Six Shunga

Courtesans of One of the Green Houses

Courtesans of One of the Green Houses
Kitao Shigemasa (Japan, 1739-1820), Katsukawa Shunshō (Japan, 1726-1792) - LACMA Collections

Authored by A. S. Kline © Copyright 1999 All Rights Reserved.

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Poems for Japanese Prints


Silence flows sweetly from your closed eyes.

The flower of faith opens in the dawn light.

Night of this joy, of these feelings.

Two clear souls afloat on the endless sea.


Gone beyond holding and releasing,

this fragrance of rivers and of seas.

No words to express your worth for me, your meaning,

the truest wind-blown flower, the deepest cloud.


Whispers of love to your graceful silence.

We make our new song until the fragrant dew.

One night of the precious bed between sad longings

entwines our spirits for a lifetime, ten thousand years


Eyes that question chase the falling dew.

Watching this pale sky what do you see ?

One flower opening beneath the plum-tree's branch.

Leaves in the moonlight making their new song.


Distant silence after intimate feeling.

This resonance is the bell-sound of the earth

ringing in the empty moonlit garden.

Pledging myself to the ancient faith,

I sweep again the stairs of the midnight temple.


This night we climb again to the stars.

Together again we rest on rivers and seas.

Endlessly twined these joyous butterflies,

these midnight blossoms falling in the dawn.