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The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan
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The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan

4.45 of 5 stars 4.45  ·  rating details  ·  518 ratings  ·  62 reviews
Translations of selected Japanese poems by women of the ancient court of Japan are accompanied by explanatory notes..Title: .The Ink Dark Moon..Author: .Hirshfield, Jane (EDT)/ Arantani, Mariko/ Hirshfield, Jane..Publisher: .Random House Inc..Publication Date: .1990/10/01..Number of Pages: .212..Binding Type: .PAPERBACK..Library of Congress: .90050154
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 3rd 1990 by Vintage (first published March 1st 1988)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,273)
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Beautiful amuse-bouche poems, these are lovely little bites of awesomeness, and I enjoyed reading about both the Heian court, of which I'd never heard, as well as the intricacies and issues of translating ancient Japanese poems. And what the hell, I'll thrown in a couple of my many favorites:

In this world
love has no color--
yet how deeply
my body
is stained by yours.


When the water-freezing
winter arrives,
the floating reeds look rooted,
as if stillness
were their own desire.
Akemi G
Why would an English-speaking person want to read Japanese poems translated into English? Is it enjoyable?
I was curious about this and found this book at my local library. It is an anthology of Japanese style poems (waka/tanka) by two Heian period (794 - 1185 or 1192) female poets, Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu. I know the original poems are 5 stars; I'm taking 1 star off because I think the presentation can be improved.

Waka follows a syllabic pattern of 5-7-5, 7-7. (Please see the example b
Sean the Bookonaut
If Haiku are observational and sparse, understated in their emotion, detached from the poet’s ego – then I find that Tanka are almost their opposite.

With Tanka the poet expresses their emotion, asks questions directly of the reader(or themselves) and layers emotional imagery that can seem to explode off the page (particularly if you have only been reading Haiku). Indeed at times while The Ink Dark Moon, I found these poems from 8th-10th Century Japan more akin to the overtly emotional work of t
Katrina Anderson
Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani’s translations of Heian Court love poetry by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu may not be the most accurate translation; but what they lack in accuracy, they make up in their conveyance of passion that is familiar to Western audiences. The preface gives a great introduction to Heian Court practices concerning love, women, and poetry. It is necessary to read if you want to have a deeper understanding of the poems and the poets’ life. The poems themselves are very ...more

The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi & Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan translated by Jane Hirsh field with Mariko Aratani. These poems were written by two ladies of the Heian Court between the 9th and 11th Centuries in Japan. These women were central figures in the only literary Golden Age where women writers dominated the field. Shikibu (974?-1034?) wrote during the court culture's greatest period. She was a woman interested in both religious consciousness and
While I was in Boston the last few days, I visited the BMFA exhibit or Hokusai and amongst the mouse pads, mugs (of which I bought two - that I now realize are Sake glasses - hence the missing handles), there were a number of books. This was one. I decided to download it to my kindle while I waited a couple hours at the airport and I proceeded to devour it over the course of my 4 hour flight home. It's like Sappho had some sisters in 8th century Japan...about 1400 years after her own time.
Connie Cann
When my desire
grows too fierce
I wear my bed clothes
inside out,
dark as the night's rough husk.

-Ono no Komachi

The Ink Dark Moon will become one of those poetry collections that I am constantly reading. I expected the poetry of these two women of the Heian court, Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, to offer a glimpse into imperial Japan; instead, they only underline the pervasive poignancy of the human experience.

In this world
love has no color-
yet how deeply
my body
is stained by yours.

-Izumi Shikibu
I seldom give a book, even a very good one, 5 stars. I reserve that rating for truly exceptional books. In this case, The Ink Dark Moon is sheer perfection. Stunning perfection. The vast majority of the poems contained therein are five lines long, with only a handful of words per line. And let me tell you, it is truly amazing how twenty or so words can be so gorgeously beautiful. Even more amazing still, is the fact that the poems are translated from the Japanese, and yet still retain their beau ...more
Daniel Simmons
Melancholy and gorgeous. The perfect accompaniment for a moonlit night under a cherry tree in full bloom.
Azwa Ahmad
Vivid, with a sense of rarity that sometimes befuddle the mind, chiefly poems that are Buddhist by its nature. It is deeply moving and evocative. The emotions framed in the poems remain alive even after eons since they first conceived, which serve as a form of shared connection between the present and the past— a proof that regardless of the changes bring about by time, our feelings remain identical, thus blurring the line dividing the present and the past, converging us as one.

I also do believ
I have been reading this one page at a time, off and on, for almost 18 months. For me, haiku is like peppermints - one at a time, please.
Love these poems!

Lyrical, beautiful, sensuous. Very speaking to the female heart and soul.
This isn't really the kind of book that you sit down and read cover to cover. I once saw someone describe trying to read straight through a collection of haiku as being like "being repeatedly pecked by doves," and that's kind of an apt description. You're much better off dipping in and reading just a few poems at a time.

The poems in this book run the gamut emotionally: some are passionate, some are sad, some are funny. Considering how old the poems are and how different the lives of the women w
Gracy DSouza
Brevity in writing at its best! The Ink Dark Moon is a beautiful collection of short poetry (Tanka) written by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, women of the Heian court of imperial Japan. The poems are translated by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani who have done a marvellous job at retaining the poems’ essence and depth in meaning. Wonderful imagery in the lines! Although brief in nature, the poems depict emotive and sensuous sentiments. This book is a must buy for poetry lovers.
Happy reading
The book is also translated by Mariko Aratani.

In the introduction, Hirshfield writes

The women serving in the imperial retinue were highly cultured and educated, treated as aesthetic equals by the men. They had official duties, such as making an expedition to view the spring flowers and then engaging in a poetry competition on the subject, but for the most part they were left to their own devices. Thus, the court women waited in leisure for the next piece of gossip, or the next messenger carryin
May 11, 2015 Cait rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry

I'm so easy with poetry books; I would say it's hard to go wrong, but that's obviously not true, so maybe I'm just easy to poetically please. These women were super dramatic, super obsessed with the moon, and quite suicidal. I'm not gonna be like oh #relatable, but like, I can appreciate it, you know? Especially the first two things.

(Sidenote, though--why doesn't this title have a hyphen in it. Tbh.)
Exquisite and timeless and masterful. Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu were two of the best poets in the Heian court of imperial Japan one thousand years ago. Ranging from the deeply spiritual to the sensuous, the tanka represented here by these passionate and accomplished women are insightful, intimate, and lovely. I have reread these poems over the years, and I am moved each and every time.
Archita Bagchi
Haiku is one of the best forms of poetry that one can compose and read. It is short and at the same time, expressive and lyrically complete. It is mesmerising how five lines of poetry can be so profound.
This is a beautifully translated book. The works of the two passionate women are poignantly sensuous and boldly erotic but with so much class and subtlety that you want to constantly read one after another.. As if to wish that this beautiful poetry would never come to an end.
I received it as a g
1. The Introduction - tells about the two writers of the poems and a little about Japanese poetry. Informative and well written, this is an asset to this book.

2-3. The translated poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikubu. I loved all of these. There is so much feeling packed into those little lines and simple phrases. This is what poetry reading should all be like. Loved it!

4-6 Appendix
4. Discusses the process of translation.

5. Notes to the poems - discusses the meanings of hidden words or pivo
Jessica Bang
I really wish there were more poems in this collection! The Introduction and "Notes to the Poems" helped me appreciate the poems a lot more than just reading the poems without any reference. I can only imagine how awesome these tanka verses are in the original language.
Nobody does bereavement, broken romance, absence or loneliness like the Japanese. Also, the work of Jane Hirshfield continues to amaze.
The depth of emotion, the illustrious women who wrote these poems… There's nothing and no one like them, really. It's something to experience for yourself.

Also it should be said that I don't understand the nuances of translating poems from Japanese or their cultural cues, so I'm not rating so much on accuracy, but the beauty of what I've read. There's information in my book about the trials and tribulations of translation, so I can only assume they tried their best and that this is a result of a
Catherine Corman
A deep valley, now,
what was once my heart.

-Izumi Shikibu, in Ink Dark Moon
Love, in the saddest and the rawest.
I took my time with these poetic gems. They are truly universal in theme and speak deeply to my heart. I can't wait until our household gets over its money drought so that I can buy my own copy. I will hate to return them to the library.
An excellent translation that captures the beauty of the originals. Provides a romanized version of the originals. I wish the original Japanese characters had also been included, but I understand this was probably a limitation placed by the publisher. I have read many of these poems in the original Japanese and am delighted that these translations are so accurate yet poetic.

There are so many BAD translations of Japanese poetry out there. This one is great.
Melanie Faith
A coworker and fellow writer loaned me this amazing book of tanka poetry. The after-notes on how the translations came about are equally fascinating. A brilliant read for anyone interested either in ancient poetry, writing tanka, or Japanese history. It fulfills on all of these fronts.
I thought to pick
the flower of forgetting
for myself,
but found it
already growing in his heart.

This is one of my favorite poems from this collection. I read this book in college and loved it so much that I still have the book. Beautiful, simple poems about love, passion and loss.

Absolutely rilliant translations! I haven't read poetry so suffuse with passion and longing since Romeo and Juliet. And the preface and afterword provide brilliant insights into 9th/10th C. Japanese poetry and suprisingly liberal sexual mores. I'd give it 6 stars if I could.
Richard Evert
A true gem. The translations are very beautiful and powerful. There is an execellent essay on the challenges of translating Japanese poetry of the Heian era. The notes on individual poems are illuminating.

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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect author and translator information 5 18 Nov 13, 2013 01:11PM  
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“Even if I now saw you only once, I would long for you through worlds, worlds, worlds.” 35 likes
“However wildly
this year's cherry blossoms bloom,
I'll see them
with the plum's scent
filling my heart.”
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