Selected Poems of Anna Akhmatova


The pillow hot
On both sides,
The second candle
Dying, the ravens
Crying. Haven’t
Slept all night, too late
To dream of sleep. . .
How unbearably white
The blind on the white window.
Good morning, morning!

No, it is not I, it is someone else who is suffering.
I could not have borne it. And this thing which has happened,
Let them cover it with black cloths,
And take away the lanterns. . .

poems I love from Anna Akhmatova’s selected poems




The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa


“Dreams are severed fruit
Auburn pears have fallen in the field
Parsley blooms on the plate
Sometimes the leghorn appears to have six toes
I crack and egg and the moon comes out.”

“Rains like flower petals.
Hit by a heavy weight, insects descend the tree shade.
Gathering at the mast wall, trailing a faint breeze – sounds are killed by the sun, the waves.
My skeleton places white flowers upon it.
Interrupted by thoughts, fish climb the cliffs.”

“A butterfly landed on the pipe organ on the rooftop garden
The unseasonable syllables wrench the lady’s heart
The bouquet is torn away    the fire does not burn
Outside the window a deer passes by, trampling on the stars
At the ocean bottom, fish mock the weather    people put on their glasses
This year, too, the widowed moon deceives its age.”

some of the poems I enjoyed from Chika Sagawa’s collected poems

The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems


“I thought those white clouds
were gathered around
some distant peak,
but already
they have risen between us.”

“My longing for you–
too strong to keep within bounds.
At least no one can blame me
when I go to you at night
along the road of dreams.”

“This morning
even my morning glories
are hiding,
not wanting to show
their sleep-mussed hair.”

“Seeing the moonlight
spilling down
through these trees,
my heart fills to the brim
with autumn.”

some of my favorite poems from The Ink Dark Moon

The Chieko Poems by Kotaro Takamura


Lemon Dirge

You longed so for a lemon
on your sad, white bright deathbed.
Your pretty teeth crunched
the lemon you took from my hands.
An aroma the color of topaz arose.
Those few dew drops from heaven suddenly brought back your mind.
Your blue-bright eyes smiled dimly.
You squeezed my hand so tight.
In your throat a storm raged,
but at the brink of this life
you became the Chieko of old.
All of life’s love
leaned into an instant,
and then once
as you did long ago on a mountaintop,
you drew a deep breath
and your engine stopped.
Today in the shadow of cherry blossoms
before your photograph
I place a cool, bright lemon.

my favorite poem from The Chieko Poems

Hojoki by Kamo no Chomei


“In this time,
my best intentions foiled,
I came to understand
my hopeless luck.

in my fiftieth spring
I retired from the world.”

“Then in winter–
It settles
just like human sin
and melts,
in atonement.”

“The hermit crab prefers a tiny shell
aware of its needs.

Ospreys live by the rocky coast
fearing the world of man.

And so with me.
I know my needs
and know the world.

I wish for nothing
and do not work
to acquire things.
Quiet is my only wish,
to be free from worry
happiness enough.”

some of my favorite stanzas in the Hojoki



The Modern Fable by Junzaburo Nishiwaki



I’d like to talk about copses
but while I sat on a log with mushrooms growing on it and was thinking
it was already time to put apples and chestnuts
in the basket with the wheat ears, roses, and violets.
The people with hedges around them have begun in their gardens
to polish gourds for divine liquor.


The bonze’s season has come.
A bonze of what country was it
who discovered the fragrance of narcissus?
What’s beautiful is not so much a naked goddess
as the way a naked tree twists,
the season of crystals and roots that form in black earth.
A man sticks his hand out of a yellow bamboo grove
and takes gems, the seeds of vines.
An oak like a broken harp
hangs a tress of green hair.
There’s neither bee nor woman to play lonely spring.
The human being still remains among the brambles
squatting, thinking.


When I listen to the earth
that opens at daybreak
the heart returns that pursues
lost nostalgic dreams.
Ah again lured by man’s
abysmal wandering
footsteps I
roam in the shadow of an old tower
cast on the wall of my hometown
and drink fresh dew in a cherry wine cup.
Mountain glitter–
cloud asura’s
dawn prayers.

some of my favorite shorter poems from Hiroaki Sato’s translation  of Nishiwaki Junzaburo’s The Modern Fable


River of Stars: Selected Poems of Yosano Akiko


Hair in morning tangles,
perhaps I should comb it out
with spring rainwater
as it drips from the ink-black
feathers of swallows’ wings.

Testing, tempting me
forever, those youthful lips
barely touching the
frosty cold drops of dew
on a white lotus blossom.

I say his poem,
propped against this frozen wall,
in the late evening
as bitter autumn rain
continues to fall.

A long, restless night,
now my tangled hair
sweeps the strings of my koto.
Three months into spring
and I’ve not played one note.

some of my favorites from Sam Hamill and Keiko Matsui Gibson’s translations of Akiko Yosano’s poetry

Cat Town by Sakutaro Hagiwara


A Frog’s Death

A frog was killed,
the children made a circle and raised their hands,
all together,
raised their lovely,
bloody hands,
the moon appeared,
on the hill stands a man.
Under his hat there’s a face.


Seeds on a Palm

I make a mound of earth on my hand, sow seeds over the earth,
now as I pour water over the earth with a white watering pot,
the water pours purling,
the cold of earth smarts on the hollow of my hand.

Ah, I push open the May window in the distance,
put out my hand in sunlight,
and being in a halcyon landscape,
the skin grows balmy and warm,
the seeds on my hand begin endearingly to breathe.



From the bottom of the earth I stare at,
a ridiculous hand sticks out,
a leg sticks out,
a neck protrudes,
this damned thing, what on earth,
what kind of goose is this?

From the bottom of the earth I stare at,
looking foolish,
a hand sticks out,
a leg sticks out,
a neck protrudes.

 some poems I loved by Sakutaro Hagiwara, translated by Hiroaki Sato

One Thousand and One-Second Stories by Inagaki Taruho



One evening     Mr. Moon was walking with himself in

his pocket     On a hilly road his shoelace came undone

He was bending down to tie it when      Mr. Moon

rolled out of his pocket and down the slope     On the

rain-slick asphalt he rolled over and over and over and

over     rolling to the end of the earth      Mr. Moon ran

after Mr. Moon but     since he was moving ever so

quickly     the interval between Mr. Moon and Mr. Moon

gradually grew far apart      This is how Mr. Moon lost

sight of himself in the blue mists far below



One evening a whitish substance was falling onto the

veranda     When I put it in my mouth     it had a cool

milky flavor     I was wondering what it could be when

all of a sudden I was shoved down onto the pave-

ment     Just then     a starlike object flew out of my

mouth     dragged its tail over the rooftops and disap-

peared without a trace

When I got up from the pavement     a yellow win-

dow was laughing with scorn in the moonlight

two of my favorite prose poems from Inagaki Taruho