Monday, June 01, 2009

Lady Poets of Japan

Chobunsai Eishi (1756-1829) depicting Shunzei no Musume

This poet,
from a family of famous poets,
may have been the author
of Japan's first book
of literary criticism (12th C.)

Okumura Masanobu (1686-1764) depicting Murasaki Shikubu

My favorite writer!
I had never imagined her
quite that full bodied

Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815) depicting Murasaki Shikubu

Yes, I imagine her more like this

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) depicting Ono no Komachi

This early Heian poet
is famous
for the poetry of courtly romance.
She is legendary as a great beauty
who, unfortunately,
lived long enough to lose it
and then regret her wayward youth.

In this exhibit,
she is depicted more often
than anyone else,
and usually these images
show people standing in the rain
which was summoned
by one of her poems.

(here's a version from Boston)

Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) depicting Sei Shonagon

and this is exactly
how I would imagine
this worldly lady

with a sharp eye,
and a sharper tongue.

Chobunsai Eishi (1756-1829) depicting Ukon

Utagawa Toyokuni

To remind us
of how different
lady poets are from courtesans
here is an image
that combines both ideas

Chobunsai Eishi

several of these poets
have been translated
by my favorite beatnik


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats a nicelady sei
some show at fai?

June 01, 2009  
Blogger Robert said...

beatnik? I enjoyed the translation he has done anyway. I have a lot of catching up to do. Conrad visited my exhibition, very good to see him. AJS invited me to be a visitor to her blog and I'll have to fine the password.

June 04, 2009  
Anonymous marly youmans said...

Rexroth? Whenever I think of him, I remember the poetry section at Chapel Hill's university bookshop, where somebody taped up a quote from him: "People who say they love poetry and never buy any are sons-of-bitches."

I really enjoyed this little anthology!

Have been overrun but have not abandoned you. I'll just have to catch up later. We're almost out of school: Regents exams this week and next.

June 17, 2009  

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