Friday, December 4, 2009

Yamabe no Akahito

Today, I give you a short, perfect love poem by Akahito, a Japanese poet of the 7th Century. That's pretty much all I know about him.  The translation is by Kenneth Rexroth.

I wish I were close
To you as the wet skirt of
A salt girl to her body.
I think of you always.

The salt girl of the poem is one who gathers and/or processes salt, rather than a Lot’s wife-style person composed of it. All the same, I’m sure it’s no accident that one pictures an actual salt woman. The image suggests both the crystalline purity and unreality of salt, which exists in a state of perfection and simplicity to which no human can hope to aspire, and its dissolvability. These seem nice twin metaphors for love objects in general. This poem reminds me of a quote I read somewhere from (I think) Lacan: that to love is to give something you don’t have to someone who doesn’t exist.

I felt like you had to have a bit of darkness to balance so much sweet.

Akahito on Wikipedia


  1. Many more Rexroth translations (along with lots of his own writings) are online at


  2. Thanks! You have a lovely blog yourself. :)