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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars if you have any heart...
This collection of poetry blew me away. Most of the poems are quite short (4-5 lines), but they all carry as much meaning as any long poem I have read. This poetry is soulful, intellectually stimulating, and understandable. My favorite thing about this collection is how easily I could identify with the poetry. Most of the poems are about secret love, wanting someone,...
Published on November 4, 2000

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars Not what I hoped for
I bought this book because of a few special and passionate love poems I read on the web written by these two lady poets. But the fact is those few are the only ones like that! The rest are just descriptions of nature and similarities to human experience. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate very much poems about such things, but these are simply not as good as I had hoped. I...
Published 8 months ago by Minna


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38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars if you have any heart..., November 4, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This collection of poetry blew me away. Most of the poems are quite short (4-5 lines), but they all carry as much meaning as any long poem I have read. This poetry is soulful, intellectually stimulating, and understandable. My favorite thing about this collection is how easily I could identify with the poetry. Most of the poems are about secret love, wanting someone, loving someone, and leaving someone (both in body and spirit). There is also a large portion of the poems that were written about missing someone who has passed away, and I found it to be especially beautiful. If you have ever had a secret lover, or lost someone you will never forget, this is the poetry for you.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ink Dark Moon That Ignites Our Souls, October 15, 2001
This review is from: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
A magnificent translation of two women poets writing between the 9th and 11th centuries.The thoughtful translations convey the
feeling-tones of two women poets in a long bygone era in Japan.
The layout is aesthetically pleasing and each and every one of these short (4-5) line tanka keeps unfolding with subsequent readings. A must for any poet interested in writing tanka.
A well-crafted, magnificent translation.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and universal, February 11, 2007
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This review is from: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Unlike other reviewers, I am not an aficionado of Japanese poetry or culture, nor have I ever studied this period in Japanese history. I found this book entirely by chance buried in an obscure corner in my college library. I read a couple of random pages and fell in love. I checked it out repeatedly throughout my academic career, then bought it.

These women so effectively communicate, in few words, universal feelings of love. While the poems are deceptively simple, they manage to be so beautiful that I am amazed every time I pick it up.

Even more impressive than the writing is how easy it is to relate to the emotions behind it. As I have grown older and experienced so much more of life, I am surprised to find my own feelings mirroring one poem after another. What once seemed pretty words are eerily my own thoughts. It's amazing, considering they were written one thousand years ago!

If you're thinking about buying this, I suggest using the preview to read the few sample pages. If you like what you see, just get it. You won't be disappointed.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love poems from the Heian era., September 3, 2006
By 
frumiousb "frumiousb" (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani have done a marvelous job with the translation of these lovely tanka-- manages to capture both their fragility and robust complexity. I had an acquaintance who was a scholar with a focus on Japanese literature. She explained to me a little bit about the complexity of translating waka. I have nothing but admiration for those who can do it well. Hirshfield actually has an essay at the back of this book called "On Japanese Poetry and the Process of Translation". I recommend it highly, even if you do not normally read this kind of essay.

I am a little bit afraid that the focus on the love poems and the emphasis on Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu as female writers may give the wrong idea about the strength and importance of the poetry. Shikibu is widely considered the greatest poet of her period and Ono no Komachi was one of the Rokkasen-- the six best waka poets of the early Heian period. The reason that I am not giving this volume five stars is because of this packaging and not because of the poetry itself.

These poems are a joy to read aside from any issues of scholarship. They are strong and sad and very affecting. There is actually no stronger recommendation to read this than the poems themselves, so I will close this review with one of the poems by Shikibu:

What is the use
of cherishing life in spring?
Its flowers
only shackle us
to this world.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cherish the Touch, May 10, 2002
By 
Stuart McCrea (Cathedral City, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu would have been able to do credit to the effort to review this book of their poems. I envy the exquisite beauty of these poems. Across the centuries...a thousand years....the sensitivity and the depth of human feeling still touches deeply. In addition: the introduction, appendix and notes to poems are very informative and helpful in understanding the context of the times in which these poems were written and the complexities of the translation process. All of which makes the enjoyment of these works that much more comprehensive. The poems are beautiful beyond words and the translation superb.
Stu
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent book, December 28, 2002
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This review is from: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
This book is among my most treasured. These women's love and longing is so eloquently worded, and could be the very same heartaches any woman experiences today. A fascinating glimpse into a society I could only imagine. Excellently translated tanka. Extremely good. I would recomend it highly to anyone.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUMPTUOUS AND SEDUCTIVE, March 9, 2000
This review is from: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Having devoured numerous Japanese anthologies, I can assure you this is a pure delight. The translations are beautiful. The choice of poems is beautiful. The introduction is wonderful. And the layout is clean. A must for anyone with a heart and soul. A desert island choice.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic for All Time, September 6, 2007
By 
M. Kei "~K~" (Chesapeake Bay, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
The Heian period of Japan was artistically fertile time that produced numerous classic works of literature. It was even more remarkable in that most of the major literary figures of the time were women. Among those great women, Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu were two of the best. Their waka poetry (now called 'tanka') is some of the best literature ever written in Japan and the poetesses themselves have become the stuff of legend.

Doing justice in translating ancient Japanese into modern English is no easy task, but Hirshfield and Aratani have created translations that are as beautiful as the originals. Anyone who enjoys poetry, who loves love, or who is interested in other cultures and finding the universal passions of the human heart will enjoy this book.

--M. Kei, editor of Fire Pearls : Short Masterpieces of the Human Heart
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute enchantment, September 19, 1999
By 
This review is from: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
If only I could have the pleasure of meeting these two women. This is one of the most amazing books of poetry I have ever read- the passions in these poems have not died in the thousand years since they were written, even if the authors have.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pain & Sufferings, April 24, 2001
By 
Jocel (Pasay City, Philippines) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
I don't know how to begin, all I can say is that this is a very wonderful book. They have succesfully imprinted their emotions in their writings. You can realy feel what the authors are feeling at that time. Maybe it is not meant as a book but more so as an avenue of releasing their depression. The poems are very short, but the "feeling" that they wanted to convey is very much complete. You can even visualize what they are going though, the raw feelings and emotions. Don't take my word on it, just buy the book, you won't regret it.......
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