japonisme: what they never told me....

14 January 2011

what they never told me....


To grow old is to lose everything.
Aging, everybody knows it.
Even when we are young,
we glimpse it sometimes, and nod our heads
when a grandfather dies.
Then we row for years on the midsummer
pond, ignorant and content. But a marriage,
that began without harm, scatters
into debris on the shore,
and a friend from school drops
cold on a rocky strand.

If a new love carries us
past middle age, our wife will die
at her strongest and most beautiful.
New women come and go. All go.
The pretty lover who announces
that she is temporary
is temporary. The bold woman,
middle-aged against our old age,
sinks under an anxiety she cannot withstand.
Another friend of decades estranges himself
in words that pollute thirty years.

Let us stifle under mud at the pond's edge
and affirm that it is fitting
and delicious to lose everything.

Donald Hall

Copyright © 2002 by Donald Hall.
All rights reserved

• they never told me i would take up sewing, knitting, but i have.

• growing a beard??! i know for certain i have never heard of this! shave! regularly!

• forget what number on the crossword puzzle i'm working on

• fall

sentaku no baba e yanagi no yû nabiki

to the old woman
doing laundry, the evening
willow bows



nippon ni toshi wo toru no ga raku da kana

growing a year older
in Japan
is a comfort

One of Issa's patriotic haiku. The season word in this haiku, toshitori, ("growing old") relates to the year's ending; in the traditional Japanese system for counting age, everyone gains a year on New Year's Day. Shinji Ogawa believes that Issa may be punning with the words raku da ("comfortable") and rakuda ("camel"). Viewed in this light, the haiku's tone is "childishly comical."*

• to me though, i'll admit, i prefer hall's interpretation: that as we lose what we've believed is important, we come to know ourselves.

• age finally gifts us with
what therapy did not.

• and we surely do love our animal friends.

*translation and interpretation of issa's work by david g lanoue

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Blogger izzieiambic said...

Good old Issa; he had a hard life and he still finds time
to sing to me. I think I know what DH means. I'm 62, love or its finding
seems far away now. But you never know, we old boys are eternal optimists. ta for a lovely post.
(Iorla on Flickr)

15 January, 2011 04:42  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thank you euan. i'm now off to see your photos....

15 January, 2011 07:26  
Anonymous evan said...

ha...this hits home.

The shock of the face in the mirror. I get a magazine from my old prep school- my god my class-mates look old. THEY look old. (I lie to myself & tell myself)I'm maintaining. My knee replacement & arthritic shoulder, grey beard & bald head- we're fine. We don't look THAT old.

I see pretty girls walk by- what was once beautiful & attractive to me still is, though my definition of beauty is a lot less narrow than it used to be- wisdom or a nod to the idea that beggars can't be choosers? Pretty girls walk by, & I smile (even as a small sadness rises), knowing I'm not even a blip on their radar. And if I were- I'd see it as a red flag. No man in his right mind wants a girl, I mean woman, with daddy issues.

15 January, 2011 10:39  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i understand what you mean about an expanding sense of beauty. not only do the beautiful aspects of youth become more broadly beautiful, but sometimes distance allows for appreciation too, don't you think?, without reserve.

15 January, 2011 13:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mourir,cela n'est rien,
Mourir, la belle affaire,
Mais vieillir...
Jacques Brel,"Vieillir"(the rest on youtube).
The problem is that the soul doesn't get old in the meantime. Contemplation has its advantages too, though.d

16 January, 2011 00:34  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

i don't understand why that's a problem, d.

16 January, 2011 10:03  
Anonymous evan said...

"...the soul doesn't get old in the meantime." A double edged blade- a young & curious soul is a good thing. It keeps us interested in life. The other edge of the blade is eventually the soul wants what the body can't deliver. No running through the forest with my knees. Body surfing all day- I have a shoulder that will hurt for months afterward...

16 January, 2011 12:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Age leaves a bitter taste of frustration. Things cease to speak and become inevitably an abstraction . But no surrender. L is right: one dance a day.d

16 January, 2011 14:53  
Anonymous s said...

some of my favorite thought tangents...getting old, beards, knitting.

love, love this.

17 January, 2011 16:05  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

thank you thank you

17 January, 2011 18:25  
Blogger Yoli said...

This is so achingly beautiful. I find myself tearing up.

22 January, 2011 18:39  
Blogger lotusgreen said...

my god, yoli, you are like a walking hug

22 January, 2011 20:35  

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