THE HOLES IN THE ROOF

The medieval Japanese woman Izumi Shikibu, whose life spans the late 10th to early 11th centuries, wrote a waka that we might render simply and loosely like this in English:

Where the wind

Blows through the gaps

In the roof,

The moonlight

Also shines in.


It amounts more to a kind of proverb than a poem — one gets the good with the bad, the light with the dark.  A pessimist will notice just the cold wind, but an optimist will see the moonlight.  Most of us lie somewhere between.

We could also see it as a kind of Buddhist parable:  the difficulties, suffering and impermanence of life can also be the impetus for us to take the path to enlightenment.

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3 thoughts on “THE HOLES IN THE ROOF

  1. Ruth Atkins

    Thank you, whomsoever, for this post, for this site. An ecological niche for those of us who feel born on the wrong planet and/or in the wrong century..

  2. A Year of Hokku

    Many of us, today, have lost touch with nature, and we experience nature only through these gaps. Some love what the “house” has to offer. I’d rather squeeze through a gap, never to return. Thanks for the waka, David.

  3. Ashley

    The comment from Ruth A above says it all! This is an amazing and insightful post and site! An island of light in the dark sea….!

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