Emily Dickinson: It struck me every day
Rahel weeping for her children

Izumi Shikibu: Why did you vanish into the empty sky?

Why did you vanish
into the empty sky?
Even the fragile snow,
when it falls,
falls in this world.

               --Izumi Shikibu (和泉式部) b 976?, woman poet of the Heian period, Japan. Her daughter, also a gifted poet, died in childbirth. Translation by Jane Hirshfield and Mariki Aratani in The Ink Dark Moon..



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I am curious to know whom you contacted (if anyone) for permission to display the Hirschfield text. Here is the Japanese version I have. I wish I could tell you what book it came out of, but I don't know other than that my sister found it in the library at UC Berkeley. The context comment follows in brackets. (Hirshfield's translations of the comments apparently are much looser than those of the poems.)



Showing furigana is a problem here, but Rikaichan or the appendix of "The Ink Dark Moon" will tell you the readings.

Hello Robert,
I didn't contact anybody-- but I believe it's fair use, as it's the kind of excerpt people use in reviews. It is a beautiful translation. I do include a link to buy the book (I bought it myself). Thank you very much for the Japanese.

FWIW (in case you didn't know), the poem is in Ancient Japanese and therefore not easily understood even by most Japanese speakers, unless they are specialists. It is much like most Americans would be with Middle English, only this poem is older than anything written in Middle English.

Thank you so much for the information. My Japanese is very limited.

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