Misery pity aware


Human Misery and Pity

***** Location: Worldwide
***** Season: Non-seasonal Topic
***** Category: Humanity

fuuga 風雅 elegance - see below


Matsuo Basho

"Journal of Bleached Bones in a Field"
(translation by David Barnhill)

"I was walking along the Fuji River when I saw an abandoned child, barely two, weeping pitifully. Had his parents been unable to endure this floating world which is as wave-tossed as these rapids, and so left him here to wait out a life brief as dew? He seemed like a bush clover in autumn's wind that might scatter in the evening or wither in the morning. I tossed him some food from my sleeve and said in passing,

saru o kiku hito sutego ni aki no kaze ika ni

those who listen for the monkeys:
what of this child
in the autumn wind?

Why did this happen? Were you hated by your father or neglected by your mother? Your father did not hate you, your mother did not neglect you. This simply is from heaven, and you can only grieve over your fate."

According to the Japanese commentator Yamamoto
(from "Basho and His Interpreters," by Ueda):

"... [Basho] contrasted his genuine pity for the deserted child with the imaginary grief that Japanese poets put into their poems about the monkey's cry. It also meant that he became aware of a conflict within himself, a conflict between the spirit of 'fuuga', which he had hitherto cherished, and the humane feeling of pity aroused by the sight of an abandoned child."

Compiled by Larry Bole


you listening to a monkey—
to an abandoned child in the autumn
wind, what . . . ?

I have rendered the English a bit more closely to the original than most translators, who usually do not reflect the contrast between the poem’s longish opening phrases and abruptly ending rhythm (7–7–5) or the awkward mid-phrase break, and often fill in some blanks, making it obvious that the first line refers to a sound traditionally felt as sad, that presumably the child is crying, and that the last line might be expanded to “What would you say to (or do about) this dying child?” In other words, they like to tell us what the poem (supposedly) means in an expanded paraphrase, rather than letting us wrestle with it a bit ourselves.

As Makoto Ueda has pointed out, the Chinese conceit of sadness as the characteristic emotion of a monkey’s cry was well known to Bashô and shows up in Japanese poems as well (103–04). It appears in many Tang Dynasty poems, including, for English readers, Ezra Pound’s famous rendition of a Li Po poem entitled “The River Merchant’s Wife.” In the prose passage of the diary where Bashô’s poem appears, he tells of tossing some food to the child as he goes by. While some Western commentators on Bashô’s poem have decried the Master’s indifference, Japanese writers note that leaving a young child out to die was not unheard of in those difficult times, and that Bashô’s poem directly challenges the polite sadness of the Sino-Japanese tradition with this real-life example of a truly sad event.

William J. Higginson
source : www.modernhaiku.org


the monkey’s cry
a child abandoned
autumn wind

Tr. Michael Haldane

The people mentioned the monkey' sad cries,
What would they say about this child
Deserted in the autumn wind?

Tr. Oseko


source : itoyo/basho
River Fujigawa today 富士川

. Nozarashi Kiko  野ざらし紀行 .


An inscription on the painting of the three masters - Sanseizu no san

When a person fastens his mind on refinement and follows the [changes of] the four seasons, he will probably gaze at [something like] the inexhaustible grains of sand on a beach.
People who expressed such feelings, and became deeply affected by such things, were the masters of classical poetry. However, it would be difficult for people today to pursue the words of the masters whose art was flourishing in the era of Bunmai, as if they were the rules of today, as if embodying the truth.
The ever-changing of art [haikai] moves on with heaven and earth, and we should only value its never-ending . . . (Jonsson, p. 126-7)
(note: The following translation is more familiar and constantly quoted in the articles:
"The ever-changing nature of poetic art [fuga] changes together with heaven and earth. One respects the fact that the changes are never exhausted... ,"
source : Haruo Shirane

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


roadside picnic -
all the hungry kids
in Africa

Gabi Greve, February 2007

Related words

***** MORE hokku by Basho about

. - aware 哀れ touching, pityful,
to feel commpassion - .

mono no aware ものの哀れ the pity / pathos of things


fuuga, fūga 風雅 elegance
fuuga no makoto 風雅の誠


When Basho talks about fuga no makoto, this is normally interpreted as poetic sincerity. However, makoto also means truths, or true words, or true things. . . . In terms of poets, makoto is that which springs from their magokoro (true heart, or soul). Haiku is certainly capable of (local, particular) truths. Sometimes it is capable of universal truths and that is when great haiku poems are born.

Poetic truths, then, must be a criterion against which inferior and dubious haiku poems can be weeded out. Haiku is part of the haiku poet’s way of life. Haiku is partly what he or she is. If he or she is not truthful his or her haiku cannot be good poetry. In today’s climate where haiku values are confused, it is important for us to go back to such stringent criterion as poetic truths.

. . . probably the most important of all issues of haiku, fuga-no-makoto (poetic sincerity, honesty and truth).

This is the most important of all teachings of Basho.
Sadly, it is also the one value which is either missing or neglected in many haiku poems written today. One cannot stress the importance of it too much, or repeat it too often. Criticism of haiku against this value is always, yes always, justified. The problem is that it is no easy task for us to get to the true understanding of what was or is meant by fuga-no-makoto. It is even more difficult for us to explore what Basho would have taught us by this value in the 21st century context, or how much we can search for the 21st century solution to the problems posed by this value.

Some members might have thought that __ has gone on and on and on for too long in his inquisition. However, what he has really been doing was posing this most important of all questions, fuga-no-makoto. __ is a seeker of answers to fundamental issues of contemporary haiku, practised both in Japan and outside Japan, and is in a very rare position as a Westerner living in Japan and having access to the first-line materials but looking at them both through the Japanese eyes and Western background, giving the feedback to the Western haijin.

There is this fundamentally difficult question: be true to the facts but facts are not automatically and/or empirically the same thing as truth; be true to your imagination but imaginations are by definition not facts but that does not mean that imaginations are not truths. Basho used both facts and imaginations.
Not only there is nothing wrong with human imaginations but they are one of our best additions to whatever has been designed for nature. Fuga-no-makoto is the key. The Westerners are no less qualified to try to search for the true meaning of this aesthetic canon, particularly in the WHC context, i.e. the world-wide relevance.
source : Susumu Takiguchi, WHR

- - - - -

. yo ga fuuga wa karo toosen no gotoshi .
(winter) handfan in winter. my elegance. fireplace in summer

. sekizoro no kureba fuuga mo shiwasu kana .
December Singers (sekizoro) in Edo


fuuryuu, fûryû 風流 Furyu, elegant, tasteful, refined

Fûryû is an important aesthetic concept in traditional Japanese culture, but the precise meaning of the term has been a complicated issue. It derives from the Chinese word fengliu. Literally meaning “wind flowing (blowing),” fengliu in Chinese texts has multiple implications.

It has been used as a metaphor for the unpredictability of human existence, a word for the popular customs and mores of a society, a term for exceptional literary styles, and a description of elegant but unconventional behavior and aesthetic taste inspired by Daoist teaching and Buddhist thought. In some texts it also is used to mean the heightened appreciation and expression of sensual-aesthetic experiences and sensibilities, or to imply an amorous, flamboyant quality.

By the Song dynasty (960– 1279), all the meanings associated with fengliu already were being commonly used in Chinese texts. Along with the introduction of Chinese texts into Japan over the centuries, the multiple meanings of fengliu/fûryû blended with native Japanese thoughts and the definition of the term in Japanese became even more difficult to pinpoint.

According to Okazaki Yoshie’s comprehensive survey of its multiple usages in Japanese texts, the earliest Japanese text that contains the word fûryû is Manyôshû, in which the term is given phonetic transcriptions in a native Japanese reading, miyabi, meaning “elegant” or “unworldly re¤nement.”

However, other early Japanese texts, particularly Buddhist didactic literature such as Nihon ryôiki (Record of spirits and miracles in Japan, ca. 823), give fûryû a different reading, misao, which means “virtuousness” or “integrity.” In the later Heian texts, such as Bunkyô hifuron (Mirrors of literature: Treatises of the secret treasury, 819–820), Honchô monzui (The best writings of Japan, ca. 1058–1064), and the prefaces of imperial poetic anthologies, fûryû is written mostly in Chinese. Therefore it is hard to tell how the term is read in Japanese. But the contexts in which fûryû appears suggest that the term in these works primarily refers to bunga (C. wenya), the elegance of letters, and sometimes also to the wonder of scenic beauty.

. . . . . Fûryû in haikai often has been discussed in conjunction with fûga (elegance of literature). It has been noted that in haikai poetics, fûga is used to refer to the art of haikai specifically, whereas fûryû has a much broader meaning and refers to something more fundamental.
Okazaki observes that in Bashô’s works fûga refers to literature, especially haikai and the haikai spirit, while fûryû gives fûga its poetic quality.
Fûryû in Edo period popular fiction often implies an amorous, even erotic, quality, but this contemporary trend shows no influence in Bashô’s concept of fûryû.

source : Basho-and-the-Dao - Peipei-Qiu

In Oku no hosomichi, for example, Bashô writes about his visit to a painter at Sendai.
He tells us that when the time came for him to leave, the painter gave him some drawings and two pairs of straw sandals with their laces dyed deep blue. Bashô comments on the sandals:
“It was with the last gifts that he demonstrated most clearly his character as a connoisseur of fûryû.”

. WKD - Oku no Hosomichi - Station 18 - Sendai 仙台 -


fuukyoo, fûkyô  風狂 poetic eccentricity
the Shômon poetry also enthusiastically celebrates deliberate eccentricity and unconventionality as fûryû.

kyôsha eccentric

This passage reveals the criteria of the Shômon School that valued fûkyô and fûryû.

sekibaku (tranquility and solitude)
Haikai has three elements.
Sekibaku is its mood. While having fine dishes and beautiful women, one finds true joy in humble solitude.
Fûryû is its quality. While dressed in brocaded silks and satins, one does not forget those who are wrapped in woven straw.
Fûkyô is its language. One’s language should stem from emptiness and represent the substance of things.
It is very difficult to stay with the substance of things while joining in emptiness. These three elements don’t imply that a person who is “low” aspires to the high, but rather that a person who has attained the high perceives through the low.

source : Basho-and-the-Dao - Peipei-Qiu


fuugetsu, fūgetsu 風月 to enjoy the beauty of nature
lit, "wind and moon"

"ka cho - fuei" (kachoo fuuei 花鳥諷詠)  

haiku must center on the nature itself.
( kacho: ka = flower, cho = butterfly : representatives of the nature )
The poet should write about things
"ari no mama ありのまま", as it is.

kachoo fuugetsu 花鳥風月 flowers, birds, wind, moon
kacho fugetsu, the traditional themes of natural beauty in Japanese aesthetics, representing the beauty of nature.

. Takahama Kyoshi 高浜 虚子 .

fuugetsu no sai mo hanareyo fukami-gusa
fūgetsu no zai mo hanareyo fukamigusa

going beyond even
the art of wind and moon:
peony blossoms

Tr. Barnhill

Written in summer of 1693 元禄6年

zai, sai 財 refers to sainoo 才能 talent, gift for, ability to do well
fukamigusa 深見艸 is another name for botan, peony.

MORE - Cultural Keywords used by
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .


Monkeys enjoying a hot spring in winter

. WKD : monkey, saru 猿 .

Mono no aware: subtleties of understanding
C.B. Liddell
. . . . . the appreciation of things in the shadow of their future absence.
. Mono no aware: subtleties of understanding - essay .


- - - - - Japanese aesthetics
1 Shinto-Buddhism
2 Wabi-sabi
3 Miyabi
4 Shibui
5 Iki
6 Jo-ha-kyū
7 Yūgen
8 Geidō
9 Ensō
- - -Fukinsei: asymmetry, irregularity; Kanso: simplicity; Koko: basic, weathered; Shizen: without pretense, natural; Yugen: subtly profound grace, not obvious; Datsuzoku: unbounded by convention, free; Seijaku: tranquility.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !




Gabi Greve - Basho archives said...

Matsuo Basho

fuuryuu no hajime ya Oku no taue uta

The beginning of all art:
a song when planting a rice field
in the country's inmost part.

Tr. Henderson


Gabi Greve - Buson said...

Yosa Buson

harusame ya mono kakanu mi no aware naru

spring rain -
I can not write a thing
and feel so sad

spring rain

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Japanese Aesthetics エスセティクス - Nihon no bigaku 日本の美学

The most common terms for aesthetics and design will be introduced here.

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Japanese Aesthetics エスセティクス - Nihon no bigaku 日本の美学

The most common terms for aesthetics and design will be introduced here.