At Night

We present this work in honor of the 75th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Yone Noguchi
Japanese
1875 – 1947

 

At night the Universe grows lean, sober-
faced, of intoxication,
The shadow of the half-sphere curtains
down closely against my world, like a
doorless cage, and the stillness chained by
wrinkled darkness strains throughout the Uni-
verse to be free.
Listen, frogs in the pond, (the world is a pond itself)
cry out for the light, for the truth!
The curtains rattle ghostlily along, bloodily biting
my soul, the winds knocking on my cabin door
with their shadowy hands.

On the Removal of Prince Ōtsu’s Remains to the Futagami Mountains

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

01-29 Oku
Princess Ōku
Japanese
661 – 702

From tomorrow ever
Shall I regard as brother
The twin-peaked mountain of Futagami-
I, daughter of man!
I would break off the branch
Of the flowering staggerbush
Growing on the rocky shore;
But no one says he lives
To whom I would show it!

River

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 90th birthday.

12-15 Tanikawa
Shuntaro Tanikawa
Japanese
b. 1931

 

Mother,
Why is the river laughing?
Why, because the sun is tickling the river

Mother,
Why is the river singing?
Because the skylark praised the river’s voice

Mother,
Why is the river cold?
It remembers being once loved by the snow.

Mother,
How old is the river?
It’s the same age as the forever young
springtime.

Mother,
Why does the river never rest?
Well, you see it’s because the mother sea
Is waiting for the river to come home.

 

Translation by Harold Wright