Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII. 1876–79.

Japan: Niphon (Nippon), the Island


By From the Japanese

  • Anonymous translation
  • “After the separation of chaos into earth and heaven (an idea borrowed from China, and interwoven in the legend with the purely Japanese story) the god Izanagi and the goddess Izanami, descendants of the original primeval god, stood on the Bridge of Heaven, and with a staff made of coral stirred up the ocean lying far beneath. The drops of brine as they fell from the staff on its withdrawal congealed and became land, and thus was created the main island of Nippon, the other islands of the Japanese Empire being after-creations, concerning which various legends are extant.”—Westminster Review, XXXVIII. 328.

  • HEAVEN above from earth below

    Long ago the God hath parted.

    Now aloft in the sky hath set

    His divine abode, and now

    In the realm of endless joy

    Inly pondering muses he,

    Walking in the world of dreams,

    Viewing through the evening shades

    Our Nippon’s pleasant shores,

    Leading in his dreamy vision

    His divine twain offspring towards

    Yon the hoariest of shrines,

    And within the rock-hewn portal

    Of their vast abode that ne’er

    Hath the utter darkness known

    Of primeval chaos deigning

    Godlike symbols there to leave.