Lady Izumi Shikibu

Will I cease to be,
Or will I remember
Beyond the world,
Our last meeting together?

Arazaramu
Kono yo no hoka no
Omoide ni
Ima hito tabi no
Au knoto mogana


- translated by Kenneth Rexroth
from One Hundred Poems from the Japanese

Soon I cease to be;--
One fond memory I would keep
When beyond this world.
Is there, then, no way for me
Just once more to meet with thee?

- translation by Clay MacCauley, 1917


Soon my life will close.
When I am beyond this world
And have forgotten it,
Let me remember only this:
One final meeting with you.

- revised from MacCauley by the Japanese Text Initiative of
the University of Virginia and the University of Pittsburgh


In the thought that soon
Outside this world I shall be
Where there is nothing,
If only I could see you
And speak with you once again!

- translation by Tom Galt, 1982


And a response by Richard Bear, 1999,

I had almost died
under a distant
sun. I thought

I should write her again,
and perhaps this time
she would say yes.

At length in the mail
came a postcard
showing only a coral

reef, with on the other
side strange words
from Shakespeare.


Note: The original is poem #56 in Hyakunin Isshu.

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