utatane ni kohishiki hito wo miteshi yori yume tefu monoha / tanomi someteki.
Originally by 小野 小町Ono Komachi, poet of the early Heian period, included in the kokinwakashū
Translation: When napping/ I saw the image of my lover in a dream/ I took it as a sign he too cherished me/ and I began to long for him/ yet fell into sorrow that we could only reunite in a dream
The poem begins with a small letter うwith thick ink. (The top of the line to the far right)
The forth letter 年 is composed of thick ink on its upper right side, but also creates a small open white space on its left side (See the boldest letter in the upper-middle section of first line to the right).
The second line and first half of the third line, with the lack of ink, or kasure, creates the subtle image of a waterfall. The second half of the third line is drawn with thicker black ink, and looks like a stone at the base of the waterfall, and has the role of bringing completion and unity to the work as a whole.
I have worked together with my son, Tomohiro Baba to create a modern song version of this ancient poem. We created our own melody while singing the translated English lyrics. We requested the assistance of a graduate of the Tokyo University of the Arts (Ms. Emi Kimura) to compose the song, and got the assistance of a translator (John), so anyone around the world will be able to view it on YouTube. It’s in this way that calligraphy has a special brilliance to it – even though this poem is over one thousand years old, its sentiments still have power today, and through calligraphy we can connect with that ancient chapter in our past. What’s more is that ancient Japanese poems such as these (called Waka) are rarely translated into song form – one of the only notable exceptions being the national anthem of Japan. Below are the English lyrics we have created.
My heart soars to see you in a dream
But I lament that it is nothing more
Your absence leaves me hollow
A vision in the night reminds me
How in such woe your departure left me