Ônishi Yasuyo — Selected Gendai Senry

Richard Gilbert and It Yki (trans.)

February 29, 2008



A haiku, hand-written during

our August 2007 interview

is located here.









hibashira no naka ni watashi no eki ga aru


within a pillar of fire

my station







watakushi no hone to sakura ga mankai ni


my bones and cherry blossoms

reach full bloom





あじさい闇 過去がどんどん痩せてゆく

あじさいやみ かこがどんどんやせてゆく

ajisai yami kako ga dondon yasete yuku


hydrangea darkness

the past gradually withers






waga shigo no shokubutsu zukan kitto ame


during my postmortem

an illustrated botany

rain comes, no doubt







fukurokji de korobu to umi ga miete kuru


from a blind alley

tumbling to a scene

of the sea







ushirokara mizu no oto shite fu ga kitari


from behind

comes the sound of water

comes news of death






doko made ga kugatsu no kaze to naru inochi


where a life starts and becomes

september wind







sogekihei no futokoro fukaku sarusuberi


in the deep bosom

of a sniper

myrtle blossom



百日紅 sarusuberi (crape myrtle blossom) blooms in summer. The kanji are, literally: “100 days of crimson.” The pronunciation “sarusuberi” contains a reference to the tree: saru is 'monkey,' and “to slip” is suberu. The trunk of this tree is so slippery that even a monkey cannot climb it.







gkyno otoko o hiite shigan made


tugging a wailing man

just to the riverbank edge

of this world



此岸 shigan (riverbank) has the additional Buddhist connotation of 'crossing over' whether it be of death, or enlightenment.







kimi kowan shikibu-nagon no su-e to shite


I'll love you as a descendant of Shikibu & Shonagon



1) kowamu is an ancient, traditional verb for “love, solicitation, to pray for, desire‑in-solitude, etc.” (the verb has a complex nuance); in modern Japanese the pronunciation is “kowan.”


2) shikibu-nagon is a concatenation of three famed women‑poets of the Heian Court: Murasaki Shikibu (9731014CE (poss. 1025), author of the Tales of Genji [Genji monogatari]); Izumi Shikibu (a.k.a. Lady Izumi, circa 976CE?), whose notable works are contained in the Imperial Authorized Anthologies of Poems, Shish, Go-Shish, and her poetic diary, The Diary of Lady Izumi (Izumi Shikibu nikki); last but not least, Sei Shonagon (Lady Seish, 9651010 CE?), author of The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon.


3) ('su-e' [pron. “sue-ay”] typ. pron. "ei”) is an ancient kanji, meaning “successor, descendants.”