Friday, July 17, 2009

Written on the sky - poems from the Japanese

I came across this book recently in the ever visited Norli bookstore. It is a small volume of Japanese poetry translated by Kenneth Rexroth, of whom the back flap tells me was "considered by many as the father of the San Francisco renaissance of the 1940s", and "brought public attention to world poetry through his [...] brilliant translations of Chinese and Japanese poetry".
What first caught my eye was, I must confess, the book's cover. The digital representation to the left here doesn't completely give the real book credit. It is a small, glossy black piece with the flowers and letters printed in a thick golden material, and the embellishment also flows across the book's back. The design reminds me of art deco, only with Eastern patterns and images.
So much for the cover, here is a sample poem:

How can I blame the cherry blossoms
for rejecting this floating world
and drifting away as the wind calls them?

(By "Shunzei's daughter")

There is something about the Japanese and cherry blossoms. As well as moonlight. Their very own kind of melancholy.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Summer melancholy and Kent

Again with the melancholy and the Scandinavians. It seems to me that every summer, bright, short, warm, damp, cool, whatever is going on in my life, the inevitable summer melancholy hits. Why is it?

Anyway, I remember discussing this with a friend about 10 years ago. We both have the same inclination to the still waters of the mind and she mentioned how she every summer returned to the Swedish rock group Kent. And tonight, I did exactly that. What better soundtrack to a melancholy lone summer evening? I think it's actually been a few years now since I listened to this band, but my! do they bring back my 18 year old self. Or rather, they remind me of everything which was back then and allow that old self image to exist as a ghostly figure right next to the presentday me. It's a weird feeling, but weird in a good way - like being a doubly developed picture from a camera taking snapshots from different epochs.
I kind of like that idea, existing on many levels at once while showing only one face to the world.
But I've got to say this for the melancholy: It's widely different now from before. Far less consuming, more...pleasurable I think is the right way to put it. I guess I rather like my hits of summer melancholy.
Awww, and this makes me think of The Smiths. Sigh. What a great band for adolescent longing. I guess I know the next band for my nighttime playlist.