A collection of poems from Noh


Here is a small collection from a recent book I have purchased known as ‘Printed Fans of Japan, 15 Noh Drama Masterpieces’, by Keiko Chiba. In the book is a nice collection of museum and performance quality hand fans used in Noh by the actors. Along with these fans are snippets of poems and verses from the play the fans are paired with. Here are some of the poems, they are rather interesting.

Since there’s no rice for poets
on the dole,
Let’s do flower arrangement
in the bowl.

Poem from: Noh dance known as ‘the Robe of Feathers’
Period: Mid Tokugawa


After a thousand years
Even the fir must pass away.
The morning-glory flaunts in pride
Its beauty of a day.

Period: late Tokugawa
Title of the Noh: Faded Beauty

Not wholly dark not shining
But softly glimmering,
Oh, beautiful beyond compare
The misty moon of a night in spring.
Period: Late Tokugawa
Play: Not listed

The mighty God of Thunder,
Whose footfall resounds in
Heaven’s plain above –
Not even he can put asunder
Us who are firmly joined by
Period: late Tokugawa
Title of the play: Dojo Temple

Lighting one candle with
Another’s flame
At dusk in spring – the same,
Yet not the same.
Period: middle Tokugawa
Title of the play: Lady Kogo


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