nourishing life, women’s dreams and hopes for children’s future, women as one with the ground bearing life, all wrapped up in five short lines.

 

 

Mother as Icon

From her position as healer, Ma’s hands had grown sure and cool and quiet.

 

                                                                 John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

 

Glaring about
she orders the children
to “Behave!”
While roasting bean paste
some ash she puffs away

 

行儀能 /せよと子供を /ねめ廻し
やき味噌の 灰 / 吹きはらいつつ

 

Gyougi you /se yo to kodomo o / neme-mawashi
Yaki miso no hai / fuki-harai-tsutsu

 

Children scattered about the room, mother at the sunken hearth in the center has to “glare about” – staring fiercely all around -‐ to address them all, not that they listen. Basho follows with her roasting miso, soy bean paste, on skewers to make a side dish. A bit of ash from the fire has gotten on the sticky miso. She lifts the skewer close to her mouth, purses her lips, and puffs a burst of air to propel the ash away. The astonishing delicacy of this action even the fingers of elves could not perform is the polar opposite of her glaring and shouting at her kids – yet both ordering and puffing are her breath, her life force the yogis call prana. Basho perceives the physical activity of an ordinary woman of color as central and worthy of attention.

 

Marriage for Women

(In the Minangkabu society of Indonesia)

 

Since husbands go to live with their wives,
it is men who experience the separation and loss
that women face at marriage in so many other societies.
Staying in place, daughters connect women to one another
and to the ancestral land cultivated by generations
of their maternal relatives.

 

Anthropologist Peggy Reeves Sandry

Women in the Center: Life in a Modern Matriarchy

 

A new bride,
without neighbors knowing,
brought to our house
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

 

A family in debt cannot allow the neighbors to see them spend money on a wedding. 

Basho explains the link he produced:

 

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

 

In Japan a bride, trained to be bashful, is taken from the only home she has ever known, and brought to the household of her husband and his imposing parents. When we concentrate on the heart’s connection, the innermost feelings of the new bride, the “tray of sweets” becomes a symbol of her peeking out from her bashful secrecy. The “sweets” are the love and kindness she has within her. She looks forward to gaining confidence in herself, so she can give these “sweets” to her husband, guests, neighbors, and future children.


The notion that “sweets” symbolizes the wife’s love and kindness is, I believe, confirmed by a message Basho, two days before his death, sent in his Will to his old friend and follower Jokushi,


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

 

Thus the heart’s connection in STANDING SCREEN SHADOW is the bride’s Hope for the future of this marriage, the Hope that her husband will remain faithful and her heart remain whole, so her kindness continues unchanging for him to enjoy to the end. Since no other male poet, especially so long ago, would pay such attention to female love, kindness, and Hope, the stanza shines with Newness – another name for Lightness – which Basho described as:


A fresh new taste in both heart and words, giving life.

 

We reject the old-fashioned, heavy male theories leading nowhere, to discover Basho’s life-giving, female-centric truth.

 

Her Face

Life began with waking up and loving my mother's face.

 

                                                                       Mary Ann Evans (“George Eliot”)

 

Youngest sister 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 sees it, and consciousness of this saps her self-confidence. Having grown up together with sisters who have no moles, she hates the unfairness of this, but can do nothing about it. Someone who cares for her 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. Nameshiku, “aimlessly,” conveys the frustration and disappointment

of an adolescent with problems she has no way to resolve: the ordinary discomfort of life in a judgmental society.


Dare to dance, leave shame at home

                                                                               Native Hawai’ian proverb

 

Long Black Hair

I love my hair because it’s a reflection of my soul

                                                                                               Tracee Ellis Ross

Wrapping rice cake
with one hand she tucks
hair behind ear

 

粽ゆう / 片手にはさむ / 額髪
Chimaki yuu / katate ni hasamu / hitai-gami

 

Some long hair has come loose from the band in back and fallen before her face. Her fingers and palms coated with doughy residue, without thinking or breaking her stride, she reaches up with the clean surface on the backside of her hand above thumb and forefinger to tuck the hair behind her ear – with no dough getting on her hair. Women in every land and time where hair is worn long make this precise, delicate, and utterly feminine movement with the side of the hand around the ear; we see it everywhere.


Whether you are female or male, with hair long or short, make the movement with the back of your hand and you will recall exactly what Basho is showing us. The verse strikes a chord of recognition in anyone who reads it with attention. This is Basho’s Mona Lisa, his most graceful hidden woman. Only Basho has the delicacy and precision to draw such a moment out from the flow of a woman’s everyday life.

 

Attraction

I feel that any woman who is in control,
who is in touch with her femininity and sensuality,
is a woman that is empowered.

                                                                                       Shakira

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. Basho continues the narrative: her chance for a thousand koku about to ride off into the distance, she grabs the ring hanging from the saddle where his foot rests. Do not go, thousand koku. please do not vanish. I love this woman with her wide open eyes; she is so vital and active. She knows what she wants and she acts to get it.

 

Music and Song

I know I'm stronger in the songs than I really am.
Sometimes I need to hear it myself.
We all need to hear those empowering songs to remind us.

                                                                                                 Beyonce

 

With her needle
in autumn she manages
to make ends meet
Daughter playing koto
reaches age seven

 

お 針して / 秋 も 命 の/ 緒を繋ぎ
琴 引 娘 / 八ッ に なりける

 

O-hari shite / aki mo inochi no / o o tsunagi
koto hiki musume yattsu ni narikeru

 

This woman has enough work sewing before winter comes. She may “make ends meet” in autumn, but has to survive the rest of the year. Into this poor struggling home, Basho introduces a daughter and a koto, or 13-string harp, an instrument of refinement played only by women. We imagine the pride the hard-working mother feels hearing her daughter produce such beauty.

 

With utmost subtlety and grace, through the powerful effect music has on brain and heart, Basho portrays the bond between mother and daughter, the hope for a better future that the growing and learning girl evokes in her mother, hope rising on the lovely notes emerging from her seven-year-old fingers on the koto.

 

Miss Cellany

Feminism isn’t about making women stronger. 
Women are already strong.
It’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength

 

                                                                                     Gillian Anderson

 

Plum blossom scent
an old storybook read
by a young girl

 

梅が香や/ しらら落窪 / 京太郎
Ume ga ka ya / shirara ochikubo / kyoutarou

 

(“Shirara, ochikubo, kyoutaru” are story titles a young girl, Joruri-hime, reads in a storybook popular in Basho’s time.) A girl reads beside the open window near a plum tree in bloom, her youth in contrast to the classical elegance of plum blossoms and romantic tales old centuries before she was born. Unable to go outside and wander as her brothers can, she does her traveling inside books. Tales from long ago inspire her – as that old storybook Little Women inspired the young girls who became Gertrude Stein, Gloria Steinem, Simone de Beauvoir, Sandra Day O’Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Hillary Clinton, J.K. Rowling, and Ursula LeGuin who said about Louisa May Alcott’s ode to the female:


“I don’t know where else I or many girls like me, in my generation
or my mother’s or my daughter’s, were to find this model, this validation.”

 

Year of Women

Spring passes and one remembers innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers perseverance.

                                                                                                   Yoko Ono.

 

Over sun-bleached whites
lark sings to the sky
Girls only
going to view blossoms
rise in a flock

 

晒の上に / ひばり囀る
花見にと /女子ばかりが /つれ立て

 

Sarashi no ue ni / hibari saezuru
Hanami ni to / onago bakari ga / tsuretatete

 

Single layer cotton cloth hangs on a line in the sunshine; overhead a lark sings brightly rising to heaven. Here are only girls, so no males to dominate, criticize, or marginalize them; no female accommodation to male nonsense, just girls being themselves. In their pretty robes, they go to have fun, chatting and laughing with each other, complementing the clarity and freshness of the first stanza. Clean white fabric, skylark, cherry blossoms, and group of happy girls, all get high together. Basho takes the energy of sunshine and bird song from Rikyu, and transforms into the sparkling joy of young human females. Was he recalling the joy of his four sisters?

 

Erotic Flowers

 

Now through a field of riotous maiden flowers
I go untouched by any drop of dew

Suppose you too have a nap among the flowers
Then we may see how you resist their hues

 

Murasaki Shikibu

The Tale of Genji

(Seidensticker translation)

 

More than six centuries after Murasaki Shikibu, Basho, before leaving on his journey through the Japan Alps), expresses his anxiety about traveling the rough and backward road:


Trembling
and all the more moist
maiden flower

 

ひよろひよると / なほ 露けしや / 女郎花
Hyoro hyoro to / nao tsuyukeshi ya / ominaeshi

 

These are tiny clumps of yellow granules on tall stalks in autumn. The Japanese call them “harlot flowers” though the English is “maiden flowers.” How fragile are these flowers moist with dew and seeming about to topple in the raw mountain wind. The translation is altogether literal, however words take on divergent meanings in our private minds.

 

Women in Buddhism

I feel that chanting for thirty-five years has opened a door inside me, and that even if I never chanted again, that door would still be there. I feel at peace with myself.

                                                                                             Tina Turner

 

Sunshiny day
celestial maiden caresses
the rock spring
Chant of Lotus Sutra
at the window elegantly

 

はるる日は / 石の井なでる / 天おとめ
艶 なる 窓 に / 法華 読む 声

 

Haruru hi wa / ishi no i naderu /ten otome
En naru mado ni / hokke yomu koe

 

From Seifu’s fantasy of an angel caressing a spring of water, Basho follows with a woman chanting the Lotus Sutra, beginning with the famous nam myoho renge kyo, which for many East Asians contains the ultimate and complete teachings of Buddha. (You can hear Tina Turner chant the Lotus Sutra on her CD Beyond.) She chants not in the monotonic drone of priests, but rather elegantly, musically. Basho portrays the woman’s path to Enlightenment not inside a temple, but rather beside the window watching the world in sunshine while she sings the words of Buddha.

 

Oppression

 

Criticism of women’s intelligence, autonomy, and moral worth
was essential to the total subordination of women that society demanded.”

Tokuza Akiko

The Rise of the Feminist Movement in Japan

 

Vulgar words to insult
the wife and daughter
All the guests
sit there cold, freezing
at the kotatsu

 

嫁とむすめに / わる口をこく
客は皆 /さむくてこおる / 火燵の間

 

Yome to musume ni / waruguchi o toku
Kyaku wa mina / samukute kooru / kotatsu no ma

 

Father insults his wife and daughter, saying the most horrible, vulgar things. A kotatsu – a heater with a table and blanket on four sides to hold the warmth around the lower body while sitting – is square and seats four people, so we imagine father with three male friends. The mother and daughter prepare and serve food and drink to him and his guests. Father (probably drunk) harasses the females even when visitors are over, while the guests sit there shocked by what they are hearing; frozen in place, even sitting at a warm kotatsu.

 

Brothel Slavery

Courtesans were ranked and graded from the top class who excelled in their appearance and artistic accomplishments to the women sold cheaply for ten minutes at a time, called “slice-of-time whores.”

Sone Hiromi

Prostitution and Public Authority in Early Modern Japan

 

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

 

Women in this era did not ride on boats unless they worked on them, so we get that here is one indentured to a tour boat. No one ever sees her cry, yet when she is alone she mourns for the love she might have experienced if she had not been trafficked. Every night forced to have sex with a different man, 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.


Death or Near Death


If I think more about death than some other people, 
it is probably because I love life more than they do.

                                                                                                      Angelina Jolie


Hand that plays koto
wrote letter of regret
Cherries in bloom
again she climbs the hill
to his grave

 

恨みの文を / つくる琴の手
花咲けば / 又来てのぼる / 塚の上

 

Urami no bun o / tsukuru koto no te
Hana sakeba / mata kite noboru / tsuka no ue

 

The first poet focuses on a woman’s slender hand which writes , in the flowing hiragana script of women, her disappointment in love, then plays a further expression of regret in a stream of harp notes. As the first poet blends physical hand activity with emotions, music, and spirit, Basho blends the icon of cherry blossoms and the physical activity of climbing a hill with the grief of human relationships, yet leaves plenty of room for imagination to fill.

 

Each year in this season, she comes here to climb the hill of her grief.

 

Unfolding Women

For me, child, life has always been an endless unfolding:
night unfolding into day, girls unfolding into women,
women unfolding babies from themselves.
Why, life itself unfolds to death, and death unfolds to life again.

                                                                                Mingfong Ho

Sing to the Dawn

 

Basho wrote this tanka in spring of 1690 to bless a newborn baby girl:

 

Spring passes by
again and again in layers
of blossom-kimono
may you see wrinkles
come with old age

 

いく春を / かさねがさねの / 花ごろも
しはよるまでの / 老もみるべく

 

Iku haru o / kasane gasane no / hana-goromo
shiwa yoru made no / oi mo miru beku

 

The springs shall come and go with cherry blossoms filling the trees to fall in a shower of petals as you blossom into a young lady elegant in the bright lovely kimono you wear once a year at your family’s blossom picnic. May peace, health, and prosperity continue so you pass this youthful robe onto your daughter, the next ‘layer’ of yourself, while you wear one moderate in color and pattern – and this too passes onto her, and you to the dark sedate kimono of an old woman with wrinkles across your face. Do not despair, for you live again and again as your granddaughters laugh and chatter in their blossom-kimono.

 

 

              basho4humanity@gmail.com

 






<< Women in Basho Letters (L-22) (M-01) After Having Measles >>


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
• Woman Central: Basho Honors Women and Girls
• 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