Poem: ‘Conversation with Murasaki’

Tom Lowenstein

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Murasaki Shikibu was the 11th-century author of The Tale of Genji, which contains almost a thousand classical verses. Sei Shonagon was her contemporary and the author of The Pillow Book.

Koto: a zither-like instrument
Waka: classical verses
Mono no aware: ‘the pitiful transience of existence’
Anicca: impermanence
Ambitabha: the Buddha of the Western Paradise or Pure Land
Hokku: 17-syllable verse