Written by court princesses, exiled officials, Zen priests, and recluses, the 150 poems translated here represent the rich diversity of Japan’s poetic tradition. Varying in tone from the sensuous and erotic to the profoundly spiritual, each poem captures a sense of the poignant beauty and longing known only in the fleeting experience of the moment. The translator has selected these five-line tanka—one of the great traditional verse forms of Japanese literature—from sources ranging from the classical imperial anthologies of the eighth and tenth centuries to works of the early twentieth century.
"Hamill lets the lines flow almost seamlessly into each other, sometimes achieving perfect 'pitch' and hitting a natural, almost accidental end rhyme. . . . It seems clear that Hamill has found his calling in translation. With each new volume, we are the luckier for it."—The Japan Times