Poems of the Week

The Sword and the Mirror

by Eddie Aderne

“[I]n late 2022, a giant iron sword and a bronze mirror were unearthed from [the Tomio Maruyama burial mound
in the city of Nara] which date back to the late fourth century. … The discovery has raised questions among
archeologists. The sword, at more than 2 meters, is too long to be used as a weapon, so why was it made? And why
is the mirror shaped [uniquely] like a shield? Perhaps most importantly, who are the two people interred at the site?
The Japan Times

Can bodily pride be shielded and stored
In a mirror of old Japan?
Can courage be put in an iron sword
Exceeding the length of a man?

Who lay so long in the burial mound
Where the sword and the mirror lie?
Two mighty ministers, far renowned?
A lord and his samurai?

Or was it a single man, in state,
With a sword no other could wield,
And a single woman, his match, his mate,
With a mirror the shape of a shield?