I’ve Seen Fuji

We present this work in honor of the 70th anniversary of the poet’s death.

06-28 Hayashi
Fumiko Hayashi
1903 – 1951


I’ve seen Fuji
I’ve seen Mount Fuji
there was no red snow
so I need not praise Fuji as a fine mountain.

I’m not going to lose out to such a mountain
many times I’ve thought that,
seeing its reflection in the train window,
the heart of this peaked mountain
threatens my broken life
and looks down coldly on my eyes.

I’ve seen Fuji,
I’ve seen Mount Fuji
Fly across that mountain from dome to peak
with your crimson mouths, give a scornful laugh
Fuji is a great sorrowful palace of snow,
blow and rage
Mount Fuji is the symbol of Japan
it’s a sphinx
a thick, dream-like nostalgia
a great, sorrowful palace of snow where demons live.

Look at Fuji,
Look at Mount Fuji
in your form painted by Hokusai
I have seen your youthful spark.

But now you’re an old broken-down grave mound
always you turn your glaring eyes to the sky
why do you flee from the murky snow?

Birds, wind
rap on Mount Fuji’s shoulder
so bright and still
it’s not a silver citadel
it’s a great, sorrowful palace of snow that hides misfortune.

Mount Fuji!
Here stands a lone woman who does not lower her head to you
here is a woman laughing scornfully at you.

Mount Fuji, Fuji
your passion like rustling fire
howls and roars
until you knock her stubborn head down
I shall wait, happily whistling.


Translation by Janice Brown

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