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A Japanese Poem in the Chinese Style


dedalus
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il_fullxfull.142052513.jpg

 

Winter winds

invade from the north

scouring and blasting

the inner walls, rocking

the heavy dark posts

of the temple gate

 

Last summer

under cicada sounds

and falling blossoms

we sat apart on green

tatami mats, sipping

fresh new tea from Uji

 

You have gone

to Tokiwa in the north

to the home of your uncle

and I have gone

in duty, as I told you

far south to Kagoshima

 

Many many leagues

separate our dwellings

and there are no more

blossoms, nor tea from Uji

but the moon understands

and smiles upon us both

Edited by dedalus

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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You should not label an excellent poem for purpose of some needless subterfuge. Though this one has a definite Japanese quality, it would be great if you'd now explain why this is in the Chinese style. The rest of us (except Lake) are quite likely not sufficiently exposed to the latter to tell. The closest taste I have of what may be a sample of Chinese style are the 'Cold Mountain Poems'.

 

I think this is your first exceedingly good poem, so you can call it Russian style Chechen poem if you wish, and I will read and enjoy it anyway. Again and again.

Edited by waxwings
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The poem is fantastic, Brendan, the way it imparts the sense of longing experienced by the two who are apart. I like how the reason for the temporary separation is not included, leaving the reader to ponder it and the nature of the speaker's "duty." And of course the moon functions as a connector for the two, because each can see it at the same time from his geographic location ...

 

Tony

 

 

PS -- I love the picture, too. Thanks for including it!

Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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A breath of fresh air- remarkable for its clarity and powerful images- LOVED it;-)

 

DC&J

thegateless.org Come on over and check out my poetry substack y'all;-) Or if your bored, head to the Zazzle store: https://www.zazzle.com/store/gateless. If you buy anything I lose a bet, so consider that before you violate the digital rules.

 

Gate(less.png

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Thanks, all - or, rather, arigatou gozaimasu. The theme is Japanese, waxy, but the format is looser and more extended than tradional waka or tanka, i.e. more Chinese. Now, as for my Chechen poem in the Russian style ....

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Brendan,

 

Yes, I like it very much. It's very neat and succinct, and definately has a Chinese feel to it, especially the last two lines. Without the names of the places and "tatami", I can't tell if it is a Japanese poem or a Chinese poem. I also like the ink and wash painting, which adds an oriental taste.

 

Your poem reminds me of kenneth Rexroth who translated a lot of Chinese poems. Here is one of his Imitations of the Chinese:

 

The Fall Of Ch'ou

 

Jade pendants chime before the dawn audience.

Peach blossoms drown in the swollen stream.

Barbarian fires overwhelm the guards.

Together two skylarks rise towards heaven.

Two hearts singing like chiming jade.

 

 

You are gifted writer.

 

Lake

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Hi Brendan, This is simply beautiful. It has a gentle serenity which is very "Zen". Almost as if the stroke of the brush with which one creates the characters is encorporated into the content. The simplicity and economy of words is very Asian, the landscape Japanese, the fluid imagery Chinese. No hint of the lyrical Irishman I have come to recognize except for the ever present gift of story telling.

 

I love your historical narratives that inform and entertain but I think I even love this gentler side. I hope you have more of these to share here.

 

~~Tink

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have nearly endless tales of hatred, war, betrayal, love gone wrong ... all the material of the great epics (Celtic, Greek and German) to be found in the profoundly passionate literature of Europe. After a while you just get tired of the repetitions: are they idiots or children or what? That's where the Chinese come in. It couldn't have been as beautiful and as placid as they make it seem but it was far far away in a different time and you can just about believe it. I'm not a violent person but I won't walk away from a fight and I've done voluntary military service. I reckon you need to stand up for what you believe in, which is in essence, freedom. Not only the political freedom of our narrow choice in elections, but the real freedom of expression, saying exactly what you think, and the freedom of association, hanging out with people you like. Those are the two that mean the most to me.

 

I like living in Japan because I don't have to pay attention to public discourse, such as it is. I just ignore the State and the Emperor and the politicians. I pay my taxes (within reason) and get along easily with colleagues, friends and neighbours. I know from history that this could change overnight if a sudden war were declared ... unlikely, sure, but just imagine ... and I also know that many of my Japanese friends would hide me from the police, protect me, and get me the hell out on a fishing boat to the Philippines or somewhere safe. Friendships and obligations, personal relationships, trump racial or national differences any day of the week. It's just a fact.

 

I speak pretty good Japanese. People ought to learn the language of the country they live in, especially if they renew their contract for a second or third year. The one-year or even two-year people have an excuse: after all, Japanese is incredibly difficult to learn!! It took me several hours a day for about five years. I had a lot of help from drinking buddies and, dare I say, girlfriends. The trouble was their languages were totally different!! I love the Japanese people, not their government or foreign policy or economic strategies, but the people I have come to know.

 

I could say the same thing about Texans and Americans in general. Texas I grew to love because I lived there as a student at UT in Austin in the hill country, and as a constant visitor to New Braunfels and San Antonio in the south. The north left me cold as a fish on a slab: I never got close to liking Dallas, or Amarillo, or even Oklahoma. Redneck country, at the time: pickup trucks with a shotgun rack. Are you saved, young man?

 

Yup. Drive on.

 

Friends and lovers? I need not only my fingers but toes to count them, but I don't think I'll ever go back. Been there, done it, doesn't quite explain how I feel ... just don't want to visit. I feel an aversion of sorts and just want to stay away from it. This could come across as offensive but I don't mean it that way. I just want to stay away from America, as far as possible, and not get tangled up in its self-absorbed fantasies and its often belligerent and half-thought-out international interventions ...

 

The ideal would be half a year in Ireland (with visits to France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, never mind the UK) from about April to September and the rest of the year in Japan. That's the dream, so where is the money? I couldn't live the year round in Ireland without going mad thanks to the eejits who live in the place. Six months is pushing it.

 

Anyway, a few unrhyming thoughts ... (I just got on a roll)

 

Bren

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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It is nice to learn something more intimate from those I, by virtue of hunger to share significant attitudes as well as writing on this electronic and otherwise hollow desert.

 

Write more poems and leave those wondrous tales of events/scenes that make you sound a bit militant.

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Many many leagues

separate our dwellings

and there are no more

blossoms, nor tea from Uji

but the moon understands

and smiles upon us both

 

 

I love this final verse, most particularly because of the feeling

that the moon somehow ties them together. A fan of the moon

and a fan of beautiful words describing that to which I can relate.

 

A lovely piece of work. I have read it several times and will

probably enjoy it a few more.

 

mq

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