Saturday, September 26, 2015

Death poems

On dVerse Poets Pub Gayle sets the challenge :  To write in haiku or tanka style to the theme of Jisei (Japanese death poems).

Gayle also says, "In ancient Japanese, Chinese and Korean cultures, a practice was used at the time of death to capture the last words spoken. This practice was called jisei (in Japan) or death poem and is the “farewell poem to life.” Jisei was written by monks, samurai, the literate and poets of these cultures. One of the earliest recorded jisei dates to 686 C.E. (Common Era) or in Christian terms, B.C. (before Christ) with the death of Prince Otsu who was the son of Emperor Temmu of Japan."

Japanese death poems - tanka


I hear the sea sing
in my veins, of homecoming.
Save your salty tears

for life and its sorry tales,
not me. I am going home.


This vain, heavy shell
I no longer need, fading
softly like daylight

surrenders to night, sighing
soft promises of return.


This shell will return
to its womb. My sinews will
turn into roots, limbs

into tree-trunks. And my song
will trill out from the tree tops.


Soon, I will be rain,
falling on seeds, springing them
into life. Lusty,

fecund, virile, alive. Death
is a mere wisp of a veil.