Japanese female poetry of Izumi Shikibu of the tenth and early eleventh century

Japanese female poetry of Izumi Shikibu of the tenth and early eleventh century

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The poetry of Izumi Shikibu and other female poets in Japan during the same period highlights that women played an important part of aspects of Japanese high culture. Of course, in common with much of the world, restrictions befell women in wider culture just like inequality persists in modern times throughout the world. Therefore, her delightful words and that of other female poets in Japan in this intriguing period continue to resonate today.

In the adorable poem below you can feel the real spirit of Izumi Shikibu. For you don’t feel any weakness or pandering to the ego of males. Instead, the words hit you with passion and the importance of the bigger picture.

She writes delightfully:

If the one I’ve waited for
came now, what should I do?
This morning’s garden filled with snow
is far too lovely
for footsteps to mar.

According to many individuals who adore Japanese high culture Izumi Shikibu is deemed to be one of the greatest female poets that blessed the Heian period in Japan. This says much because of the long-lasting nature of this period of Japanese history and the abundance of female poets.

In another poem she writes:

Watching the moon
at dawn
solitary, mid-sky,
I knew myself completely,
no part left out.

Izumi Shikibu is known for having many affairs and apparently overcoming scandals by forever wandering in her own world of passion. Indeed, she became known to be The Floating Lady. Of course, with so much passion being bestowed on the poet world in this period in Japan, then it impossible to know how much is overblown or if her wandering eye was truly part of her soul.

If so, the words of Izumi Shikibu seem appropriate in the following poem. For she writes, There is not even a moment of calmness. In the heart that loves the blossoms, the wind is already blowing.”

Overall, the legacy of Izumi Shikibu is intriguing for both her adorable poetry and her strength of character. Hence, irrespective of the shackles of society that women faced in the past – and continue to face in the modern world – she leaves behind a rich legacy based on passion.




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