More Japanese Poetry

Again, from Carter’s Traditional Japanese Poetry

Sugawara no Michizane

Idle Thoughts on a Winter Night

Beneath eaves of white thatch, before the hearth–
the servant boy who was at my side leans against the wall, asleep.
My calendar says only a month of winter remains–
which means I have been magistrate here now for three years.
By nature I don’t like wine–but sorrow it hard to dispel;
with my heart set on poems, I cannot conduct government.
So with a thousand thoughts about my plight I sit–
while beyond the window the sky announces dawn’s approach.

An anonymous poet, from the Spring sequence of Kokinshu

It is not as though
springtime came to some villages
and not to others.
Why then may we see flowers
blooming and failing to bloom?

Another poem from the same sequence, by Tsurayuki

Observe how the haze
of spring spread its gauzy mantle
on Miwa Mountain:
might flowers be blooming there
of which men have no knowledge?

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Japanese Poetry

As a change of pace, some selections from Traditional Japanese Poetry trans. Steven D. Carter

A poem written by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro when Prince Karu took lodging in the fields of Aki

Off to the eastward,
the first shimmer of daylight
rises on the fields–
and when I turn round to see,
the moon is sinking away

Another by the same author

You wave-plovers
of dusk on the Omi Sea–
each time you cry out
my heart withers within me,
set on things of long ago

By Sami Mansei, one of my favorites in the whole collection:

Our life in this world–
to what shall I compare it?
It is like a boat
rowing out at break of day,
leaving not a trace behind.