A Long Rainy Season

Looking at Women in Japanese Poetry & Short Stories


Pregnant realizations?

Ah, women

walking with ovaries
hanging inside--
the wind blows, the bamboo groves
cry from within.

-Ei Akitsu

This poem realizes the female's sexuality and reproductive capability. It demonstrates a strange awareness of reproduction, since obviously one cannot witness the ovaries in passing women.

I'm posting this poem because of the opposite-but-equal strangeness that occurs in "Pregnancy Diary," with the expecting woman as well as the narrator seemingly unable to acknowledge or realize that there is a budding human life in that belly. Perhaps this poem, with its "Ah" at the opening, is a flash of realization on the poet's part?

In a poem of such brevity, it is essential to analyze each word. I'd like to talk about the symbolic significance of bamboo. Bamboo, being hollow internally, could symbolize emptiness. However, it is also very hardy and durable--powerful on the outside but incomplete on the inside? Shinto shrines are also sometimes bordered by a bamboo grove to ward off evil.

What on earth could the bamboo grove in the poem refer to? Not sure yet...


Translation information!

A good article by the woman who compiled and translated the works in A Long Rainy Season.

It gives a look into how difficult and subjective it can be to attempt to translate poetry.

(This article was only accessible through University computers, but I uploaded it to a server...it takes about 15 seconds of waiting through an ad-filled page, but it's a great article and worth the wait!)



The poem that was the inspiration for the title:

The nuisance
of breasts-
a long rainy season.

--Nobuko Katsura

This short verse can either say quite a lot about the speaker as well as the state of being a woman. Conversely, it may simply be very literal--the physical burden of carrying breasts on one's chest.

a long rainy season

Here's a photo of the book I'll be analyzing:

It's a very interesting anthology, in part because many of the poems have never before been translated into English. It is also interesting in its sometimes shocking subject matter. Do not let the florid, dainty cover deceive!


Gearing up!

In various installments and with the help of many links and books, I will attempt to draw a connections among the mental anguishes of some of the women in the stories we've read, actual psychological conditions, and the material in the A Long Rainy Season.