The Analects of Naneun (Pt. 1)


The Analects of Naneun

Here for the first time is the English translation of the first few pages of my work The Analects of Naneun (ナヌンの論説: “nanun no ronsetsu”), a free-form mixture of haibun and poetry (zuihitsu) I self-published in Japan nearly 20 years ago. Each poem-form in the original work was postfaced by commentary in the form of a Zen koan, but for now I am posting the initial form of each analect. It all will be posted in six parts, so I hope you come back to read each posting, o-negaishimasu!

Original 1999 Japanese Preface

This work is the quest to think and feel through the artfully polite evasion of directness, the supreme beauty of Japanese “not-saying-as-such”, infused with kotodama (言霊: word-soul) that moves noiselessly through Japanese language. Thus, I have sought to understand the kotodama and psychological rhythm of Yukio Mishima, Kōbō Abe, Dōgen, the Man’yōshū, Sei Shonagon, Kenko’s “Tsurezuregusa”, Junichirou Tanizaki and so on. Each analect is to be meditated upon for many hours and days, rather than read momentarily like poems. Thus I encourage you to meditate upon each analect, 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…


hakushi: blank paper
empty pen
nothing in mind
two cows…
just kind of
looking at each other.

the five fish
taking refuge in
the sunrise
who is to blame?

rainfall;Osaka crosswalk
taxis threaten; sideswipe my groceries
what impetuous fellows!

“describe in writing,
Mikado pink…”
no thanks.

twinkle twinkle
little star
I… uh…
(something about snow
and the Buddha?)

river runs through cathedral
canary grass on the pews
catfish glide/rotting hymnals
uh oh!
“ideas have no parents…”

look, the syrian hibiscus
ornette coleman’s music
omoroi! omoroi!
no need to even
know what that means.

Yi Okbong: startled the wind
jade saliva, rock milk
dragon string?
a bone in the rice of
of her enemies

three Vietnamese girls
little Bat Trang pots
stuffed with giggles
Ha Noi (3:24 pm)

I went to Hai Phong
between the airport
and the temple
all other distances
are fiction.

about 10 blocks
from Namba Station
depending on whose
heart you break.

Seoul: searching
The Mapo-gu traffic
offers no proof
I’ll be here before!

©1998 ダニエル・シュネー
©2017 Daniel Schnee