Sei Shonagon

I wrote this when I was reading The Pillow Book, a diary by Sei Shonagon. The Heian period (c. 800-1200 AD) is so weird, if you like history you should definitely look into it. A Heian lady actually wrote what is regarded as the first novel. They lived for poetry, and the only topic worth pursuing (aside from court gossip) was the beauty of nature.


Lady Murasaki writing, not Sei Shonagon at all

A woman

Sits at her writing desk

All grace and brightly layered robes.

Her hair is not like yours.

Her skin is thick with powder.

Her worries curve in a direction you cannot follow.

Even her moon is too new.

But while she watches this moon

White round face upturned

A small reflection of its object

Briefly

Her heart is your heart.

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4 comments

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  • This is such a good poem. I admired it, despite that I somewhat disagree with the premise — to me, human nature is everywhere the same. But of course, there are cultural differences too.

    This lines:

    “Her worries curve in a direction you cannot follow.

    Even her moon is too new.”

    If I knew nothing else about you, Hell, than that you had composed those lines, I’d think you a poet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • In a way, it is about everyone being the same throughout time. Hair, makeup, specific worries (in her case, worry about losing the favor of the empress, or that her poetry can’t compare with her father’s) are all culturally based. Yes, this is comparable to getting fired by your boss or feelings of inadequacy. But not exactly. When we are enraptured by nature, we are feeling an awe that humanity has always felt and always will feel.
      It’s really encouraging to get kudos from a good writer! Thank you so much!

      Like

  • It felt reassuring. You write so beautifully.

    Liked by 1 person

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