River of Stars: Selected Poems

River of Stars: Selected Poems

by Akiko Yosano

She is the author of more than seventy-five books, including twenty volumes of original poetry and the definitive translation into modern Japanese of the Tale of the Genji.

Included are ninety-one of Akiko's tanka (a traditional five-line form of verse) and a dozen of her longer poems written in the modern style.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Poetry
  • Rating: 4.37
  • Pages: 154
  • Publish Date: March 18th 1997 by Shambhala
  • Isbn10: 1570621462
  • Isbn13: 9781570621468

Read the Book "River of Stars: Selected Poems" Online

Among other things, she published some 75 books, of which 20 were her own poetry; she translated The Tale of Genji into modern Japanese (her translation is claimed by some to be definitive); she was a feminist, a pacifist (look at her dates again!), a scholar and a social activist; and on the side she managed to raise 11 children (two others died young). Yosano's tanka cover a wide range of topics, including many found in the classical Japanese poems whose form she has adopted. There are many poems about young monks and temptation: From her shoulder, falling over the sutra, a strand of unruly hair. The modern form poems are longer, too long to quote for the most part, and they, well they remind me of modern American poems of the kind I don't hate but don't love, either. The art form of tanka was vitiated when it was handed over to Yosano.

Beautiful poems. The burden of early spring." --- "While mother begins chanting a deathbed sutra, beside her, the tiny feet of her infant, oh so beautiful to see" --- "Where gentle spring winds scatter pale cherry blossoms near the pagoda, on the wings of mourning doves I shall write my poems" --- "Rather than trying to touch the burning passion pulsing beneath my soft pale skin, you preach morality Aren't you awfully lonely?" --- "Friends, please don't ask whatever remains of love. It is the cross we bear." --- "My shiny black hair fallen into disarray, a thousand tangles, like a thousand tangled thoughts about my love for you" --- "A huge array of brilliant colored spring flowers line the casket of my beautiful friend." --- "Ignoring the ways of right and wrong, eternal life or lasting fame, we turn to face each other, loved and lover, face to face." --- "Mountain Moving Day Mountain moving day has come Is what I say. You'd better believe it! All the sleeping women move Now that they awaken." --- "First Labor Pains I am feeling bad today. I am simply alone in heaven and on earth.

XXXXXX My shiny black hair fallen into disarray, a thousand tangles, like a thousand tangled thoughts about my love for you.

Her Tanka poetry was erotically charged and showed women to be just as sexual, complex and assertive as men. The eroticism present in the poetry may seem a little subdued but I think it must be kept in mind how conservative Japan was at the time of publication. How much this poem breaks with traditional Tanka I am not sure but it is placing the poets body at the centre of the poem and using it to trigger memories of erotic journeys. So this poem while presenting elements of loss and absence could also underline this with a message of sexual passion for the lover. Despite Yosanos work being tradition breaking and erotically charged I style find it has a quality of understatement that seems to characterise Japanese poetic forms. This collection is a must I think for lovers and writers of Tanka.

But I am happy to truly be discovering more and more of Japanese literature beyond my usual, male authors.