Posted by: W. E. Poplaski | July 24, 2008

POEM OF THE DAY: Labor Pains

by Yosano Akiko (1878 – 1942).


Labor Pains


I am sick today,

sick in my body,

eyes wide open, silent,

I lie on the bed of childbirth.


Why do I, so used to the nearness of death,                         5

to pain and blood and screaming,

now uncontrollably tremble with dread?


A nice young doctor tried to comfort me,

and talked about the joy of giving birth.

Since I know better than he about this matter,                 10

what good purpose can his prattle serve?


Knowledge is not reality.

Experience belongs to the past.

Let those who lack immediacy be silent.

Let observers be content to observe.                                   15


I am all alone,

totally, utterly, entirely on my own,

gnawing my lips, holding my body rigid,

waiting on inexorable fate.


There is only one truth.                                                             20

I shall give birth to a child,

truth driving outward from my inwardness.

Neither good nor bad; real, no sham about it.


With the first labor pains,

suddenly the sun goes pale.                                                     25

The indifferent world goes strangely calm.

I am alone.

It is alone I am.




  1. oooo you made my womb shudder when I read that poem and ive never given birth to a child yet…surely there must be an easier way..
    great poem by the way
    i felt every word

  2. Yes, it is a great poem! It is a very different subject than most of her other poems.

    I have read that Akiko had a dozen children so she knew the experience well—though in her poem she states that experience means nothing; it is the immediacy of the event that captures one’s attention.

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