“Love in Ruins” by Ise

Lady Ise was one of the most important Japanese poets in history, the woman with the most pieces collected in the imperial anthology Kokin Wakashū (Kokinshū). Named one of the Sanjūrokkasen or 36 Immortals of Poetry, Ise was born in the late 9th century CE and became involved in relationships with Prince Atsuyoshi and Emperor Uda. Her witty and moving poems still resonate today.

Since his heart is not
some bleak ancestral village,
decaying and cold,
why does his love for me seem
to crumble into ruin?

—Kokinshū 741, translated by David Bowles
March 20, 2014

Original Japanese

furusato ni
aranu mono kara
waga tame ni
hito no kokoro no
arete miyuramu

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