Abe's Second Chance

Letter from Japan

"Even the heart free / Of all longing for this world / Is moved to sadness, / When in the autumn twilight / The snipe rises from the marsh.” So wrote Sato Norikyo (1118–90), who at the age of twenty-two abandoned the Heian court and his position as a Palace Guard to become a Buddhist monk, taking the name Saigyo. The pensive mood of his poetry no doubt reflects the turbulent times in which he lived. Power had passed from the refined but effete nobility to the ruthlessly...

The remainder of this article is only available to paid subscribers.

Print subscribers to Commonweal are entitled to free access to all premium online content. Click here to purchase a print subscription, or if you’re already a print subscriber, register now for premium access.

Online-only subscriptions provide access to all premium online articles for just $34/year or $2.95/month. Click here to subscribe.

Registered users, please log in below:

Or log in with...


About the Author

Charles De Wolf is a linguist and translator of Japanese literature. He is professor emeritus at Keio University, where he continues to teach linguistics and comparative culture.

Also by this author