Travel Back a Thousand Years

Sunday Scribblings, if you don't already know, is a blog that “was set up to provide inspiration and motivation for anyone who enjoys writing and would like a weekly challenge.”
This week’s prompt is: a thousand years, and inspiration is what I found in the form of a poet that lived a thousand years ago.

Izumi Shikibu lived in Japan between 970 and 1033 AD and she is still known today for her beauty, her lovers, and her poems. Thirteen of which have survived time.

Thank you Sunday Scribblings. Without you I doubt I would have found Izumi’s beautiful words. To read something that was written in a completely different time, culture, a world so different from today’s is like time traveling from the comfort of my living room.

Below is one of Izumi’s more famous poems. Enjoy.

Things I Want Decided

Which shouldn't exist
in this world,
the one who forgets
or the one
who is forgotten?

Which is better,
to love
one who has died
or not to see
each other when you are alive?

Which is better,
the distant lover
you long for
or the one you see daily
without desire?

Which is the least unreliable
among fickle things-
the swift rapids,
a flowing river,
or this human world?
Izumi Shikibu

Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Arantani - The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono No Komachi and Izumi ShikibuTo read more from Izumi Shikibu check out - The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono No Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, compiled by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Arantani


  1. There is so much truth to ponder in all of Izumi Shikibu's words. She must have had a lot of time on her hands to come up with such comparisons. Mind you the flowing river seems the less unreliable!

  2. Interesting glimpse into the past.

  3. What a beautiful poem, Paula! Thanks for sharing. Isn't amazing how words written 1,000 years ago can still sound appropriate for today? I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same. Loved this post!

  4. Kiki. Yes, it is amazing how timeless her questions are.

    Berowne and Oldegg, thanks for stopping by. I'm still pondering the last question in the poem.

  5. i find depth in her words... thanks for sharing her wise words with us :)

  6. Cool. Thanks for sharing that beautiful poem!

  7. Questions, always questions, but where do we find the answers - and which answers will be right?


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