seven poems of Japanese aesthetics (english poetry)

I’m always on the prowl for ambient sounds apt for concentration, quest which led me to some of the most endeared songs of my library. Recently, I came across Ensō, by Fort Nowhere, followed by my procurement of what Ensō meant, the discovery of that Japanese spiritual practice, along with Japanese aesthetics, which I explored through various sources until I came upon this article, which features a series of Japanese aesthetic principles along with an Ensō ( which completed a full circle in my quest, interestingly).
Inspired by the various principles presented in the article, I attempted to create seven compositions related to how those principles interact (although at times a bit loosely) with my own ontological views. I paired each principle with a material or substance, to have both a thematic and a cosmetic focus for each poem. They are simple, very simple poems, some plangent, some more delicate, all of them written in the same style but independent of one-another, which means you may read only the one you feel most drawn to, or read all in the hope that you might like at least one of them. They are ordered as follows:

Fukinsei, Clay;
Seijaku, Incense;
Kanso, Plastic;
Shizen, Leaf;
Datsuzoku, Skin;
Shibumi, Bristle;
Yugen, Water.

Fukinsei, clay

SEIJAKU, incense






Needless to say, they are more modernistic than oriental in tonality and form, but my primary attempt was to coalesce the two in my own style. I don’t feel that I was fully successful, but I decided to heed to my most oriental principle: just to let them be. I produced them in two hours, in Portuguese, and did not edit them.
I still hope you managed to extract something valuable or, at least, be entertained.
Thank you much for reading,

Published by João-Maria

A tick clinging to the bristles of a purple boar.

17 thoughts on “seven poems of Japanese aesthetics (english poetry)

  1. When I read your work, I feel like a barbarian at the gates of Rome. I am in awe of your vocabulary, stunned to silence by the grace of your compositions, enthralled by your very thoughts. Anything I think to write in response feels pithy in comparison, yet I’m compelled to express my admiration, my sheer respect for your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thank you so much.
      I’m not often complimented with such vigour, but it is somewhat curious to get such praise from you, as I equally admire your own written visions. We all bring an odd baggage into these lights of our lives; I bring circumlocutions and incarnadine words into a mixture of confused sincerity, which works more in my detriment than anything, as you can read above.
      You have a hyaline and olfactory sense of matters, you peer into their most vaporous qualities, and you do it so naturally, one could truly believe you were unaware of such talent.
      I suppose we are all both masters and slaves of and to our own constructions.
      Again, thank you so much for this endearing comment.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Great poetry! While reading, I had a feeling of familiarity recognizing a “voice” that English hasn’t revealed itself in me, yet. Now I understand that it was the Portuguese vibe I was sensing. Great poems!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I do. Great poetry in your poems. I find myself being blocked, I can’t translate or think in my native language when a poem comes to me in English. There’s something missing. I feel this almost every time. But you inspired me, so I will try more. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Romanian, right? I visited București and Târgoviște a couple years back; what a beautiful country, Walachia is the crown jewel of the Danubian range.
        I tend to read in five different languages, Portuguese, Italian, English, Spanish and French. When it is time to compose, I import figures from all of them, and the process of translation can become rather muddy. At times, things simply need to be altered in order to fit. I’ve also composed directly in English and French, but some tiny element is always missing; the vivid and pellucid element of simple inner communication, one we often learn alongside our mother tongue, sort of monopolizes the way we feel, because we tend to feel in those ways and those constructions.
        The very act of translating, though, can be tricky. Milosz, for example, composed in both English and Polish, but he didn’t make it a custom to translate any of them into the other, effectively creating two wide branches of poetic expression. I’m not as confident or talented or experienced as he was, so, for now, I translate for the practice.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yes, Romanian. There are plenty of beautiful places in my country, not only in Wallachia. (I’m impressed you know this!) If you ever want to visit again, let me know. Many years ago I had the chance to visit Lisbon, for one day only, on my way to a seaside resort. I was really sorry for not having the time to see more of Lisbon. It seemed a different world of colours and shapes, at least this is how I perceived it at that age.
        Five languages, wow! I don’t know if it’s a saying or just something a grandmother told to her grandson but here it is: “in life you can be many persons, as many as the number of languages you know.” I guess she was unknowingly referring to the different channels or compartments our mind is switching on when it comes to languages and their unique universe. In our attempt to transpose feelings and their nuances into words, mother tongue might come in first, indeed. But this inner communication might also be ‘language-less’ or better said, it could transcend the limitations of all known languages. It could be that unique, individual voice trying to express itself through words.
        I tend to think in one language at a time and only when I’m stuck, the other one comes in to help. It happens both ways. Sometimes English words pop-up faster than Romanian ones even if I am actually speaking Romanian. I used to know French, too, when I was young, but forgot almost everything. As for the latin languages, I think we can all understand quite a bit, even if we never learned them. In writing, Portuguese has much in common with Romanian. But we can’t say the same thing about speaking, can’t we? 🙂 Thank you for such a meaningful conversation.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah!, I’m so very glad you enjoyed it. I think the intellectual part is just a shroud; if you peer into them, they are quite basic. I’m not that smart, but I’m truly determined, and sometimes one passes for the other.

      Thank you so much, Lesly!, your comment warms me deeply.


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