Words of WonderWatching the moon – Izumi Shikibu

Watching the moon
at midnight,
solitary, mid-sky,
I knew myself completely,
no part left out.

by Izumi Shikibu
Original Language Japanese, English version by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani


Izumi Shikibu was born in Japan in the late tenth century, and from what I learned about her on Wiki and here, she lived a full life with various lovers and husbands before fully turning to Buddhism later in her life – and wrote many poems along the way. This particular poem I stumbled across years ago but can be found in what looks like a beautiful book edited by the poet Jane Hirshfield: Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry.

It’s one of those small and seemingly simple poems that just open a door into a wide and untold space. What would it be like to ‘know myself completely, no part left out’? Do I know myself like that? How would I know? What don’t I know? How can I find my way into that wholeness that speaks through these words? Or… am I there already and is it only a matter of allowing, and letting it be true? Questions to take to the full moon…


Photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash