Books / Reviews

Man’yo Luster

Man’yo Luster, by Susumu Nakahashi, Translated by Ian Hideo Levy, Photos by Hakudo Inoue.
Pie Books, Poetry.

Compiled in the eighth century during the Nara Period, the “Man’yoshu” (“Collection of 10,000 Leaves”) is the oldest anthology of domestic poetry. It includes the works of hundreds of poets — from emperors and military chiefs to farmers and beggars — who tackle such subjects as imperial demise, erotic longing, urban sophistication and a yearning for travel. Underpinning each piece are reflections on experiences of the natural world: “I loathe the two seas / of life and death,” reads one poem, “and so I long for the mountains / where tides never rise.” This book offers new translations and Hakudo Inoue’s photographs of seasonal landscape help add a dynamic touch of chemistry to the poetry.