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Six Empress Jito poems from the Japanese anthology Man’yoshu

A poet whose work offered a bird’s eye view of Japanese palace life

(Translation by Ian Hideo Levy)

  • (28)
  • Spring has passed,
  • and summer seems to have arrived:
  • garments of white cloth
  • hung to dry
  • on heavenly Kagu Hill.
  • (76)
  • I can hear the bowstrings twang
  • on the brave men’s leather armbands
  • as the warrior’s general
  • stands the shields for drill.
  • (78)
  • If I depart, and leave behind
  • the village of Asuka,
  • where the birds fly,
  • I shall no longer be able
  • to see the place where you abide.
  • (147)
  • Turning to gaze
  • upon the fields of heaven,
  • I see my Lord’s long life
  • Stretch to fill the firmament.
  • (148)
  • My eyes can see
  • your presence hovering
  • over Kohata,
  • of the blue flags,
  • but I cannot meet you in the flesh.
  • (149)
  • As the living are unfit
  • for commune with the gods,
  • so I am separated from you,
  • Lord whom I grieve for in the morning,
  • so I am kept from you,
  • Lord whom I long for.
  • If you were a jewel,
  • I would wrap you round my wrist.
  • If you were a robe,
  • I would never take you off.
  • Lord whom I long for,
  • last night I saw you
  • in a dream.
Empress Jito

Empress Jito (645-703 AD) was the 41st monarch of Japan and a poet whose work offered a bird’s eye view of Japanese palace life. Her poems were of such renown that they appeared in the classic Japanese anthology, the Man’yoshu (“Ten Thousand Leaves”). Jito ruled for eleven years (686-697) after her husband and uncle, Emperor Tenmu, died. She was the daughter of Emperor Tenji (626-672), who also wrote verse which appeared in the anthology.

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(Translation by Ian Hideo Levy)

  • (28)
  • Spring has passed,
  • and summer seems to have arrived:
  • garments of white cloth
  • hung to dry
  • on heavenly Kagu Hill.
  • (76)
  • I can hear the bowstrings twang
  • on the brave men’s leather armbands
  • as the warrior’s general
  • stands the shields for drill.
  • (78)
  • If I depart, and leave behind
  • the village of Asuka,
  • where the birds fly,
  • I shall no longer be able
  • to see the place where you abide.
  • (147)
  • Turning to gaze
  • upon the fields of heaven,
  • I see my Lord’s long life
  • Stretch to fill the firmament.
  • (148)
  • My eyes can see
  • your presence hovering
  • over Kohata,
  • of the blue flags,
  • but I cannot meet you in the flesh.
  • (149)
  • As the living are unfit
  • for commune with the gods,
  • so I am separated from you,
  • Lord whom I grieve for in the morning,
  • so I am kept from you,
  • Lord whom I long for.
  • If you were a jewel,
  • I would wrap you round my wrist.
  • If you were a robe,
  • I would never take you off.
  • Lord whom I long for,
  • last night I saw you
  • in a dream.
Empress Jito

Empress Jito (645-703 AD) was the 41st monarch of Japan and a poet whose work offered a bird’s eye view of Japanese palace life. Her poems were of such renown that they appeared in the classic Japanese anthology, the Man’yoshu (“Ten Thousand Leaves”). Jito ruled for eleven years (686-697) after her husband and uncle, Emperor Tenmu, died. She was the daughter of Emperor Tenji (626-672), who also wrote verse which appeared in the anthology.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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