Basho's thoughts on...
• Woman Central: Basho Honors Women and Girls

• 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
• 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  >  Praise for Women  >  B-28


For the Women of India

Basho and Tagore Praise and Empower You

The two great poets of Asia, Basho and Tagore, sing of the Goddess Lakshmi, mountain, daybreak, household fire, moon and starlight, motherhood, giving birth and blessing the newborn girl.


Words of Basho and Tagore in bold face to stand out

 

Rabindranath Tagore, the Bengali poet and philosopher who reshaped Bengali literature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, in The Gardener sings of women:

 

Oh woman, you are not merely the handiwork of God, but also of men;

they ever endow you with beauty from their hearts.

Poets weave for you a web with threads of golden imagery;

painters give your form ever new immortality…
You are one half woman and one half dream.

At Matsushima Bay, considered the most gorgeous scene in Japan, Basho with “threads of golden imagery” compares the pine tree  trunks and branches bent to fantastic angles to a woman’s beauty. 


The pines are deep green and so bent by the waves 

their crookedness appears to be natural, the scene

as stunning as a beautiful women adorns her face.

 

 

 “Their crookedness appears to be natural” means the crookedness is NOT inborn but appears to be.  No matter how the pines are bent and twisted in the wind, they retain their inherent pine-tree straightness.    So too, in a woman; she adorns her face with make-up, but the real beauty lies within, unchanging.  

 

Though Basho is famous for his haiku and travel journals, his major poetic work was in renku, or linked verse, where he and other poets wrote stanzas complimenting each other.One of Basho’s earliest renku stanza-pair, written in 1675 when he only 30 years old, glorifies Kichijoten,   the Japanese form of the Hindu goddess Lakshmi who brings success and prosperity, along with the Moon.


As the goddess Lakshmi
so radiant a Moon
Auspicious
Her headdress on mountain,
clouds at dawn

 

Kichijou tennyo / kore hodo no tsuki
Atsurae no / youraku kakaru / yama kuzura

 

(BRZ 1: 105) Her name comes from the Sanskrit Laksya, ‘aim’ or ‘goal,’ so Lakshmi is a goddess of mangalam, auspiciousness,  promising good fortune, the household goddess of most Hindu families, and a favorite of women. Although this is only mention of Lakshmi in Basho poetry, he frequently sings of good .

fortune

 

An ancient Sanskrit prayer sings of Lakshimi and the transmission of her promise of good fortune through the lifetime of females:

 

           Every woman is an embodiment of you.
           You exist as little girls in their childhood,

           As young women in their youth

           And as elderly women in their old age

 

We may be surprised to see Lakshmi in Basho’s poem since Japan was immersed in Buddhism but not in Hinduism – however Lakshmi and other Hindu deities were brought into Buddhism as it entered China and Japan, and so the ancient Buddhist temples in Nara have statues and a famous painting of Lakshimi dressed in Chinese robes.  

 

Priya Sundaravalli, a ceramic artist living in Aujroville in India, describes her native Indian experience of this goddess:

 

 

Lakshmi is essential for the start of most Hindu rituals and everyday practice. I remember that as a young girl growing up, my grandmother would insist that I light the oil lamp in the kitchen altar, just before dusk to welcome Lakshmi into the home, she would say. I do this almost every day even now, though I am not religiousS

 

In the relationship of Lakshmi with Moon, four qualities converge:  divine, female, shining, hope-giving.  

Priya Sundaravalli, a ceramic artist living in Auroville in India, says

 

The moon throws light on dark nights, so this hope-giving quality of Laksmi is subtly brought out with the comparison to the moon… the commentary is like the sprinkle of magic sparkle dust add a completeness. It brings out the full radiance of the brief poem.”

 

The poet Shinsho continues Basho’s adoration of Lakshmi. His stanza begins with the word atsurae which translates to "auspicious," the promise of good fortune from Lakshmi; then the Sun, still below the horizon to our eyes, shines on clouds around the high peak, so they appear as Lakshmi’s jeweled headdress. Thus the poet combines two goddess of two nations, the Indian Lakshimi and the Japanese Sun Goddess, to offer good fortune in the new day to come. The beauty of nature becomes the goddess.


Rabindranath Tagore speaks for women in The Home and the World


“For we women are not only the deities
                  of the household fire, 
        but the flame of the soul itself,”


and Basho expresses a similiar awareness in this stanza-pair:

 


Arising to blow on embers,

the wife of a bell ringer
Going and returning
she calls for her lost child
moonlight and stars

 

Okite hi o fuku / kanetsuki ga tsuma
Iki kaeri / mayoi-go yobaru / hoshi tsuki yo

 

(BRZ 5: 268) Before going to bed, she banked the fire, covering coals with ashes to remain alive till morning when she awakens them with her breath. Her husband wakes up the town, but Basho has eyes only for the wife, getting up in the freezing winter dawn to, like a goddess, awaken the hearth fire. She may be blowing directly onto the coals, or through a bamboo tube.  As usual, Basho focuses on the physical activity of a woman. Throughout the ages in every land before gas, electricity, timers, sensors, remote and automatic controls, women have gotten up early to awaken the fire as the wife does here. She is eternal, a goddess of fire, proclaimed by bells.


Basho’s follower Ranran continues this woman’s day: come evening she alerts the town to her child being lost. Both stanzas focus attention on the woman, her breath and her activity expressed by an abundance of lively active verbs. The stars in the night sky resemble the glowing embers in the ashes of the hearth.


Another poet and Basho wrote this beautiful ode to the female creation of life in 1683:

 

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

 

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

 

(BRZ 3: 158) Seeds of rice sprout, looking like ordinary grass, with no sign that four months later they will yield the staple food of Asia. We go from rice sprouting to woman giving birth to the child she loves, then return to Mother Earth giving birth to countless billion plants. Woman merges with Earth, each making herself beautiful, and within her beauty is the power of regeneration, the power to nurture life.


Tagore in a poem called The Beginning compliments Basho's image of "giving birth to love in the world" and also leads us to the Basho's tanka which follows.

                     

"Where have I come from, where did you pick me up?"         

the baby asked its mother. She answered half crying,

half laughing, and clasping the baby to her breast:                         

 

"You were hidden in my heart as its desire, my darling.

You were in the dolls of my childhood's games;              

and when with clay I made the image of my god every morning,   

I made and unmade you then…

 

When in girlhood my heart was opening its petals,           

you hovered as a fragrance about it.

Your tender softness bloomed in my youthful limbs,          

like a glow in the sky before the sunrise…

 

For fear of losing you I hold you tight to my breast.     

What magic has snared the world's treasure                     

in these slender arms of mine?"

 

 

Basho wrote the following tanka in the 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

 

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

 

(KBZ, vol. 71, page 285)  ‘Layers of blossom-kimono” has three areas of meaning - and women in India may transfer from "kimono" to "sari."                               

 

 1)  the two layers of kimono over an inner robe robe                                                                               2) the succession of blossom-kimono one woman passes through from bright to sedate as she ages;           

 3)   the kimono passing onto her daughter and granddaughter, the next layers of herself,                                       

Also “wrinkles” are both in the kimono and her skin.


Now your time begins, stretching to infinity before unfocused eyes. Soon you’ll be laughing and playing in the sunshine – that is, if no wars come and natural disasters, fatal illness, and financial ruin stay away too. (We recognize the hope in 17th century Japan that the peace enforced by the Tokugawa Shogunate will continue. So this tanka as an Ode to Peace, the blessing unfolds for newborn Kasane and all newborn girls.) 

 

 

One spring in youth, you shall be given your first blossom kimono. A formal kimono is a two layer silk robe meticulously folded and tucked around the body in flat, even layers. The colors and pattern are chosen in harmony with the woman’s age. A  blossom-kimono for a girl entering womanhood might be a soft pink with bold cherry blossom design on the lower portion. A thick brocade sash of a darker contrasting color encircles her waist. The red inner robe, suitable for a party, shows at the neckline, and where the left side of the skirt covers the right, margins of the kimono lining appear and disappear as she walks.

 

The springs shall come and go Each year as you sit with legs folded under you on the straw mat under the cherry trees, creases shall form in the fabric. Carefully, as your mother shows you, restore its silky smoothness for another year. May the day come for you to 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. May our nation remain at Peace and the happiness in your family pile up layer upon layer until wrinkles in the fabric no longer smooth out and you see wrinkles of old age cross your face. Do not despair, my child, for you live again and again as spring passes by and your granddaughters laugh and chatter in their blossom kimono.


The tanka offers Hope to the smallest females — Hope for a childhood without misfortune, Hope that she will grow into womanhood and see grandchildren. In his few simple words Basho speaks of what concerns women: the succession of life, the happiness of children — the conditions of peace, both social and family, in which little girls can dress up and party with relatives and friends, and life and prosperity goes on generation after generation.

 

The tanka SPRING PASSES BY offers Hope to small females —Hope for a childhood without misfortune, hope that she will grow into womanhood and see grandchildren. Basho speaks of what concerns women:  the succession of life, the happiness of children --  the conditions of Peace, both in society  and in family,  in which little girls can dress up and party with relatives and friends, and life goes on generation after generation.

 

In less than a single tweet, Basho encapsulates the life of one woman from newborn to wrinkles. Someday, if enough people ever know it exists, this poem may be recognized as the greatest work of Asian literature, a work so great it transcends the bounds of literature and culture to become a prayer for all humanity.

 

 Priya Sundaravalli is creating a work of ceramic art based on Basho's Kasane tanka for a private residence in southern India.  She says 

 

And I am hand 'making' hundreds of ceramic cherry blossoms... This repetitive meditative act of making multitudes of pink blossoms one by one, so as to be able to create 'layers upon layers' of flowers, seems to resonate with the 'hope-giving' name Kasane. 

 

Tagore praises not only the beauty of women, but also their power.

 

The heroines created by Tagore, in the short stories, during the third phase of his literary career (1913-41) are bold and emerge in a different image than as submissive ones. They are more emancipated and empowered to change and encounter their situations with self- defiance. This made Tagore a visionary for the cause of 'feminism' ... He has shown a remarkable understanding of a woman’s psyche, perceives the injustice of an unequal social structure, and advocates for gender freedom and decision making power of women in the family and in larger society.

                                                    

Basho in renku also was a visionary for the cause of feminism; he not only praises the beauty and divinity of women, but also empowers women to act together in solidarity. The stanza before the following was about a boat:

 

Her semblance of power

pebbles thrown in vain

Among women

one allowed to lead

them in chorus

 

Imagine a woman standing on the shore watching a boat carry away her lover. 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 one, become an anthem for women’s choral groups as well as for social and political movements. Women with power over your selves, join together in solidarity to repair the insanity male dominance has produced in this world. Who are the women who will lead us in chorus? 

 


                          basho4humanity@gmail.com 





<< Feminism from Murasaki to Basho (B-27) (C-01) Love and Sex in 17 Basho Renku, >>


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...
• Woman Central: Basho Honors Women and Girls

• 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
• 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