A poem: In the sea of Iwami by Kakinomoto Hitomaro

December 16, 2012 by Joshua
in Art, Blog, Nature

I recently came across a poem I remember reading in college and liking enough to copy into my computer. I’ve tried to find a way to connect it to this page’s usual themes of leadership and personal development. I can’t, but I like the poem enough to post it anyway. I hope you like it enough to indulge my digression / indulgence.


It’s by Kakinomoto Hitomaro (c. 662 – 710). According to Wikipedia he “was a Japanese poet and aristocrat of the late Asuka period. He was the most prominent of the poets included in the Man’yōshÅ«, and was particularly represented in volumes 1 and 2. In Japan, he is considered one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals.”

In the sea of Iwami
By the cape of Kara
There amid the stones under sea
Grows the deep-sea Miru weed;
There along the rocky strand
Grows the sleek sea tangle.

Like the swaying sea tangle,
Unresisting would she lie beside me —
My wife whom I love with a love
Deep as the miru-growing ocean.

But few are the nights
We two have lain together.

Away I have come, parting from her
Even as the creeping vines do part.
My heart aches within me;
I turn back to gaze —
But because of the yellow leaves
Of Watari Hill,
Flying and fluttering in the air,
I cannot see plainly
My wife waving her sleeve to me.
Now as the moon, sailing through the cloud-rift
Above the mountain of Yakami,
Disappears, leaving me full of regret,
So vanishes my love out of sight;
Now sinks at last the sun,
Coursing down the western sky.

I thought myself a strong man,
But the sleeves of my garment
Are wetted through with tears.

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2 responses on “A poem: In the sea of Iwami by Kakinomoto Hitomaro

  1. Pingback: Classic Chinese and Japanese Love Poetry | Paul Brians Site | Washington State University

  2. Pingback: I confess I don’t get a lot of poetry » Joshua Spodek

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