Saturday, June 12, 2004

Kenneth Rexroth - One Hundred Poems from the Japanese

Now here's a guy with taste; he's a fan of Kenneth Rexroth's masterful translations of Japanese tanka drawn mostly from the Manyoshu and Kokinshu.

I wish I were close
To you as the wet skirt of
A salt girl to her body.
I think of you always.

- Yamabe no Akahito

I think of the days
Before I met her
When I seemed to have
No troubles at all.

- Fujiwara No Atsutada

The pheasant of the mountain,
Tiring to the feet,
Spreads his tail feathers.
Through the long, long night
I sleep alone.

- Kakinomoto No Hitomaro
I'd like to be able to say that a fellow who appreciates such excellence can't be half bad, but one never knows with people. Still, I thank him for going to the effort of putting this snippet online; it's being able to read material like this in the original that makes having learnt Japanese worthwhile.