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100 Poems from the Japanese by Kenneth…

100 Poems from the Japanese (original 1955; edition 1955)

by Kenneth Rexroth (Translator)

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382341,282 (3.86)5
Title:100 Poems from the Japanese
Authors:Kenneth Rexroth (Translator)
Info:New Directions (1955), Edition: First Edition, 140 pages
Collections:Your library

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One Hundred Poems from the Japanese by Kenneth Rexroth (1955)



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A nice collection of poems translated by Kenneth Rexroth at the time the Beat movement in San Francisco was emerging; the same year, 1955, saw him MC’ing famous poetry readings of Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and others. His introduction concentrates a bit too much on the process of translation and not enough on the poets themselves – e.g. who were these people? – but Rexroth does a good job nonetheless, both in his selection of poems and in the simplicity with which he translates them, which (I believe) helps preserve some of their subtlety.

My favorites:

On anxiety, from the monk Shun-E:
All during a night
Of anxiety I wait.
At last the dawn comes
Through the cracks of the shutters,
Heartless as night.

On dreams, from Fujiwara No Toshiyuki:
In the Bay of Sumi
The waves crowd on the beach.
Even in the night
By the corridor of dreams,
I come to you secretly.

On love’s uncertainty, from Lady Horikawa:
Will he always love me?
I cannot read his heart.
This morning my thoughts
Are as disordered
As my black hair.

On love which passes, from Yakamochi:
We were together
Only a little while,
And we believed our love
Would last a thousand years.

On memory, from Akahito:
The mists rise over
The still pools at Asuka.
Memory does not
Pass away so easily.

On night, from an anonymous poet:
The cicada sings
In the rotten willow.
Antares, the fire star,
Rolls in the west.

On old age, from Hitomaro:
A strange old man
Stops me,
Looking out of my deep mirror.

On pain, from Oe No Chisato:
As I watch the moon
Shining on pain’s myriad paths,
I know I am not
Alone involved in Autumn.

On parting, from Hitomaro:
In the Autumn mountains
The colored leaves are falling.
If I could hold them back,
I could still see her. ( )
1 vote gbill | Dec 3, 2011 |
I borrowed this from the library during National Poetry Month (April) when I realized I hadn't familiarized myself tankas in a long while. A tanka is one of the short poetry forms (31 syllables, broken in to five 5-7-5-5-5 syllable lines) that the Japanese poets made famous. There's also so haiku, and longer poems as well. All the poems have the original Japanese and English translation side by side.These poems are meant to be simple little caps to the previous evening, written the morning after. I loved the simplicity in the topics, and the relatability of the poetry even after surviving hundreds of years. ( )
  pocketmermaid | Jun 7, 2010 |
This is a selection of classic Japanese poetry in translation (the original Japanese is there too). The poems, mostly tanka/waka, are not my favorite selection -- mostly court poetry without a lot of the intensity nor the imagery common in later Japanese haiku and tanka. Nevertheless, the translations seem fairly good and the poems are all quite accessible. ( )
1 vote tombrinck | May 13, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0811201813, Paperback)

It is remarkable that any Westerner—even so fine a poet as Kenneth Rexroth—could have captured in translation so much of the subtle essence of classic Japanese poetry: the depth of controlled passion, the austere elegance of style, the compressed richness of imagery.

The poems are drawn chiefly from the traditional Manyoshu, Kokinshu and Hyakunin Isshu collections, but there are also examplaes of haiku and other later forms. The sound of the Japanese texts i reproduced in Romaji script and the names of the poets in the calligraphy of Ukai Uchiyama. The translator's introduction gives us basic background on the history and nature of Japanese poetry, which is supplemented by notes on the individual poets and an extensive bibliography.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:02 -0400)

Presents 100 Japanese poems drawn chiefly from the traditional "Manyoshu," "Kokinshu," and "Hyakunin Isshu" collections as well as haiku and other forms.

(summary from another edition)

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