Saturday, October 29, 2011






Oe no Chisato

Gaze I at the moon,
Myriad things arise in thought,
And my thoughts are sad –

Yet, 'tis not for me alone,
That the autumn time has come.


Autumnal thoughts
drift to me;
petals browning,

leaves. New
wrinkles in my hands
are well matched

to those in yours —
Now we have loved,
we cannot die.


Chisato is said to have been a nephew of Yukihira and to have been influenced by Chinese poetry. The Old Nurse, in Hokusai's unfinished print, visualizes heavy-laden peasants moving about the paths among the fields beneath a harvest moon. Age is given more than it can carry, perhaps, but the harvest is nevertheless brought in.

Risa is thinking here of the discovery by lovers that they are no longer young. On the same topic, she also has written: 

g r a c e

They do not always sit with an easy grace,
the aging: in afternoon light, even in October,
cracks invade her clear skin,

showing in relief, and he knows dismay,
seeing her, his own once simple face
crowding itself, as when a life within

doors runs out of thought. Yet, sober
as this renders him, he will not turn away
from her to seek some easier play:

there is no win or lose, no hunt, no race,
no battle. His eyes would disrobe her,
for she is to him more than she has been,

and he would know all, even here,
as passers pass, not seeing what his eyes see;
but he will wait on her clear sign

that this is welcome, even from his gaze,
for she has known most men hold themselves dear;
known too long their avarice that she

should shape to their dreams, their ways,
their endless drawing round her of sharp lines,
their wrapping an arm carelessly round her days,

their failing, in this many years, to touch the key
moment of her heart, that movement lacking fear
when she might freely give, without design.

Placing her hand in his, she shifts and sighs;
a not unhappy sound, considering the hour
and how late, as well, this man has come to her:

five decades they have lived apart,
as though all meaning had to be deferred;
as though autumn alone might show love's power;

as though some god, having hated happy hearts,
had suddenly relented, offering them this prize.