Japanese death poems

This post needs a little explanation. I participated in a poetry class over the last six months. Our fearless leader, Jeanne Rana, invited us every two weeks to try traditional poetic forms: pantoum; villanelle; haiku; dekaaz; the “I am” poem; triolet; sentence down the side; Beatitudes; and today, our final meeting, Japanese death poems.

The instruction around Japanese death poems or jisei: these poems traditionally are spoken on the poets’ or warriors’ deathbed. Their final words.

Jeanne gave us only two minutes to write as many as we could—I believe to get us out of our minds and into our hearts. They are not titled. I have a favorite; do you?

the silken thread

now, now

light blossoms

dear world

carry my love

surprise me

I leave
my warmth

trust, trust, trust
what else is there?

breathe light
instead of air

this, too

love the
whole catastrophe

2022 ©Amrita Skye Blaine
I’m writing a poem a day. These are drafts—they may never turn into anything more or they might flower.

14 thoughts on “Japanese death poems

        1. However you commented on this Japanese Death poems post, this is the way to do it! It’s perfect and readable.
          I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Boudewijn made license-plate holders–many years ago–that say “This is it. Only now.”


  1. Rebecca

    “Loved the whole catastrophe,” and “I leave my warmth.” And, too, “Breathe light instead of air.” “Loved the whole catastrophe” is more me than any of them!


I welcome comments and discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s