Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Four Japanese ‘Death Poems’ With comment by John Birtwhistle

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

I have no house no wife no child   A dewdrop came and went

no wooden printing block     Once I governed Osaka

no money yet I wish for no death      that dream of dreams

Shihei Hayashi (1738–1793)    Hideyoshi Toyotomi (1536–1598)

I wish my life to end   Wherever has that dog got to?

under cherry blossom   I thought of him again

at the full February moon    tonight as I came to bed

Saigyō Hōshi, (1118–1190)   Shimaki Akahiko (1876–1926)

For a thousand years in Japanese culture, there has been a specific kind of very short poem which one composes either when actually on the verge of death, or else to prepare one's mind for that situation.1 This is known as a jisei, or …

View Full Text