Monday, 20 April 2009

a japanese poetics of hair

To punish men
for their endless sins,
god gave me
this fair skin,
this long black hair.

Akiko Yosano

My hair from sleeping this morning
I will not comb out the beauty you made of it
Making a pillow with your hand.

Murasaki Shikibu

Hair all tangled this morning -
Shall I smooth it

With spring rain
Dripping from the jet-black
Wings of swallows?

Akiko Yosano

A thousand lines
Of black black hair
All tangles, tangles --
And tangles too
My thoughts of love!

Akiko Yosano

Black hair
Tangled in a thousand strands.
Tangled my hair and
Tangled my tangled memories
Of our long nights of love making.

Akiko Yosano

To my black hair
Comes wafted
The scent of lilies
Like the breath of a man.

Akiko Yosano

Will he always love me?
I cannot read his heart.
This morning my thoughts are
as tangled as my black hair.

Lady Horikawa

With not a thought
for my black hair's disarray,
I lay myself down —
soon longing for the one
whose hands have so often brushed it smooth.

Izumi Shikibu


  1. bonjour Roxana j'ai loupé beaucoup de tes photos dans cette ambiance de ta magie; de ce point de vu shots qui suggére de prendre sont temps dans un sens non conforme...
    Quoi qu'il en soit l'homme prend conscience de lui-même quand il y a beautée....Merci pour le message sur le blogs Roxana. Allan

  2. Allan!!! comme tes mots m'ont manque! j'espere que tout va bien pour toi... je suis heureuse d'avoir de tes nouvelles...


  3. Gosh, you seem to know so many women! Wish I was a photographer! Can't you just buy a comb?

  4. indeed :-)
    how many centuries of japanese poetry would have been lost if those ladies had the practical mind of this 21st century anonymous :-)
    (if i trusted all those psychologists claiming that the male brain is targeted at finding the best and easiest way to solve problems, then would i be wrong to assume that you are a man? :-P)

  5. Un billet magiquement sensuel ou sensuellement magique : on se laisse emporter par l'ambiance intime, feutrée et nocturne créée par les mots et les images.

  6. Dans les caresses de ta chevelure, je retrouve les langueurs des longues heures passées sur un divan, dans la chambre d'un beau navire, bercées par le roulis imperceptible du port, entre les pots de fleurs et les gargoulettes rafraîchissantes.
    Dans l'ardent foyer de ta chevelure, je respire l'odeur du tabac mêlé à l'opium et au sucre; dans la nuit de ta chevelure, je vois resplendir l'infini de l'azur tropical; sur les rivages duvetés de ta chevelure je m'enivre des odeurs combinées du goudron, du musc et de l'huile de coco.

    too obvious? who cares! lol the only struggle was which bit to choose!

  7. Do you really need all those psychologists to tell you that?

    Yes, you would be wrong to assume that. You might conclude that it was so, though. But even then, only if you assume that the psychologists are also to be trusted in another claim: that the female 'brain' is never targeted at finding the best and easiest way to solve problems.

  8. A lovely collection of Japanese poetry. You've created a haven in this space, and I so enjoy visiting.

  9. Beautiful and erotic pictures. A longing like the first warm air of spring, suddenly brushing the back of my neck like fingertips, brushing my lips like a memory of her soft hair blown around me when we embraced in that breeze….


    A poem by Jack Gilbert, written after the death of his wife, the sculptor Michiko Nogami (very different from the poems you have here, I know, but still a tribute to the same erotic power):

    MarriedI came back from the funeral and crawled
    around the apartment, crying hard,
    searching for my wife’s hair,
    for two months got them from the drain,
    from the vacuum cleaner, under the refrigerator,
    and off the clothes in the closet.
    But after other Japanese women came,
    there was no way to be sure which were
    hers, and I stopped. A year later,
    repotting Michicko’s avocado, I find
    a long black hair tangled in the dirt.

    I think Gilbert’s poem must be a more-or-less conscious reply to this haiku of Buson, also about the lingering power of long, black hair (and it makes no difference that Buson’s wife had not died yet when he wrote it):

    the piercing cold—
    in our bedroom, stepping
    on my dead wife’comb

  10. Hi

    The poems are so evocative, so filled with longing, desire, memory and mood. But it is hair, not just black hair?
    your recent pictures have been filled with the same nostalgic moments of endurance that we have talked f in the past. suffice to say that that your new pictures are strikingly sensual if not'erotic' as some of your readers think.

    your collaboration with Swiss was a breath of fresh air, and your rendition was filled with breathy pauses of a most memorable kind. a great job! and a brilliant idea.
    i had been away so i am late in commenting. take care.

  11. I love number ones and five the most - the hair almost seems to be painted to form the alphabets of some beautiful, mystical, calligraphic script.

    Of course, the words are gorgeous too - and as always, so apt.

  12. belle source, nous partageons le meme amour pour la sensibilite japonaise, je le sais bien :-)

    merci pour tes mots gracieux...

  13. oh swiss, you made me remember all those incredible lines baudelaire wrote about her hair... no, it is never too obvious to quote him (i searched for an english translation but alas, how could it ever match the opium of his french? nevertheless:

    "In the caresses of your hair, I find again the languors of long hours passed upon a divan, in the cabin of a beautiful ship, rocked by the imperceptible rolling of the port, between pots of flowers and refreshing jugs.

    In the ardent hearth of your hair, I breathe the odor of tobacco mixed with opium and sugar; in the night of your hair, I see the infinity of tropical azur resplendent; on the downy shores of your hair I get drunk on the combined odors of tar, of musk, and of coconut oil."

    and this line above all: (his face plunged in her hair) "To drink deep of the wine of memory". AH!

    but now i realize i should make two poetics of hair, one japanese and one western - hmmm. and hmmm again!

  14. anonymous, you do make me laugh by being so serious. so you claim that i am wrong and you are not a man (perhaps i should ask: are you human at all, perhaps a bear? or a ghost? :-P). but because i am always right (i think you suspect that already) i will say that of course i don't even need to go to those psychologists for help. since your first exclamation: "Gosh, you seem to know so many women! i wish i was a photographer"

    cannot be that of a woman :-P

    anyway, i think one could say that women's brain too is targeted at finding the best and easiest way to solve problems, but in a different way: in the present case, the best and easiest way to solve their emotional problems is for these japanese ladies to write a poem. not to buy a comb :-)

    (omg - i hope that nobody will take this banter here for serious stuff)

  15. S., i am overwhelmed by your lovely words. i thank you for visiting...

  16. dear James, i fear i cannot reply to your comment, because it stirs everything up in me: i simply cannot deal with this image of the dead woman/wife/lover's hair, it is killing me.

    thank you.

  17. You insult me by calling me a bear. Tell me, can a bear-even if we assume he can read English-type on a keyboard with his paws? Can he have such profound thoughts? It is not religiously permissible to entertain such a view.

  18. oh kubla, don't worry about commenting late, i am so happy that you have commented at all! how are you? i so wish you'd come back and write again...

    i don't know how to thank you for your - as ever so intense - response to my images, and for echoing the feelings expressed in my posts.

    i guess it is bound to be black hair for japanese poets, but now that i think of, we should enlarge that poetics of hair to a further step: a poetics of black and one of fair hair. oh, but what will we do with the redhaired then? (Apollinaire has a magnificent poem called "The Pretty Redhaired")

    i am also happy that you liked the recited poem. thank you.

    (i wonder what is the difference you make between 'only sensual' and 'erotic'. i had thought that 'sensual' leads to 'erotic', only 'erotic' can be conceived of without the 'sensual' part, for example the japanese schoolgirl is erotic for so many but is certainly not sensual)

  19. Sz., thank you for your comment, i had thought of that too, hair like a mystical script... calligraphy on the skin, or on the pillow...

  20. anonymous, i haven't called you a 'bear', i merely oultlined a few other possiblities - i do hope that we still have the freedom of plurality? :-P

    but i see that this so-called 'insult' has prevented you to concentrate on the really profound aspects of my answer, what a pitty, tut tut :-)

  21. les images épousent si bien les mots!!!!