TANKA TAKE HOME - 14 September 2021

hosts: Firdaus Parvez & Kala Ramesh “Kaku bakari / kaze wa huke domo / ita no ma mo / awane ba tsuki no / kage sae zo moru”



Although the wind

blows terribly here,

the moonlight also leaks

between the roof planks

of this ruined house.

- Izumi Shikibu



Izumi Shikibu (974?–1034?) wrote during the time of the court culture’s greatest flowering; a woman committed to a life of both religious consciousness and erotic intensity, Shikibu explored her experience in language that is precise in observation, intimate, lyrical, and deeply moving...

...This poem’s power and resonance emerge when one reads it as a Buddhist statement: it is in the midst of poverty and suffering that the moonlight of enlightenment is able to enter the human heart. A more literal translation of the poem is “Although the wind blows hard [literally, like this], the moon’s light also leaks in when the wooden planks don’t meet.”

The Ink Dark Moon - Love poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu.


Women of Ancient Court of Japan.

Translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani


(This book has the English translation of poems by two great Japanese women tanka poets. It also has the original Japanese versions and if anyone wants to read how they have translated the verses, we recommend that you buy the book. We can only post the tanka and probably a short excerpt. There’s a good portion of the book dedicated to the translation method.)


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