Only Companion: Japanese Poems of Love and Longing

A compilation of Japanese tanka-—a traditional five line verse form translated by Sam Hamill and published by Shambhala Press. One of my favorite collections of poetry.

In the preface, Hamill notes …

”I began translating the poems, often with the aid and inspiration of friends. There began to emerge two basic interlocking themes: the poem of romantic love and the poem of spiritual longing. Poems of changing seasons and passing years underscore a profound sense of temporality, while erotic poems and Zen poems, each in their own way, seek a state of transcendent grace.”

An excerpt:

Once my bitterness
has found its way into words,
it dissipates,
running deep into my heart,
anger replaced by sadness.

Koto no ha ni
idete urami wa
kokoro ni komuru
usa ni narunuru

(p. 94)

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