Japanese Death Poems

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The universal experience of death gave way to a new art form in Japan. The now centuries-old tradition is called jisei, or the "death poem." These poems are usually written in the very last moments of the speaker's life. Many of the hundreds of poems in this collection appear in English for the very first time. Read the poem as well as the circumstances leading up to each poet's death. 

The compiler of the poems also touches upon the attitudes and customs of death in early and present-day Japan.