Jisei – Part Two – d’Verse Poetics

Today at d’Verse Poetics Pub, Gayle has gifted us with a wonderful and informative prompt on Japanese death poems – jisei.  I submitted one but decided to pull some from my notebook to add.  I hope you all don’t mind.  I. is senryu form II & III are haiku Iv. tanka V. tanka – embedded in a previous d’Verse prompt on chivalry and knights. This is from a poem about a Samurai as he prepares to leave for battle and is the poem he left for his family. The Samurai is fictional but is based on a friend of mine – a modern Samurai of sorts.

Here is the link to come and visit us:  http://dversepoets.com/2015/09/24/jisei-japanese-death-poems

end of a long day –
frozen rain on my roof – I
dream under warm quilt.

the white peony
bright yesterday and fragrant –
today petals fall.

water of autumn
clear now summer storms are past –
winter ice beckons.

grey heron waits in
pond for fish to come – so still
they swim around his
legs not dreaming they will soon
be captives in his beak.

Death Poem of Masashi Kenata – 1538 – 1580
bitter winter winds –
in the garden the sleeping
cherry blossoms wait
for spring sun to awaken –
I can only dream.

copyright kanzensakura


40 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)
    Sep 24, 2015 @ 16:52:54

    A great collection.. the white peony .. a truly magnificent one. Just like a symbolic one I love.


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 24, 2015 @ 16:54:22

      Thank you. I played with that one for quite a bit before I became satisfied with it. It has moved from the “to be worked on” part of my folder to the “complete”.


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 25, 2015 @ 14:09:35

      I love peonies and they do not last that long. Ours last about a week on the bush and those I cut and bring in the house fill it with their fragrance, but…soon the petals drop on the table just as they do outside.


  2. Bodhirose
    Sep 24, 2015 @ 17:16:17

    A nice collection to add to your others…thanks for that, Toni. My favorite is the death poem of the samurai…feels so pensive somehow.


  3. Victoria C. Slotto
    Sep 24, 2015 @ 17:21:41

    I could spend all day reading and writing these. Thank you for sharing more. Doesn’t it make you wonder exactly what nature will bring to our dying scenes?


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 25, 2015 @ 14:06:20

      It does indeed make me wonder. You and I have sat by many bedsides and seen so much. This form is incredible to write and read and not at all morbid. So many filled with hope. It is comforting.


  4. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap
    Sep 24, 2015 @ 17:38:59

    Great and what a beautiful photo. Nature’s best. 🙂


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 25, 2015 @ 14:04:39

      Hi Paulette~ I hope you and hubby and pups are well. I see all the wildfires and just shiver. I think of the people and the poor animals….I send up all the positive thoughts I can for their help and protection, grateful there are people there like you to look after those deserted or lost.


  5. Kathy Reed
    Sep 24, 2015 @ 18:14:35

    Just lovely ..several verses together make a wonderful piece…cherry blossoms are a common denominator in many death poems, aren’t they?


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 24, 2015 @ 18:27:49

      Yes they are. Once they bloom, the petals have fallen in just a few days. The Japanese often equate the brief life of the Samurai with the brevity of the Sakura. The beautiful brief blooming of the flowers and the lives.


  6. Grace
    Sep 24, 2015 @ 18:49:54

    A lovely collection Toni ~ My favorites are 2 (white peonies) and 4 (grey heron) ~ I also enjoyed the last one about the samurai ~


  7. Sherry Marr
    Sep 24, 2015 @ 23:02:08

    Beautiful, each one. I especially love the heron and the unsuspecting fish. Sort of like we humans, unaware of all that is to come.


  8. MarinaSofia
    Sep 25, 2015 @ 02:32:41

    Another dazzling bouquet of poems. The flower metaphors just work so well – especially the peony reminds me of feminine beauty, so transient, fading so easily. The samurai more like a camellia – falling in one fell swoop in battle.


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 25, 2015 @ 07:03:50

      Yes ma’am and you would know that.  They never wore or used them in symbols for that very reason.  Here in the South, camellias bloom in early winter and the early and late spring. Beautiful blooms but so messy with petals always in clumps on the ground.  We never had the red ones because the petals looknlike clumps of blood on the ground.

      Sent by Outlook for Android

      From: kanzen sakura

      Sent: Friday, September 25, 2:32 AM

      Subject: [kanzen sakura] Comment: “Jisei – Part Two – d’Verse Poetics”

      To: thspencer51@hotmail.com



      • MarinaSofia
        Sep 25, 2015 @ 07:14:28

        We have a pink camellia in front of our house in England and I always seemed to be travelling the week – really, just one week – that it was in flower, so I’d always come back to that clump on the ground!


        • kanzensakura
          Sep 25, 2015 @ 13:53:23

          We have a fall blooming camellia – Cleopatra – the blooms are deep rose and single and look like butterflies on the dark green foliage. Not as big of a mess! You have been doing a great deal of travel lately! I imagine the barbarian hordes have had a field day!


  9. Prajakta
    Sep 25, 2015 @ 05:18:36

    Mind-blowing work here! You have a way with flowers, you give them a new life.


  10. Mama Zen
    Sep 25, 2015 @ 13:22:45

    Such restrained elegance. Beautiful work.


  11. narcissus101
    Sep 25, 2015 @ 13:27:03

    Ohh…. now I get it…..its like you’re telling me the entire story but with just one sentence, and that is really intelligent


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 25, 2015 @ 13:42:39

      Exactly. I don’t know how intelligent my poems are to be honest, but I try. There is also a rhythm pattern to certain Japanese forms: for a tanka the number of syllables per line is: 5-7-5-7-7 If you want to get really classy or need more space, you can do a footprint of Buddha which is the tanka with one additional line of 7 syllables…haiku….I do traditional haiku rather than the Americanized sentences. haiku is 5-7-5 with a season word in the first line – kigo. There are lists of season words on Google along with more detail as to content, etc. Haiku have season word. Its cousin, senryu, is also 5-7-5 but is not a seasonal snapshot like haiku. It can be sarcastic, funny, or personal snapshot. Sorry, don’t mean to lecture here. My specialty is Japanese poetic forms and I tend to get really wordy about my love. The poem for your sister was so lovely and made me wish for a brother with such love.


  12. Candy
    Sep 25, 2015 @ 19:19:41

    all so perfect. I especially like the peony reference


  13. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade)
    Sep 25, 2015 @ 23:48:24

    I particularly like the white peony.


  14. Bryan Ens
    Sep 26, 2015 @ 18:37:30

    love the image of the fish swimming around the legs of the heron. Do we, too, flirt with death without realizing it?


  15. whimsygizmo
    Sep 27, 2015 @ 15:07:53

    The stilted lines add much to the feel of these. Well done.


  16. Sanaa Rizvi
    Sep 27, 2015 @ 15:54:49

    This is a gorgeous collection Toni 😀


  17. Mary
    Sep 27, 2015 @ 16:10:57

    Hi Toni….only one link per person on Poetry Pantry; so I am going to have to de-link this one. Sorry.


    • kanzensakura
      Sep 27, 2015 @ 16:13:17

      It’s the same one. I didn’t see my first one so I hit it again. If the first is there, then please do delink the second. I enjoyed going around and reading all the links.


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