There Is No Resting

We present this work in honor of the 675th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Sesson Yūbai
1290 – 1348


Who travels the Way heeds the Heart’s and the Way’s beginnings,
But the Way’s everywhere, without boundaries —
I’ll go till the rivers run dry, exhaust the peaks:
In the calm of the clouds I’ll sit, and watch the moon light up the heavens.

After the death of the Emperor Tenmu

We present this work in honor of the 1,320th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Empress Jitō
645 – 703


Oh, the autumn foliage
Of the hill of Kamioka!
My good Lord and Sovereign
Would see it in the evening
And ask of it in the morning.
On that very hill from afar
I gaze, wondering
If he sees it today,
Or asks of it tomorrow.
Sadness I feel at eve,
And heart-rending grief at morn –
The sleeves of my coarse-cloth robe
Are never for a moment dry.

Morning Necktie

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 60th birthday.

Machi Tawara
b. 1962


Set off to see for myself
my father’s name
carved in a Tohoku museum

Once the “world’s strongest,”
my father’s magnet
crouches on a shelf

Monday morning
the head of the Magnetic Research Institute
picks out his necktie

My father, perfectly at home
with rare earth elements,
loves Modigliani women

“Writing more love poems?”
half humorously
half anxiously

His present—
Sanuki noodles—
comes stuffed in a company envelope

Something warm in the way
he calls his wife “Mother”
without the least hesitation

He wipes his face with a hot towel
and sighs contentedly—
looking at him now I see an ordinary man

Moving away from the telephone
he sips his tea as if to say
“I’m not listening”

their inability to express tenderness—
men of my father’s generation

Translation by Juliet Winters Carpenter

Myself in the Manner of a Troubador

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 85th birthday.

Mutsuo Takahashi
b. 1937


Mounting a horse with an abundant mane and in glittery armor, a hero
will have to have a face as dazzling as that orb of day.
But a base one ordered to sing of heroes,
I cannot have a face, however ordinary.

Like a photo of the hateful man an abandoned woman tore into shreds,
My face is torn apart and lost in advance.
Faceless, holding in both hands a lyre quite like a face,
on a hill with a view of the field shining with battle dust, under a plane tree,

or on a boulder of a cape overlooking the sea where triremes come and go,
I sit for thousands of years, I just continue to sit.
The odes that, faceless, I sing in praise of passing heroes
overflow as beautiful blood from the chest would I hade with the lyre.

Translation by Hiroaki Sato


We present this work in honor of the Japanese holiday, Labor Thanksgiving Day.

Ryuichi Tamura
1923 – 1998


Hoya is now
in the middle of autumn. I am now
in the middle of misery
The misery has deep origins
It has a deep-rooted history.

Blazing summer has finally ended
Autumn breezes pass from one end to the other of the Musashino plain
My small house sits on a spot
in dark Musashino, silent Musashino

In my small house
I have a small room of my own
In the small room I turn on a light
I labor, zeroing in on my misery,
until the deep-rooted misery in my heart
thrusts its roots into the earth, and
grows into that gigantic Zelkova tree
in my forsaken backyard

Translation by Takako Lento