Izumi Shikibu

The Ink Dark Moon
  • The Ink Dark Moon

  • Here is a collection of sexy, brief, fleeting poems about love, lust and longing. They originate from a time in Japanese history where aristocratic women of the Heian court were free to marry and conduct love affairs according to their desires. Education and refinement were so highly valued that the courtly manner of expressing oneself, whether to give condolences for a death, to send back a forgotten fan, or to heighten the anticipation of a lover's visit, was with a poem of just five lines. A convention of secrecy surrounding love affairs fills these verses with palpable emotion.

    These vivid and erotic poems express love in all its forms, and do so with amazing economy of words, unforgettable imagery and breath-taking modernity.

    'They are full of dreams, of autumns, of lovers known or not yet met, of desire, wonderment, loneliness' Irish Times

    Editor Jane Hirschfield and translator Mariko Aratani have created an edition that bring the story of the poems to life with a full-length introduction and notes on the translation.

Izumi Shikibu, born c.974, was the daughter of a lord who came to the Heian court to serve a former empress. During her time there she had two prominent love affairs to men who both died, was embroiled in scandal, and was married and divorced. When she married her second husband she accompanied him to his post in the provinces and never returned to court life. She is thought to have died around the age of 60. Her reputation as a poet grew after her death and she is now regarded as one of the outstanding poets of Japanese literature.

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