japonisme: the chronicling poet

02 December 2007

the chronicling poet

thanks to the work of a handful of poets, trans- lators, and publishers, we have become aware of a number of poets and novelists, women in early japan. now, though, the voices of the diarists are coming through as well.

in Bettina Gramlich-Oka's fas- cinating essay, Tokugawa Women and Spacing the Self , we are introduced to the lives and work of three such women, Rai Shizuko (or Baishi) (1760-1842), Tadano Makuzu(1763-1825), and Iseki Takako (1785-1844). in excerp- ting (dramatically) the essay, i will let each woman speak for herself.

shizuku:












Omou koto ........................
Without a thought,
nakute mimashiya ........................... for a while, I only
to bakari ni ....................................... observe,
nochi no koyohi zo .................... but later this evening
tsuki ni nakinuru ................... I will shed tears under
the moon. (1800/9/13)

o no naka ni ................... Whatever in the world
michi yori soto wa .................................. lies outside
nanigoto mo ................................ the Way,
supporapon no........................................ throw
pon ni shite oke ........................................ away!

makuzu:

My father Heisuke had five daughters. He wished to marry one of them to a retainer [of the Date house], but none of my sisters said she would go. While they feigned ignorance of our father’s hope, one by one their life courses were decided. I realized that if I did not act, my father’s wish would go unfulfilled, so I set aside my own desires and moved to this place.

Having made up my mind, I resolved to return to my father the body he had given me and, resigning myself to my life being over at the age of thirty-five, set out on a journey of no return. There was little to it, I thought, since it was better than the road to death. Whatever hardships I encountered after arriving here, I endured, thinking them better than the tortures of hell. But ever since [my brother] Motosuke left this world, my mind has not been at ease. I wrote this book [Hitori kangae] thinking that unless I pursued my father’s goals, he would have developed his ideas in vain.

As for half-baked scholars, their thinking is full of errors; the more they gather together, the more they argue without producing wisdom. This is the general situation among scholars. In what way do they differ from frogs?

Since I am a woman lacking in knowledge, I have stated whatever I wanted to without a second thought. Please correct my writings according to your judgment.

I have written this entire text without any sense of modesty or concern about being unduly outspoken…With this in mind, I feel neither pain nor irritation at being criticized by others.

takako:

What I am now writing, with my inadequate intelligence and clumsy brush, is not intended to be broadcasted to the world. I am writing this in order to let the young people of my family and their children in future generations know a little of how our family lives today and what our world is like. No doubt these scraps of paper will become the haunt of bookworms or be dragged off by mice for their nests, but even if that happens, it will make a wonderful diversion. (1840/2/12)

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5 Comments:

Blogger Princess Haiku said...

Lotus,
I've given you another award.

02 December, 2007 20:34  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i am genuinely grateful, princess. thank you very much.

02 December, 2007 20:42  
Blogger Princess Haiku said...

You are welcome, Lotus. I don't remember how I first wandered into your blog but so glad that I did. And now it's time for to vanish per usual. After midnight you see.

03 December, 2007 00:14  
Anonymous murasaki said...

I am so happy I found your blog. I have a problem seeing the pictures, however: why cannot I see the pictures bigger, in a new window? is it only I having this trouble? I'd like so much to see them bigger, they are so wonderful.

03 December, 2007 15:31  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

murasaki--i'm so happy you found it too. thank you for pointing this out. it's not just you. i can't get the images from the last two days to open either. but the ones before that still open, at least the ones i tried.

i don't know what is going on, so i'll explore and see what i can do.

03 December, 2007 19:45  

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hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

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