Non Pareil


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(Image: Wikimedia Commons)


It is quite futile

to torment oneself over

the inconstancy

of the opposite sex, she

declared, with a sigh.

The cockerel crowed early

and she had not slept,

but she trespassed on his dreams.

He left the woman’s chamber

on the first pretext.

Now he was back home,

there was no comparison-

just as sprigs of plum blossom

differ greatly from cherry.


No Reproach


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Image result for The Lady of Aashiqui Genji

(Genji meets his daughter for first time: The Wind in the Pines,

Burke Collection, NY. Toso Mitsunori – 1583-1638)


When the snow drifted

and thick ice glazed the river,

the child and her doll

were despatched in a carriage,

without her mother,

but in the charge of her nurse.

It did not take long

till she transferred affection

to her generous guardian.

Genji visited

The Lady of Ashaki.

Could he make amends?

She offered him no reproach,

as they played a brief duet.


Genji takes his daughter from the Akashi lady in order to move her into his own house “A Rack of Clouds” Sumiyoshi Gukei (1631-1705)

(A Rack of Clouds Sumiyoshi Gukei 1631-1705  Picture taken from a Tumblr site on The Tale of Genji: mostbeautifulgenji. The author didn’t say where they had found it. Will be glad to acknowledge location, if told)

The Dream


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Sumiyoshi Taisha2.jpg

(KENPEI, 2007, Wikipedia)


A fierce tempest roared

like an angry sea monster.

His lady’s message

revealed a depressive mood.

Was it the world’s end?

The god of Sumiyoshi

must be placated,

or he would be drowned in sins.

Lightning struck his chamber and

his father appeared to him

in a dream, ordering his

departure forthwith.

He deferred to the gods’ sign

boarding a leaky vessel.

‘Hope’ at The Hintze Hall, Natural History Museum.


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File:The Cetacea.jpg

(LittleJerry: photo montage, Sept 1st, 2015. Wikimedia )


Look up and see, between the extant and

the dead, suspended, a Cetacean.

Hunted to nigh extinction by man’s hand:

whaling nations versus Leviathan.

‘Earth’s sustainability’ is our phrase;

her skeleton shows strength; fragility.

And still these awesome creatures strand in bays –

plastic, noise, our responsibility.

Across oceans we cannot hear their groans;

schools’ codes of subtle communication,

but in two hundred and twenty one bones,

can we detect syllabic salvation?

If ‘Hope’ becomes a symbol of respect,

destruction of our planet may be checked.

Nil Desperandum


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‘You could see it as a triumph of hope

over experience,’ the best man said.

‘He has hanged himself twice with his own rope

and he is lying in his own made bed.

To lose a wife was careless, but two…!

Third time lucky is what we wish for him.

To pull this latest one is quite a coup.’

Everyone was laughing, but the bride, grim,

brushed her hair from the tattoo on her neck:

Nil Desperandum – she had just had it done.

The sheepish groom thought, ‘I really must check

whom he quoted – Oscar Wilde, Dr Johnson?’

‘Sperm in alium,’ the cynics might say

when she posts her wedding gown on E-Bay.

The Concert


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detail, Activities of the Twelve Months

(Smithsonian’s Museum of Asian Art)


To ichikotsu

mode, the instrument was tuned.

Third Princess tried hard

to blend with the others.

Willow-like, she stood,

her hair like trailing leaves.

But Murasaki’s

hair was a cascade in spate.

Some instruments move the gods

and demons also.

The envoi, in minor mode,

marked a subtle shift

in the harmonious play.

Discord crept in stealthily.



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Image result for Tamakazura Genji

(William Sturgis Bigelow collection, MFA, Boston)


Her women withdrew.

The breeze rustled the bamboo.

Now was the auspicious time.

Unexpected revulsion

at his advances!

His reproach came by letter

and further assaults

in increased correspondence.

She felt the trap was closing.

Business-like replies

on Michinoku paper

were all she could send.

To depend on such a man

was regrettably one’s fate.

Leaving Akashi


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(Scroll image:Museum Fine Arts, Boston_ Wm Sturgis Bigelow Collection)


Back in the city,

the salt burners’ pungent whiff

lingered on his clothes.

Before any discordance,

he hoped to return.

Would the koto stay in tune?

He wept to leave her,

as he’d wept on arrival.

When Murasaki was told,

about the lady,

she shrugged porcelain shoulders.

He took the reproof,

so gently given, yet wrote

two further love messages.





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Back to The Tale of Genji and another choka:


The wormwood unpruned

and the bullrushes thickened;

bindweed chokes the gate;

brambles deter thieves, while dust

settles in the hall.

Outside tree spirits,

now emboldened, break cover.

Though neglected, she keeps faith.

The Prince passes by;

detects familiar scent:

the wistaria!

Her stoicism

lends her added dignity;

her defects seem diminished.