Item description for Love Songs from the Man'yoshu: Selections from a Japanese Classic by Ian Hideo Levy, Makoto Ooka, Masayuki Miyata & Donald Keene...
It was the first golden age of Japanese civilization. Suddenly, in the eighth century, there appeared the great metropolis of Nara, its broad avenues lined with magnificent temples. Culture rushed in from Korea, from China, and, over the Silk Road, from as far away as Persia. And in this age Japanese literature found its first voice, a clear and powerful one, in the Man'yoshu. Literally "The Collection of the Thousand Leaves," this sweeping anthology, its poets ranging from emperors to beggars, is often considered the pinnacle of Japanese verse. In the Man'yoshu are found some of the most beautiful love poems in ancient world literature. Here are revealed the most private emotions of the men and women who thrived, and desired, and yearned thirteen hundred years ago. Here are the words, at times startlingly frank, at times exquisitely sophisticated, with which the lovers addressed each other as they moved through a world in which nature seemed animistically alive. Each enthrallment, each sorrow is delivered in a language that is fresh and immediate, filled with astonishingly rich natural imagery. The visual clarity is such that thirteen centuries seem to melt away, as if these poems had been written yesterday. Alongside each poem is an illustration by Miyata Masayuki, the renowned artist discovered by the great modern novelist Tanizaki. Powerfully and exquisitely erotic, the illustrations themselves constitute a major work of art. The result is a unique book in which the passions of eighth-century Japan are translated both into a vibrant contemporary English and a dazzling visual art.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 5.75" Height: 8.75" Weight: 0.9 lbs.
Release Date Oct 10, 2000
Publisher Kodansha International
ISBN 4770026420 ISBN13 9784770026422
Availability 0 units.
More About Ian Hideo Levy, Makoto Ooka, Masayuki Miyata & Donald Keene
Reviews - What do customers think about Love Songs from the Man'yoshu: Selections from a Japanese Classic?
Refined passion and intense sensuality Jul 23, 2005
The Man'yoshu ("The Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves") is Japan's greatest collection of poetry. Assembled during the golden age of the Nara period, it is a massive, multi-volumed multi-authored anthology, collecting poems praising the Imperial family, retelling old folktales and legends, revealing the sublime glory of nature, and the evocative power of love.
"Love Songs from the Man'Yoshu" combs though this massive text and distills out 35 gems of fire, passion, longing and sexuality, emotions that still drive the human race some 1,200 years later. The edition is bilingual, in both English and Japanese, with flawless translations by Ian Levy. Each poem is paired with a striking Kiri-e (Cut paper) piece by the late master Myata Masayuki, and with commentary by Ooka Makoto setting the stage and filling in the background of the period.
The Nara period was a time of some covert sexual freedom, where men and women did not live together, even married couples, and women awaited visitors who came cloaked in the cover of darkness, arriving at dusk and leaving at the first light of dawn. These visits were prefaced by a subtle dance of seduction, played out over coded love poems exchanged and answered by refined courtiers. Another man's wife was considered the most exotic and seductive of women, and the games of love had many enthusiastic players.
Whose words are these, spoken to the wife of another? Whose words are these, that bade me untie the sash of my robe?
Other flavor's of lover are on display as well, from a young girl who can not bear to utter the name of her secret love, for fear her emotions would be revealed to him, to a man waxing romantically on the cherry blossoms he is viewing, and how more complete it would be if his companion where here to view them together. All of the poems are intensely private and emotional, filled with the kind of depth that only a society as culturally rigid and bound as Japan's could engender.
Aside from these beautiful and ancient poems, Miyata Masayuki's artwork is enough reason alone to buy "Love Songs from the Man'Yoshu." Erotically charged scenes of beautiful women in various states of dress and undress are presented with both a spry whimsy and a fierce, fiery passion. Using his art form of cut paper, Masayuki makes the lines of the trees and the curves of the women's bodies flow together flawlessly, contrasting the bright colors of the kimono's and seasonal flowers with the stark white of their skin and deep black of their hair.
I shall not take a brush to this hair that lies dishevelled in the morning, for it retains the touch of my dear lord's arms that pillowed me.