The Analects of Naneun (Pt. 6)


This is the final post of my six part English translation of (a few select pages of) my 1999 Japanese zuihitsu The Analects of Naneun (a.k.a. ナヌンの論説: nanun no ronsetsu). I will be releasing the second wave of translations later in the year, so I hope you will join me then. Thank you for reading them and for your input. For more information see Part One.

(Each analect is to be meditated upon for many hours and days, rather than read momentarily like poems. Thus I encourage you to read a single one and stop for at least a few minutes to contemplate it, and let it seep into your subconscious; let the kotodama arise within after your eyes have received it).



to possess the gate of the sky
or an empty notebook and a distant star
choose a time to stop saying
“rule over us!”
end this “sorry to keep you waiting”


a solitary month;
cold water in a black fish year
knee poles on which she rests;
a cormorant gives a grand speech.


so! I carried my words
north of Osaka
lying to the clouds
losing my mind on a tea-shop bench
sneaking through Sasabe
with a chuhai theme
Ha! I achieved!


dresses have left
empty corners
“was,” the subject of
our Japanese sentence
turning useless, a letter
addressed to one’s
own shoes.


leaping from one
non-existence to the next
in the o-choko cup, there it is!
the entrance to words!
amanuensis for saké


write “a lily”
and carry my language
be careful;
fish never mistake
for pork.


(she) it is done;
cut and gone
from mountains
calving hills
we couldn’t climb
… and all I am
… and I cry.


poetry; the
wet libretto of
the seaside tune
she sees gulls
and yet writes goat


crawling out of unknown quartets
denying the jazz post hoc
miscarrying tomorrow;
a (government) song
a divine-retribution-gong

©1999 ダニエル・シュネー

©2017 Daniel Schnee

19 thoughts on “The Analects of Naneun (Pt. 6)

  1. this has been an astounding series Daniel. fish not mistaking pork, 참외, honest rice, place, time, thought, insight, beauty, humour. it’s all here in these taut explosions. “a wet libretto” is a delicious image, i literally want to eat it or be reincarnate as one. MORE! MORE! MORE! 또! 또! 뚀! 주세요!!!

    1. I have no idea what to say. I am caught up with so much stuff that it will be awhile before I have the time to properly translate the next 60 analects, but I will be on it asap, rest assured. Once again I am deeply grateful for your enthusiasm… thank you VERY much!

            1. I get it now. You think that these are written by me in some kind of third person autobiographical voice? I am not that creative. These are actually parts of a zuihitsu condensed into poem form from larger chunks of writing: distillations of small essays, grocery and ‘to do’ lists, random sentences and so on.

              If I have created the illusion of a grand conceptual construction I should have just shut up and let you imagine I am much smarter than I actually am! Dammit! I could have passed for someone who knows what they are doing! LOL!

            2. Please please continue to think I am that clever… and just ignore the fact that I choose the analects to be “naneun” which sounds/like a proper name to people who don’t speak Korean, but is actually a thinly disguised admission that these are indeed the analects of me! Sorry to dissipate the illusion! 🙂

            3. i am quite a fan of knowing people’s intentions. Roethke was a very transparent poet, he wrote a book of prose called ‘On the Poet & his Craft’ in which among many technical admissions he tells of one fellow friend who calls him the best steak chef he’s ever met, in the humblest way.

            4. It is great that you mention this. The really vital sh*t comes from Xs turned Ys. Joni Mitchell is a painter who innovated the guitar and folk music by inventing her own way to make music; inadvertently creating brilliant music with painterly sensibilities. Robert (Okaji) was/is an accountant and administrator and bookstore owner who eventually turned to craft and brings real lived experience and deep power into his work. This is why people who take endless poetry classes never write anything vital, while a waitress somewhere is privately crafting the next great thing that will change the world of words. Sweat makes for great thoughts!

              Mark my words, IMPORTANT sh*t is coming out your residence right now while a zillion sheep are getting out their iambic pentameters to do the “right” thing.

            5. ahh Joni, just beautiful music.
              i have spoken with Tim Miller at wordandsilence (who i have a long going correspondence with) about my respect & desire to be a working poet. i have always admired them: Wallace Stevens, W.C.W, Blake, Roethke (though a professor, i put in this list due to his sensitivity while writing: stating he would collapse to the floor weeping when he finished a poem, sometimes).
              i admittedly would go & study again & would enjoy poetry being something i could teach at a high level, but i am glad i learned to write free of interference.

            6. Kurt Vonnegut wrote Cat’s Cradle after failing/being kicked out of the most prestigious anthropology program in North America (University of Chicago), using his anthropological expertise to write a flawless fictional ethnography. People in one field usually make the most observant creators in another. Hell, I have a PhD in ethnomusicology and yet my graphic scores have been exhibited as art al over around the world! If I can do that, then forget lit classes, keep doing what you are doing. Don’t spoil it all by becoming an “expert” at something you are actually a genius at!!

            7. well i will in the future go to university in Korea to study Korean hopeful pursue further in Korean poetry. but i am a good few years away from that yet due to the guesthouse. i won’t study in England or the West. i think translation is a better option & i hope it might let me travel.

            8. Studying Korean and immersing yourself in such a language is the PERFECT way to open your mind to creative possibilities while being grounded in Reality. All the great creatives are inwardly epistemophilic.

              There is much creative truth in your guesthouse!

            9. It has been a pleasure. And don’t forget… I AM the clever, tacitly third person-ating, covertly autobiographical person of letters you originally imagined me to be in the Analects, and NOT a young-ish saxophonist living in Japan 20 odd years ago who drank a LOTTTTTT of Japanese whiskey and scribbled the resultant nonsense in Japanese into a notebook which I am now translating in my mid forties. Nope! 🙂

  2. Thank you for sharing these translations of your work. In honor of #56, I send this poem of WB Yeats:

    My fiftieth year had come and gone,
    I sat, a solitary man,
    In a crowded London shop,
    An open book and empty cup
    On the marble table-top.
    While on the shop and street I gazed
    My body of a sudden blazed;
    And twenty minutes more or less
    It seemed, so great my happiness,
    That I was blessed and could bless.

    Is there a Japanese aesthetic or philosophy of nonsense?

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