I wish the autumn flowers would resemble the author's name
January 12, 2012 11:27 AM   Subscribe

Obscure Poetry Filter: Help me solve a mystery I've been considering for the last eight years. I need help to identify this poem that I got out of a random library book in college. It's definitely a Japanese or Chinese male author, and I'm pretty sure it came from the 1960's (the book was an anthology of Japanese and Chinese poetry from the 50's-70's, though the memory of the exact decades are a bit sketchy).

I've googled it several times over the last few years, but haven't found much. I do think it's a translation, which could make it more difficult to find, given the complexity and discrepancies of translation between languages.

Here's the whole poem:

Not knowing love,
I sought beauty in God
Now I see the beauty of heaven
And the beauty of earth
In you

When beholding the rainbow
I think back on the things I have lost
And the things I couldn't get

Go then, if you will
Your youth will be spent alone
In a cold dark place
And you'll remember with sadness
The sunshine of spring

Upon our parting
I had not walked thirty steps
Down the meadow path
When the autumn flowers
Began to resemble your face
Which I will never see again

If it matters, I found it in a book in the library at Seattle Pacific University. I no longer live in Seattle, and I haven't had much luck searching the SPU online catalog to see if one of the entries seems right.

One day, I was re-shelving this book, it fell open to this poem, and I jotted it down quickly without noting the book or the author or even the title. Dumb.

So Hive Mind, can you help?
posted by guster4lovers to Media & Arts (6 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Could he be Korean? My first thought went to Kim So-wol, though a search didn't turn up much of anything. Might be a good start, though?
posted by sephira at 1:56 PM on January 12, 2012

It could be Korean. That name sounds familiar but that could be confirmation bias. I'll try that.

I hope this doesn't stump Metafilter!
posted by guster4lovers at 2:03 PM on January 12, 2012

When were you working there? Might help to eliminate all the books that were published after that time...
posted by purple_bird at 3:32 PM on January 12, 2012

It would have been 2001-2002.
posted by guster4lovers at 4:34 PM on January 12, 2012

Have you considered calling the SPU library and chatting about this with a librarian? Might be an intriguing enough puzzle that someone on-site would do a little legwork for you. And, hey, if you're an alum, probably not the weirdest request they've ever gotten...

Lovely poem, btw. Let us know when you find your answer!
posted by Sublimity at 9:18 AM on January 13, 2012

This link is an example of a SPU catalog search limited to their library only that searches for poetry translated from Korean into English. Substitute "Chinese" or "Japanese" in that query to cover all your bases. Maybe some of these search results will jog your memory. You could also plug any promising titles into an Amazon or similar search in hopes of seeing the book's cover (or some cover version anyway).

Or here is SPU's "Ask a librarian" page.
posted by purple_bird at 2:12 PM on January 13, 2012

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