Buon lunedì, prodi seguaci!🚪

Non posso dire di aver passato delle ore in allegria leggendo Japanese Death Poems a cura di Yoel Hoffmann, ma lo sto trovando un libro molto più interessante di quanto mi aspettassi, soprattutto per il modo in cui è curata l’edizione. Vi lascio come esempio il jisei di Akutagawa: ovviamente è tutta una citazione, ma per qualche motivo WordPress e il suo fantasmagorico nuovo editor non mi permettono di unirla…😒



Died on the twenty-fourth day of July, 1927

at the age of thirty-six

One spot, alone, Mizubana ya 
left glowing in the dark: hana no saki dake 
my snotty nose. kure nokoru 

Gaki, better known by his real name, Akutagawa Ryunosuke, prefaced his poem with the words “laughing at myself.” He gave the poem to his aunt on the night of July twenty-third and asked her to deliver it the next morning to the family doctor, who was himself a haiku poet. The same night Akutagawa killed himself by drinking poison. Akutagawa was one of Japan’s greatest modern authors. A short time after  his birth his mother became insane, which cast a heavy shadow on his life. One of his first stories, entitled Hana (Nose), won much praise from the writer Natsume Soseki (1867–1916) and put Akutagawa well into the literary scene of his age. 

Although the consciousness of death is, in most cultures, very much a part of life, this is perhaps nowhere more true than in Japan, where the approach of death has given rise to a centuries-old tradition of writing jisei, or the “death poem.” Such a poem is often written in the very last moments of the poet’s life.
Hundreds of Japanese death poems, many with a commentary describing the circumstances of the poet’s death, have been translated into English here, the vast majority of them for the first time. Yoel Hoffmann explores the attitudes and customs surrounding death in historical and present-day Japan and gives examples of how these have been reflected in the nation’s literature in general. The development of writing jisei is then examined—from the longing poems of the early nobility and the more “masculine” verses of the samurai to the satirical death poems of later centuries.
Zen Buddhist ideas about death are also described as a preface to the collection of Chinese death poems by Zen monks that are also included. Finally, the last section contains three hundred twenty haiku, some of which have never been assembled before, in English translation and romanized in Japanese.