top of page

 Six Songs from the Japanese (Soprano, Violoncello) are drawn from Kenneth Rexroth’s translations of tanka, a give-line 31-syllable Japanese verse form that predates haiku. The poems deal with aspects of love. Nos. I and V are about yearning and waiting. In No. I, the singer takes a flirtacious tone, which the cello undergirds with an ostinato; however, the cello interludes express the underlying yearning. In No. V, the singer has given up on the beloved and is angry; this is reflected in the rapid and chromatic cello part. Nos. II and III form a second pair, this time about the fullness of love. The mental confusion in No. II is reflected in a cello part full of major second harmonics. The light character of No. III is undergirded by cello pizzicato. The final pairing is between Nos. IV and VI, both of which deal with death. No. IV is about the singer’s own death; an eerie atmosphere is provided by an underpinning of cello harmonics. No. VI is about the death of the beloved, portrayed by the cello in counterpoint with the voice.


You say, “I will come.”

And you do not come.

Now you say, “I will not come,”

So I shall expect you.

Have I learned to understand you?

 Lady Ōtomo No Sakanoe



Like Michinoku

Cloth, printed with tangled ferns,

My mind is disordered

Because of you,

But my love is not.

 Minamoto No Tōru



This morning I will not

comb my hair.

It has lain

Pillowed on the hand of my lover.

 Kakinomoto No Hitomaro


Will I cease to be,

Or will I remember

Beyond the world,

Our last meeting together?

 Lady Izumi Shikibu



I should not have waited.

It would have been better

To have slept and dreamed,

Than to have watched night pass,

And this slow moon sink.

 Lady Asazome Emon



Now to meet only in dreams,

Bitterly seeking, Starting from sleep,

Groping in the dark

With hands that touch nothing.

 Ōtomo no Yakamochi

bottom of page