Ezra Pound

from Kakitsubata (1916)


Strangers from afar and afar,
Will they not wonder at this?
He went on afar and afar
And came to Mikawa, the province,
To the flowers Kakitsubata
That flare and flaunt in their marsh
By the many-bridged cobweb of waters.
‘She whom I left in the city?’ thought Narihira. But in the long tale, Monogatari, there is many a page full of travels . . . and yet at the place of eight bridges the stream-bed is never dry.
He was pledged with many a lady.
The fire-flies drift away
From the jewelled blind,
Scattering their little lights
And then flying and flying:

Souls of fine ladies
Going up into heaven.

And here in the under-world
The autumn winds come blowing and blowing,
And the wild ducks cry: ‘Kari! . . . Kari!’
I who speak, an unsteady wraith,
A form impermanent, drifting after this fashion,
Am come to enlighten these people.
Whether they know me I know not.


A light that does not lead on to darkness.

(singing the poem of Narihira’s)

No moon!
The spring
Is not the spring of old days,
My body
Is not my body,
But only a body grown old.

Narihira, Narihira,
My glory comes not again.




Pound’s Kaikitsubata (BK23) appeared first as Kaikitsuhata in Drama 6 (August 1916), pp. 428-35.

For an overview of Pound’s Japanese interests see Ezra Pound and the Invention of Japan in the Bibliography, and for a note about Pound titles in print see In a Station of the Metro.


















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