Category Archives: Poetry

Rengetsu Poems from the Rengetsu Circle

Preface and Acknowledgements

Professor John Stevens Sensei, Rengetsu authority, has published two books on Rengetsu’s life and poetry (2005, 2014) and has done much to bring her work to the Western public. We wish to express appreciation to Stevens Sensei for his wonderful translations of Rengetsu’s poems and to the Robyn Buntin Gallery for permission to publish them here. The information for this posting came from http://rengetsu.robynbuntin.com/category/artwork/. You may enjoy visiting the Rengetsu Circle, http://rengetsu.robynbuntin.com/. Rengetsu’s distinctive calligraphy is superbly rendered on the scroll shown here.

~ ~ ~

世の中の  ちりものごりも  ながれてハ     きよきにかえる  かものかわなみ

yo no naka no    chiri mo nagori mo    nagarete wa     kiyoki ni kaeru    kamo no kawanami

This floating world’s   dirt and grime   flows away,

And all is purified   by the waves of Kamo River.

~ ~ ~

yado kasanu   hito no tsurasa o   nasake nite     oborotsuki yo no   hana no shitabushi

“No place at the inn“ but   I find consolation   sleeping beneath

The hazy moon   and the cherry blossoms.

~  ~  ~

この君は  めでたきふしを  かさねつつ   末の世ながき  ためしなりけり 

kono kimi wa   medetaki fushi o   kasane tsutsu     sue no yo nagaki   tameshi nari keri

Noble bamboo   puts forth node after node   year after year

Flourishing quietly,   an example to us.

~  ~  ~

kogahara ochite kokemusu kusamura ni     kokoro nagaku mo sumeru tsuki kana

Across the ancient fields   bunches of moss   mingle with thick grass;

My heart, too, is brightened   by the pure moonlight.

~  ~  ~

ukarekite    hana no no tsuyu ni    nemuru nari      ko wa daga yume no    kochoo naruran

Sporting and sleeping   among  the dew in    a field of flowers –

In whose dream    is this butterfly?

~  ~  ~

海己雪

たちかえり なにはすが々さ きてもミん     雪おもしろき あはちしま山

umi no yuki

tachikaeri   naniwa sugagasa   kite momin     yuki omoshiroki   awajishima yama

Seashore Snow

Returning home   in my Naniwa straw hat   I gaze upon the

Snow white face of   Awajishima mountain.

~  ~  ~

元旦のあしたけさう文うるミて

人ミなの 春のこ々ろや さそうふらん     かざしのうめも 匂ふ明けぼの

gantan no ashita kesofumi urumite

hito minano  haru no kokoro ya   sasouran     kazashi no ume mo   niou akebono

Upon seeing a good luck charm vendor on  New Year’s Day morning

Surely all are   enticed by the   heart of spring—

As we smell plum blossoms on display,   and watch a brilliant sunrise.

~  ~  ~

くみあげて 世にこそめずれ 山ふきの     花のかふかき うじのつむ水

kumiagete   yo ni koso mezure   yamafuki no     hana no kou kaki   uji no tsumu mizu

Scooped up and put inside this pot:  something so admired   for its fragrance of

Mountain roses – the water from Uji (River).

~  ~  ~

ゆく末の さちのとよはひを  二葉にて ちとせをまつぞ  めてたくりけり

yuku sue no   sachi no to yowai o   futaba ni te   chitose o matsu zo  medetakuri keri

One’s coming years   of maturity   should be celebrated

As being like the fresh needles   of an auspicious, evergreen pine.

~  ~  ~

~  ~  ~

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Rengetsu  蓮月 Poems in Japanese and English

The poetess Rengetsu, 1791-1875, is the subject of two books by John Stevens (2005, 2014). These poems were found on  www.RobynBuntin.com, translation by John Stevens, ed. by Okunomichi. Page numbers of the poems indicate the pages of the books on which they are found.

   At Fushimi Inari Shrine

いなり山      すぎの下枝ハ     むかしにて     けふはつうまの     いへづとぞ これ

inari yama     sugi no shitae wa     mukashi ni te    kyou hatsu uma no     iezuto zo kore

On Mount Inari     today, as in times past,     worshippers at the Festival of the Horse     carry sacred branches of cedar     home as a good luck charm.

   Koto in the wind

つまごとの  りちのしらべに  かよいきて  こえ おもしろき  のきのまつかぜ

tsumagoto no     richi no shirabe ni  kayoikite     koe omoshiroki  noki no matsukaze

Along the eaves of my hut     the voice of a koto     searching for the right tune     mingles with the sound     of the wind blowing in the pines.

    Willow of the ancient village     2014 p 51

ひとむらの  けぶりとみしは ふるさとの むかしのやどの やなぎなりけり

hitomura no     keburi to mishi wa     furusato no     mukashi no yado no    yanagi nari keri

  It seems to be a cloud of smoke     but as I come closer     to the old house     of my ancient village     I see it is a billowing willow.

   The horserace at Kamo Shrine     2014 p 67

おくれそね かけよかけよと かみやまの ほととぎすさえ なくわたるなり

okure so ne     kakeyo kakeyo to  kamiyama no  hototogisu sae naku wataru nari

Do not fall behind,     run, run faster!     [we yell for our favorite horse:]     even the hototogisu on Kamiyama     seem to join in the cheer.

   Sparkle of the woodsman’s sickle in the moonlight

やまがつが     あすのいそぎに   とく鎌の     ひかりに々たる   夕月夜か那

yamagatsu ga     asu no isogi ni   toku kama no     hikari ni nitaru    yuugetsu yo kana

At night, the woodsman’s sickle     sparkles as bright as     the moonlight

as it is being sharpened     for tomorrow’s work.

   Akishino First Night mist

はつとぎり たちそめて そとやまなびく うすぎりや まだいりたたぬ あきしのさと

hatsu togiri     tachisomete     sotoyama nabiku     usugiri ya     mada iritatanu     akishinosato

First Night Mist     just starting to     form along the mountain     the thin mist

has yet to enter     Akishino Village.

   Enthralled by the autumn moon     2014 p 89, 2005 p 57

のに山二     うかれうかれて    かえるさを    ねやまでおくる    秋のよの月

No ni yama ni    ukare ukarete    kaeru sa o    neya made okuru    aki no yo no tsuki

In the fields, in the mountains     I was enthralled, so enthralled;     on the way back home     the autumn moon accompanied me     all the way to my bedroom.

   Moonbeams as my hat

つきのさす かさのあられや おちつらん そでもきょらに かかるしらゆき

tsuki no sasu   kasa no arare ya   ochitsuran    sode mo kyora ni   kakaru shira yuki

Wearing only moonbeams     as my hat     sleet begins to beat down,     my sleeves too gradually become covered     with pure white snow.

   Plovers on the Kamogawa path     2005 p 76

ちどりなく かもがわつつみ 月ふけて そでにおぼゆる よわの初しも

chidori naku     kamogawa tsutsumi tsuki fukete     sode ni oboyuru

yowa no hatsushimo

As the moon ascends     plovers cry along     the Kamogawa-tsutsumi path —

night deepens, first frost     settles on my sleeves.

   The bow-shaped moon

もののふの やしまのうらの ゆうしおに ながれもあえぬ ゆみはりの月

mononofu no     yashima no ura no yuushioni     nagare mo aenu    yumihari no tsuki

The bow-shaped [half] moon     reminds me of the brave warrior     in the battle of Yashima Bay     who would not let     his bow float away in the tide.

   Waiting for hototogisu     2014 p 65

ほととぎす いまひとこえと まちしまに しらみはてたる ゆうやけの月

hototogisu     ima hito koe to machishi ma ni     shirami hate taru    yuu yake no tsuki

Waiting for the     first call of a     hototogisu     in the white light     of the morning moon.

   野々み At Nonomiya Shrine     2014 p 58

野々みやの 春の手向の しらうふは    さかきにまじる さくら也けり

Nonomiya no     haru no tamuke no    shirayuu wa     sakaki ni majiru    sakura nari keri

At Nonomiya Shrine     maidens make the spring offering     of pure white cloth;

sacred sakaki trees     mingle with cherry blossoms.

   Koto in the wind

つまごとの りちのしらべに 通ひきて    こえおもしろき 軒の松風 蓮月

tsumagoto no   richi no shirabe ni    tsuuikite    koe omoshiroki    noki no matsukaze

Through the window of my hut:     the sound of a koto     searching for the right melody     mingling with the sound     of the wind blowing in the pines.

   Ode to a new age

ひなつるの ゆく末とほき 声きけば    ミよをちとせと うたふ也けり

Hear the timeless     cry of a young crane—     it is an ode to     the dawning of a new age     to last a 1,000 generations.

   Flourishing bamboo     2005 p 48

このきミ乃 めでたきふしを 重ねつ々 未のよ長き ためし也けり

This gentleman (bamboo)     piles up knot after knot,     year after year,     flourishing quietly,     an example to us.

   Hermitage in the pines     2014 p 154

のちりを よそにはらいて 行く末の    千代をしめたる 宿の松風

The world’s dust     swept aside     no concern about the future; in my hermitage I have all I need:     the sound of the wind in the pines.

   Twin needles of the pine

ゆく末の さちとよはいを 二葉にて    ちとせを松や ひさしかるらん

Let us consider     our aging and     future happiness     as twin needles     from an auspicious pine.

   The fledgling pines of Sumi-no-e

としごと二 若がへりつ々 いくちよか    世二すみのえの きしのひめ松

The tiny pines     along the shore     of Sumi-no-e     have been appearing     for how many generations?