By Kenneth Rexroth
The poems are drawn mainly from the normal Manyoshu, Kokinshu and Hyakunin Isshu collections, yet there also are examplaes of haiku and different later kinds. The sound of the japanese texts i reproduced in Romaji script and the names of the poets within the calligraphy of Ukai Uchiyama. The translator's creation supplies us easy history at the heritage and nature of jap poetry, that's supplemented by means of notes at the person poets and an intensive bibliography.
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Adam and Eve knew such perfection once,
God's finger within the cloud, and at the ground
Nothing yet springtime, not anything else at all.
But in our fallen nation the place the blood hunts
For blood, and rises on the looking sound,
What can we understand of lasting because the fall?
Who has now not, within the oil and warmth of youth,
Thought of the flourishing of the almond tree,
The grasshopper, and the failing of desire,
And concept his tongue may perhaps pierce the secrecy
Of the six-pointed starlight, and can choir
A secret-voweled, unutterable truth?
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Additional info for 100 Poems from the Japanese
O Lordy, dry my throat out Page 17 like the fish heads in the sun, give me the fresh hot pig blood to drink, give me the meat of castor bean, the juice of unboiled poke to quench my sin. Burn up my sin with your love. Let me see into the lightning center of your sight; burn out my eyes. Ooooh Jeeesus, fisher man, throw out your net and pull me in and let me be worthy to be caught, worthy to be set before you to break with bread. O farmer god, plow-master and driver, drive me with the burning love.
Page 21 The Murder of Melchior Hoade heard them from his study calling out, saw the torches through his windows, and he thought, Has God sent me newly Elect? But going out, he saw into their eyes, saw flung down at his door what first in the darkness he thought a smoldering log, till his eyes adjusted and he smelled the burned meat of man. " Did you send me here for this, O Lord? Is this the promised fruit of Kansas fields? I swore no swords if love were shields but will not bear a thing this hard.
I went to say my sin: that I was a poet and idolatrous at that, for there's a girl! And quit the verse; God didn't die for you to write poetry! Fol de rol and rot; Page 44 stirs up the kids, gives them ideas. " But I told him, "God's not as mean as you'd have Him be. He wouldn't damn a boy for loving gently, since women are what the world loves best, are heaven's fairest flowers-next to God, of course. Every joy is heaven made, and misery's hell's domain. You've got to preach; I've got to write.
100 Poems from the Japanese by Kenneth Rexroth