I’ve Seen Fuji

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

06-28 Hayashi
Fumiko Hayashi
Japanese
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
Birds!
Fly across that mountain from dome to peak
with your crimson mouths, give a scornful laugh
Wind!
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.

The Street Fair

Sagawa Chika
Japanese
1911 – 1936

 

A cloud has collapsed on the pavement
Like the horse’s white struggle for air

Night, screaming and shouting into the darkness
Arrives with the intention of murdering time

Wearing a mask plated with light beams
Lining up single-file from the window

People moan in their dreams
And fall from sleep to an even deeper sleep

There, a stem that has gone pale
Like an exhausted despair

Supports the tall sky
An empty city with neither roads nor stars

My thinking is to escape
That pitch-black metal house

Steal away the glimmer of pistons
And smoldering embers of noise

Retreat into a shallow ocean
Collide, get battered to the ground

Lines Composed while Feasting Censor He on a Day in Autumn

Xue Susu
Chinese
c. 1564 – c. 1650

 

Inside the city walls of stone in the pleasure quarter
I feel deeply mortified that my talents outshine all the others
The river glitters, the waters clear, and the seagulls swim in pairs
The sky looks hollow, the clouds serene, and the wild geese fly in rows
My embroidered dress partly borrows the hue of hibiscus
The emerald wine shares the scent of lotus
If I did not reciprocate your feelings
Would I dare to feast with you, Master He?

The Soundless Girl

We present this work in honor of the 10th anniversary of the poet’s death.

Eriko Kishida
Japanese
1929 – 2011

 

There was a clever boy. When he’d leave off whistling, he would examine the far distance with a pair of binoculars. When he grew tired of the binoculars, he would play with a tape-recorder. Or at times he would examine a girl with his binoculars and record the sounds she made on the tape-recorder, as he whistled the tune “I Love Your Eyes.” Her mind was more tender than he’d expected, and seemed to ripple. Her lips were unopened buds, so nothing ask! And her ears—ah, there was no sound. The clever boy took notes.

One day there was a strange girl there. Let me explain in what way she was strange. Her footsteps were the road’s footsteps, the sound of her running was the sound of the wind running. So when the girl ate an apricot, there was the sound of the apricot eating her. When the girl swam, the sea came for a swim. The boy wondered, then, which was real? Which sound he should tape-record? What if the girl should like me? The boy was suddenly afraid. The boy by then already liked the girl. I think you know what comes next. The boy stopped taking notes. He put his ear to the girl’s ear. And—ah, there was a sound. This ear—ah, it’s my sound! the boy said.