The Pillow Book by Sei Shōnagon

Micaela Brinsley

From 枕草子 / Makura no Sōshi / The Pillow Book




That which lingers

A day of rigour.  An extended rush. Time in a temple, solitarily.




That which is constant

A pale-coloured, white-heavy overshirt. A borrowing. An encounter with Amazura's ice, the slice of a new sword. Crystal beads. Wisteria petals. Plum blossoms in snowfall. A gorgeous boy called Hitaru.




わざと思ひたちて宮仕に出で立ちたる人の、ものうがりてうるさげに思ひたる。人にもいはれ、むづかしき事もあれば、いかでかまかンでなんといふ言草をして、出でて親をうらめしければ、また參りなんといふよ。養子の顏にくさげなる。しぶ/\に思ひたる人 を忍びて壻にとりて、思ふさまならずとなげく人。

That which is wretched

Those who purposefully ingratiate themselves into the palace are obnoxious and lazy, I feel. These people scamper in, and when difficult circumstances arise, they make a big fuss and if you go and scold them, they whine again. Look back at you all sullen, with the face of a spoiled child. These cowards sneak up without thought on those with more patience, who are reluctant to refuse… how devastating.




That which is undesirable

To write poetry I’m praised for, that would be nice. But if to some far away person I know, with whom I wish to continue a relationship, I begin corresponding but out of laziness they don't even respond… what atrocious behaviour.




That which is painted

Dianthus. Cherry blossoms. Kerria. The silhouette of a happy couple satisfied by their story.

Sei Shōnagon was a Japanese writer, poet, and lady-in-waiting of Empress Teishi during the Heian period, roughly around 1,000 ADE. While a seminal member of Empress Teishi's literary and artistic court, Sei Shōnagon composed Makura no Sōshi (known in English as The Pillow Book), a diary and memoir of prose and poetic fragments.

Micaela Brinsley

Micaela Brinsley is one of the co-editors-in-chief of La Piccioletta Barca and editor of interviews, as well as fiction and essays.

Back to Issue
Also in this thread
This thread has no other posts