Yosano Akiko Sept 16, 2008 22:50:50 GMT 2
Post by moira on Sept 16, 2008 22:50:50 GMT 2
Introduced by Christina Pacosz:
Akiko Yosano Yosano Akiko, Akiko Yosano December 7, 1878 - May 29, 1942 was the pen-name of a
Japanese pioneering feminist, pacificist, and social reformer who died during World War II. Her death went unnoticed at the time and her works fell into obscurity until the revival in the 1970's. Her real name was Yosano Shiyo. She is one of the most famous, and most controversial, post-classical woman poets of Japan, noted for her tankas. Her poem Mountain Moving Day was appropriated by many women around the world during the height of the Women's Movement in the U.S. This poster is an example of what Akiko's poems meant to many, including myself. Here's a link if you are interested in purchasing a copy of this historical poster.
There was a women-run, cooperatively owned restaurant in Portland, Oregon during the mid-1970s called Mountain Moving Cafe. I am fairly sure this wasn't the only establishment or venture to borrow the striking image from Yosano's poem.
I am sick today,
sick in my body,
eyes wide open, silent,
I lie on the bed of childbirth.
Why do I, so used to the nearness of death,
to pain and blood and screaming,
now uncontrollably tremble with dread?
A nice young doctor tried to comfort me,
and talked about the joy of giving birth.
Since I know better than he about this matter,
what good purpose can his prattle serve?
Knowledge is not reality.
Experience belongs to the past.
Let those who lack immediacy be silent.
Let observers be content to observe.
I am all alone,
totally, utterly, entirely on my own,
gnawing my lips, holding my body rigid,
waiting on inexorable fate.
There is only one truth.
I shall give birth to a child,
truth driving outward from my inwardness.
Neither good nor bad; real, no sham about it.
With the first labor pains,
suddenly the sun goes pale.
The indifferent world goes strangely calm.
I am alone.
It is alone I am.
Translated by Kenneth Rexroth
This is a link to her poem to her brother "Brother Do Not Give Your Life" in a 40 line shintaishi published in 1904: