Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Love in the Old Millennium

Crow and Heron, or Young Lovers Walking Together under an Umbrella in a Snowstorm, ca. 1769.  Suzuki Harunobu (Japanese, 1725–1770; Polychrome woodcut print on paper). Image Source: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Time and romance: a topic of reverie, memory and contemplation. In another post, I mentioned a quote from the film, Crimes and Misdemeanors:
"You will notice that what we are aiming at when we fall in love is a very strange paradox. The paradox consists of the fact that, when we fall in love, we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom we were attached as children. On the other hand, we ask our beloved to correct all of the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted upon us. So that love contains in it the contradiction: The attempt to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past."
For love's paradox with the past, here are some words from one of the greatest modern Japanese poets, Kitahara Hakushū (pen-name of Kitahara Ryūkichi, born 5 January, 1885; died 2 November, 1942).  There is a review of a recent book about him, here (Hat tip: Michael Steger).  The review has a translation of one of Kitahara's tanka poems, which are masterworks of simplicity:

Tsume no urumi ni
Ochishi miruku mo
Natsukashi to minu
The drop of milk
Which had fallen
On the light red polish
Of her nails
Made me yearn for the past

Japanese poet, Kitahara Hakushū. Image Source: Wiki.

And a longer, haunted poem, courtesy of Michael Steger's Tumblr:

The Water Surface
At evening the falling flowers of the willow
Make a twilight, and through it
The water surface appears,
Reflecting the eyes of the daughter of the house.

While I felt myself caressed in your heart,
Your face singularly pale,
Suddenly one of the ripples changed its color
And showed the eyes of an imaginary ogre.

When I, frightened, stared at it,
It turned silvery like a tiny minnow,
Changed into a harmonica, into an oar,
And back into the eyes of the girl.

The willow flowers are falling on
A dragon-fly-hunter by the gutter of the eaves,
And my mind, tired, alone,
Is softly caressed at the surface of the water.

(Translated from the Japanese; translator unknown; first published in Poetry in 1956)

See all my posts on Love in the New Millennium.


  1. Hello!

    I've justed wanted to know whether there is any book published including only translations of poems by Hakushu in English.. Thank you.

  2. If you go on this website,

    there are translations to English by James O'Brien, "Professor Emeritus of Japanese at the University of Wisconsin. He continues to translate modern Japanese poems and to publish these as the occasion presents itself. Poems by Kitahara Hakushu (1885-1942) and Hagiwara Sakutaro (1886-1942) appeared in the Fall 2002 issue of Metamorphoses."

    Also, there is this book: