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The Aged Mother
Transcript of The Aged Mother
The Aged Mother
by Matsuo Basho
The story of the aged mother is a folktale from Japan. The leader proclaimed a law ordering that all the aged people should be put to death. The order filled the heart of the poor farmer a great sorrow for he loves his mother so much. Instead of putting her mother to death in the hand of the cruel law he decided to give his mother a kind mode of death. He took his mother to the bare summit of Obatsuyama- the mountain of the “Abandoning of the Aged” and planned to leave her there. On their way to the said mountain the heart of the loving mother grew anxious for she knew that her son will have a hard time finding his way back because he was not familiar to the many mountain paths. What she did was to snap the twigs of the bushes they passed and drop it silently on the path to serves as a guide on the way back of her poor child.
“Let not thine eyes be blind, my son.” “The mountain road is full of danger. Look carefully and follow the path which holds the piles of twigs. They will guide thee to the familiar way farther down”.- These lines shows the unconditional love that the mother has for her son, an unselfish love that smote the heart of the poor child and made him cry and decided to take his mother with him back to their home.
He hid his mother on a walled closet for food beneath the kitchen. Time passed and one day the leader sent a messenger and again demanded that the people of the valley present him a with a rope of ashes. To the despair of the poor farmer he told the news to his hidden mother. And her mother luckily came up with the idea and told him to make a rope of twisted straw and burn it on a windless night. The despotic ruler was pleased of what he had witnessed and asks the poor farmer where he obtained that kind of knowledge. The poor farmer stated everything and he listened and meditated in silence. Upon hearing the story he now decided to abolish the cruel law, and sees the importance of the elder to shape the society and said “with the crown of snow, there cometh wisdom”.
The aged mother - who was supposed to be put to death , main Protagonist
The son - a farmer who couldn't leave his mother and hid her instead
The despotic leader - who passed a decree that all old people shall be killed
A famous poet and writer during the Edo Period in Japan
Born 1644 and Died 1694
Famous for his works in
Haiku no Renga
or linked verse poetry
Said to be the greatest master of
Worked as a teacher before turning himself to isolation so as to focus in his poetry
Poems were inspired by firsthand experience of the world around him
Famous works include
Kai Ōi (The Seashell Game) (1672)
Sarumino ("Monkey's Raincoat") (1691)
Oku no Hosomichi (Narrow Road to the Interior) (1694)
The town of Shinano , at the foot of the mountain
Obatsuyama (Abondining of the Aged)
Point of View
Third Person or Omniscient
Man vs Man
“A mother’s love is something that no one can explain. It is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice and pain, it is endless and unselfish”.
- Helen Steiner Rice
"With age comes wisdom but sometimes,
age comes alone"
Long long time ago, at the foot of the mountain, there lived a poor farmer and his aged, widowed mother.This place was governed by a despotic and cruel leader which once proclaimed that all aged people should immediately put to death by abandoning them to the mountain of Obatsuyama until their death came.
The poor farmer loved his aged mother and the order filled his heart with sorrow. So with many deep hopeless sighs, the youth prepared some food and started their painful journey up to the mountain.
At last, they reach the summit. The weary and heartsick youth gently released his old mother. Before he live his mother, the old woman told his son about the mark of the pile of twigs that will guide him to the way home. At that point, the farmer realizes that whatever happens he should not left his mother alone. So he decided that both of them will go home and will die together.
Both of them follow the pile of twigs and went home. He hide his mother at a closet of their kitchen so that,the Heralds in Shinano will not find the old woman. Time passed, the farmer feel safe until again, the despotic leader sent fort Heralds with his command. He wanted someone to present to him a rope of ashes.
One night, the son told his hidden mother about the command. The old woman think of an idea. She commanded her son to make a rope twisted straw and stretch it upon a row of flat stones and burn it there into the windless night. With the help of other people, they successfully made it and present to the governor. The governor was pleased at the wit of the youth, and from that, his cruel law was abolished. The governor awakened in the truth and remembered the saying ´With the crown of snow, there cometh wisdomµ. That very hour, the cruel leader become kind and humble to his people.
barbarous - uncivilized; wild; savage; crude.
reverence - a feeling or attitude of deep respect
mandate - an authoritative order or command
gourd - the hard-shelled fruit of any of various
plants, commonly seeded.
hastening - to move or act with swiftness of
motion or speed
injunction - a judicial process or order requiring
the person or persons to whom it is
directed to do a particular act or to refrain from doing a particular act.
smote - to strike or hit hard
shriveled - to contract and wrinkle, as from great
heat, cold, or dryness.
heralds - a royal or official messenger, especially
one representing a monarch in an ambassadorial capacity during wartime.
dread - to fear greatly