This door you might not open, and you did;
So enter now, and see for what slight thing
You are betrayed… . Here is no treasure hid,
No cauldron, no clear crystal mirroring
The sought-for truth, no heads of women slain
For greed like yours, no writhings of distress,
But only what you see… . Look yet again—
An empty room, cobwebbed and comfortless.
Yet this alone out of my life I kept
Unto myself, lest any know me quite;
And you did so profane me when you crept
Unto the threshold of this room to-night
That I must never more behold your face.
This now is yours. I seek another place.
- Edna St. Vincent Millay
O my love, you should have come, this rainy afternoon!
All morning I rocked alone in my orchid boat;
My sails are all crumpled and damp with spray.
All day I put nothing in my mouth
But sweet ginger tea and the stem
of my pipe. O my love, you should have come!
My hair exhales its perfume.
O my love, you should have come!
I peeled grapes and lychees and dropped them
into glasses of sweet wine, waiting for you.
My chamber is empty, but in its cage my beautiful bird sings.
O my love, you should have come—
My bed is draggled—I am eaten up with hunger—
My hair is unwashed. My bird screeches.
O my love—you should have come.
so basically this is a hot mess that i can’t decide if i want to fix or not. but i like it as it is, for now. and i hope you do, too!
Tonight as I sleep alone
I am on my bed of tears
like an abandoned boat
on the deep sea.
- anonymous geisha, trans. by Kenneth Rexroth
Warm windy night—
The moon floats in velvet darkness
Above the glare of the streetlights.
A beautiful quilt
Soaking on a laundry line
In the sudden rain.
And you as well must die, belovèd dust,
And all your beauty stand you in no stead;
This flawless, vital hand, this perfect head,
This body of flame and steel, before the gust
Of Death, or under his autumnal frost,
Shall be as any leaf, be no less dead
Than the first leaf that fell, this wonder fled,
Altered, estranged, disintegrated, lost.
Nor shall my love avail you in your hour.
In spite of all my love, you will arise
Upon that day and wander down the air
Obscurely as the unattended flower,
It mattering not how beautiful you were,
Or how belovèd above all else that dies.
- Edna St. Vincent Millay
A blind child
Guided by his mother,
Admires the cherry blossoms.
Kikaku, trans. by Kenneth Rexroth
Out of the darkness
on a dark path,
I now set out.
Shine on me,
moon of the mountain edge.
- Izumi Shikibu trans. by Kenneth Rexroth
The loves of a little while ago
and the smoke of tobacco
little by little leave
- anonymous geisha, translated by Kenneth Rexroth
A wave of coldness
Passes between us,
And the distance of a foot
Becomes a thousand miles.
- Akiko Yosano, trans. by Glenn Hughes and Yozan T. Iwasaki