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Japanese Poetry


Kotaro Takamura

A Man Sharpening a Knife

In silence a knife is being sharpened.
Though the sun is already sinking, it is still being sharpened.
The back and the front tightly placed,
the whetting water changed, it is being sharpened again.
What on earth is intended to be made?
As though without knowing even that,
concentrating the mood of the moment in his brow,
behind green leaves, the man sharpens the knife.
Bit by bit this man's sleeve tears.
The mustache of this man becomes white.
Resentment? Necessity? A vacant mind?
This man is simply endless.
Is he pursuing the nth degree?

Mars Is Out

Mars is out.

After all, what should be done? The query
brings back to a beginning a way of thought it was hard for me to follow.
After all, doesn't it matter?
No, no, infinitely no.

It is best to wait, and with the first strength
it is best to destroy your weakness that is quick with such a question.

To think of a predicted result is not decent.
To live with the right source,
only that is pure.

In order to stir up your being further,
once again raise up your head high.
Shining right over this dark Komagome Hill that is asleep
and silent,
it is good to see that really red star.

Mars is out.

A cold blast makes a rattle-rattle sound in the honey locust pods.

A rutting dog dashes around madly.
If I step on fallen leaves
and pass the bushes,
a cliff.

Mars is out.

I do not know
I what a human being must do.
I do not know
what a human being should try to get.
I think
that a human being can become part of nature.
I am feeling
 that a human being is great because he is equal to
Oh I am shaken,
how hopeful to be equal to nothingness !
Even nothingness is destroyed
by natural spreading.

Mars is out.

The sky turns around behind it.
Innumerable far worlds are coming up.
Unlike poets of old days, I do not
see a twinkling of angels in it anymore.
I just listen
to what is like profound waves of ether.
And simply
the world is wonderful.

Its weird grace filled with things unknown
presses toward me tightly, tightly.

Mars is out.

Plum Wine

The bottle of plum wine made and left by dead Chieko,
dully stagnant with ten years' weight, holds the light,
and in the amber of a wine cup congeals like a jewel-ball.
When alone late at night in the cold time of early spring
please have this, she said.
I think of the one who left this after dying.
Being threatened with the anxiety of a broken mind,
with the distressing idea of ruin before long,
Chieko took care of things around her.
Seven years of madness finished with death.
The fragrant sweetness of this plum wine found in the kitchen
quietly, quietly, I appreciate.
Even the roar of the world of frenzied angry waves
can hardly violate this moment.
When one wretched life is looked straight at
the world just distantly surrounds it.
Now the night wind has stopped.

Another Rotating Thing

Half wet with spring rain, the morning newspaper,
a little heavy in my hands,
is cutting into shreds the letters and characters of this life.
Iron and gunpowder of the world and the titans behind them
are turning once again in a direction which is dificult to stop.
With a little oil smudge, printing type tells it.

The revolving of the solid earth cannot be ended.
I flick off cherry blossom petals that were brought in stuck to the newspaper.
Inside myself another solid earth rotates.

The Itinerary

In front of me no road
behind me a road is made
ah the natural
a father
an immense father that caused me to stand by myself
do protect me and do not take your eyes from me
continually fill me with a vigor of the father
for the sake of this far journey
for the sake of this far journey.

Winter Has Come

Definitely winter has come.

The evergreen shrub's white flowers have disappeared.
The ginko trees have turned into brooms.

Like a sharp sharp piercing, winter has come.
Everyone dislikes winter.

Deserted by grasses and trees, run away from by insects, winter has come.

come to me, come to me.
I have winter's strength, winter is my victim.

Permeate through, penetrate into!
Make fires break out! Bury with snow I
Like a sharp knife, winter has come.

Difficult Chieko

Chieko sees what cannot be seen,
hears what cannot be heard.

Chieko goes to places one cannot go,
does what cannot be done.

Chieko does not see the me that really exists,
yearns for me in back of me.

Chieko throws away the heaviness of suffering now,
wanders out to a vast infinite sphere of esthetic consciousness.

Though hearing her voice calling me over and over,
Chieko does not have a ticket for the human world anymore.

Sakutaro Hagiwara

The Swimmer

The swimmer's body stretches out slanting,
two arms reach out together lengthily,
the swimmer's heart is transparent like a jellyfish,
the swimmer's eyes are hearing the sound of suspended bells,
the swimmer's spirit watches the moon over the water

Death of a Frog

A frog was killed.

A circle of children raised their hands.
All together
bloody hands they raised.
The moon rose.
On the hill a man is standing.
Under the hat is his face.

You frogs!
Inside the tangle of blue pampas grass and reeds
frogs seem to be bulging out whitely.
In the evening scene filled with rainfall
the gyo, gyo, gyo, gyo of crying frogs.

Striking and beating on the utterly dark ground,
this is a night violent with rain and wind.
On the chilled grasses and leaves too
frogs draw in a soft breath,
the gyo, gyo, gyo, gyo of crying frogs.

You frogs!
My being is not far away from you.
With a lamp in my hand I
was watching the surface of the dark garden,
was watching with fatigued mind leaves of grasses and trees sagging in rain.

Wanting To Be Walking Among Crowds

I always want the city,
want to be inside the lively crowds of the city.
Crowds are things like huge waves with emotions.
They are groups of vigorous wills and desires pouring into every place.

Oh in the plaintive twilight of spring,
to want the shade between building and building in the complicated city,
to go along tossed about inside the huge crowds, how joyful it is.

Look, this sight of crowds that go flowing by.
One wave overlapping upon another wave,
the waves making innumerable shadows, and the shadows move on swaying.
The distress and sorrows of each one of the people all
disappear there among the shadows, leaving no trace.
Oh with how tranquil a mind I go walking along this street.

Oh this joyful shadow of the great love and innocence.
The sensation of being carried along beyond the joyful
waves becomes almost like weeping.
In the desolate twilight of a day of spring,
these groups of lovers swimming under the eaves from building to building,
where and in what way do they go flowing along I wonder?
My sorrowful gloominess is covered up in the one big

shadow on the earth, flowing waves of the drifting  innocence.
Oh I want to go on being tossed by these waves of crowds
no matter where, no matter where.
Waves far ahead on the horizon look indistinct.
Toward one, only one direction, let me flow along.

Buddha (The World's Mystery)

In hilly country where red soil is abundant,
inside a deserted cavern there is one man sleeping.
You are not shell, not bone either, not material either,
and in sandy places of dried-up beach weeds
not like an old watch corroded with rust either.
Ah, are you the shadow of "truth," or a ghost,
endlessly, endlessly, sitting in that place?
Mummified one! Living like a miraculous fish I
At the end of this unendurably desolate wild land
the sea roars to the sky,
the booming of huge tidal waves is heard coming in from  far off.

Do you hear it with your ears,
eternal man, Buddha?

Saisei Muro

After a Music Concert

The minds of people were rather fatigued with profundity,
making pleasant rippling waves
as though saturated.
People were speaking in low voices about subtle word that music gives.
After a stairway to a lawn,
stepping on the sprouting blades of the lawn,
already walking toward a park with street lights,
a person with a beautiful younger sister,
a person with a happy woman friend,
a person with a wife,
they all in a similar way of fatigue
were walking with a strangely vivid and lively excitement.

And I too, following along after that crowd,
aware of my own solitary footsteps,
was walking toward the park near springtime.

Trout with moles on their backs
arc clearly swimming along the river shore in sunlight.
In several rows
their gentle bodies are shining.
On the white sand their shadows
like shadow pictures
are becoming bigger, becoming smaller,
and at times become dim.
Even the shadows of the water making beads
go falling to the sandy bottom.
When astonished by just a slight noise
the trout scatter like flowers
and gather again.

One trout, handsome, and larger than the others in the  group,
perhaps leading the group sometimes,
comes out a little upstream in the current,
or proudly swims up high to the surface
and turns over flipping.
Completely silent ripples are made.
After that there is only the smell of young leaves on the river bank.

A Camel

In thin shade
a camel that is fastened,
like an aged man,
mumbling and mumbling, is eating things all day long.
His tent is like a sky with snow,
hanging grey and dismal.
Without speaking the camel
keeps moving his mouth all day.

A Baby-Tending Song

When snow is falling a baby-tending song is heard.
It has been occurring for a long time.
From the window, from the door,
from the sky,
a baby-tending song is heard.

But I have never had the experience of hearing a baby-
tending song.
For me who did not know a person called mother in  childhood
the memory of such a song could not be imagined to exist.

But strangely
on a day when snow is falling it is heard,
a song I have not experienced hearing anywhere is heard.

City River

Rain is falling down quietly.
On the river it is hushed,
making a delicate sound.
Occasionally a streetcar passes reflecting shadows on the
dull leaden surface.
Several groups of barges are tied up.

Though boats touched by the rain
seem to move
they are fastened.

From the eaves of a roof a streak of smoke rises up.
From a window a child eagerly watches a streetcar on the
bridge for as long as it is there.

Figures of people on the street all reflect upon the
water and
quietly they disappear.
The smoke still rises up.

A woman who looks like the mother of the child
washes a green bunch of leeks.

In the hushed rainfall everything has turned into a fantasy  of the bridge.

Inside a Deep Isolation

When a musician steps down off the stage,
when he steps down, sent off with the clapping of a fine crowd of people,
what an intense and deserted isolation he must feel.
In spite of that thunder of admiration
how deeply a fine musician, outside the bounds of the crowd of people,
must love with a passion the height of isolation that is his.

An Unfinished Poem

Red red glow of evening,
under it tightly crowded streets and houses.
Looking at them I become fatigued.
What comes from there in a reflection?
What comes from there to pervade my being
is voices and voices of peddlers at twilight time,
mixed with the smell of the lonely rainfall of late autumn,
voices and voices of various lives.
Leaning against a window I am listening to it.

Kihachi Ozaki

A Word

I have to select a word for material.
It should be talked about in the smallest possible amount and
have a deep suggestiveness like nature,
bloom from inside its own self,
and at the edge of the fate encircling me
it will have to become darkly and sweetly ripened.

Of a hundred experiences it always
has to be the sum total of only one.
One drop of water dew
becomes the harvest of all dewdrops,
a dark evening's one red point of light
is the night of the whole world.

And after that my poem
like a substance entirely fresh,
released far away from my memory,
the same as a scythe in a field in the morning,
the same as the ice on a lake in spring,
will suddenly begin to sing from its own recollection.

Winter Field

Now, over the field,
evening hangs suspended like a gigantic harp.

Frost binds the ridges solemnly severed furrow from furrow;
the long harp-sound of the wind runs by,
one first white star
strikes the highest note.

Winter fades widely, widely like an ancient;
though spring is yet far away
presentiments already hover between heaven and earth.

I step on this late earth that is growing dark
and throw seeds from my hand
overflowing like the evening sun
and heavy because of faith in seeds.

They sink
like stuff that serves deeply,
to transform the nights under the ground
and enlighten gradually the far daybreak.

A pure and clear condensation is felt.
Now, within the greyish silence around,
my being is a reverent anthem.

And already hearing
(the harvest field like a festival,
burning noon kingfisher colored)
June like the sea.

Frequently I am impelled to stand still,
as though to authenticate the distance to an object.
That distance is being replenished,
behold, by thick whirlwinds and billions of air particles.

Yesterday I watched smoke of field fires ascend from several
places of this plateau,
 today listen to faint birds in a forest of fallen leaves.
For ten days I have not heard news of the city,
undulations of fields and mountains where clouds gather and
narrow pathways run through blue-green withered grasses and
occasional trains descend a ravine shouldering cliffs
and. . .

Yes, existing clear and separate from each other,
being strong indeed in their final essence and fate,
aspects of objects always express their own most proper splendors.

In this way, being entirely alone,
to all phenomena of the world
I give praise for original corresponding splendors.

Mitsuharu Kaneko

Song of a Jelly fish

Swaying, swaying,
tossing, tossing,
eventually I
could be seen through like this.

But to be swayed is not a comfortable thing, you know.

From the outside I can be seen through. Look !
Inside my digestive organs
is a toothbrush with worn-out bristles
and also a small amount of yellowish water.

That dirty-looking thing called my soul
does not exist anymore now.
Together with the tubes of my belly
it was snatched away by the waves.

Me? What I am
is a thing of emptiness, you know,
emptiness swayed by the waves
and again swayed back and forth by the waves.

Shriveling up and then soon afterward
opening wisteria-purple,
night after night
burning a lamp.

No, that which is being swayed about actually
is only the soul which has lost the body
that is the soul's wrapping
of thin rice paper.

No, no, so much emptiness came from
swaying, swaying,
tossing, tossing pain's
fatigued shadow which is all that it is !


Deep in a forest where it rains
cuckoos cry.

Beyond pale darkness
their echoes respond.

Elegant-looking tips of the trees
are hearing the silent fog that is coming down,
that fog turning into drops of water on twigs
and softly dripping down.

On the path that continues into the fog
I stop walking and listen
to voices of lonely cuckoos.

Droplets of water make a separating curtain,
and from an eternal end is heard
that monotonous repetition.

I look back at the lengthy time
of my short life,
estrangements of affection and
a period of many betrayals.

Beloved persons who have departed too,
scattered-away friends too,
all of them have gone inside this fog
and perhaps exist somewhere in the end of the fog.

Now already there is no way to search.
From end to end
the enveloping fog thickens and thickens.
All the loneliness for what cannot be regained
is swept along very quickly.

Here and there in the ocean of fog
like spirit and spirit that call to each other
cuckoos are crying,
cuckoos are crying.

To a Certain Unmarried Woman

A woman became naked. But
not to wait for caresses.

In transient daylight
the faint scent of skin.
Fine wrinkles
of the thin flowerpetals
of a woman who has not known sensuality.

Like bruises that are ripe,
smears of light blue color,
those marks which remain all over her body
are traces of fingers of the people who touched her passing by.

The same as unsold fruit
at the shop-front of a fruit store.

A woman became naked. Just for a while
to change a summer dress into an autumn dress.

Recitative—A Lakeshore Poem

Shutting my eyes, secretly I have
come to escape
to the shores of this lake
where even fingertips are dyed an intense blue.

The lakeshore's landscape
is precipitous with crystals.
Among the frozen rockeries are stirring
young goats.

Mountain after mountain darkens, with
mottled snow,
mountain after mountain shines, like
rosy wine.

Without being pursued by the hurry of time,
as though just making smoke
the days have moved along
swaying like shadows of jewel-balls.

I came so I could walk upon the snowy path
where turtledoves cry in the forest of larch trees
and be away from the rough-hearted people
who both day and night give themselves to the war.

In the solitary way of one going blind,
at the side of the lake frozen all over with ice, day after day
I come to stand for a while
as though arrived there in a dream.

My spirit rising and rising rebelliously,
i my poetry afraid of being seen,
f close to purified death, the eternal hand,
I are to be buried in ice until next spring.

I have come to escape
from that spiritual poverty
i and from the unreasonable
I hunting-out.

Separating from feeble friends
who have forgotten to be critical,
leaving loved rooms
where I slept and arose for months and years.

Everything will turn into bones and ashes
because of the stupidity of human beings who forget human beings.

My moans of suffering come from this too.
The lights fade away. All around is an empty commotion.

Snowflakes fall from high branches of trees.
Withered bush-clover rustles.
Underneath the thick ice
dead water blows on a dosho

And then the glittering stars' animated
the enchased heavens'
unfeeling spectacle!

Mount Fuji

The same as stacked lunchboxes
this Japan, narrow and confined.

From this corner to that corner, meanly and stingily
all of us are being counted up.
And, unlimited rudeness,
all of us are drafted—stupid idiots.

Birth certificates, they ought to be burned right away.
Nobody should remember my son.

My son,
be concealed away inside this hand.
Hide away for a while underneath a hat.

Both your father and mother in the house at the foot of the mountain
have talked about it all night long.

Soaking the withered forest at the foot of the mountain,
making sounds like twigs breaking, crackle, crackle,
the whole night rain was falling.

My son, you are soaked wet to the skin
carrying a heavy gun, gasping for breath,
walking along as if fallen into a trance. What place is it?

That place is not known. But for you
both your father and mother go outside to search aimlessly.

The night hateful with only such dreams,
the long anxious nighttime, at last ends.

The rain has let up.
In the sky vacant without my son,
well, how damnably disgusting,
like a shabby worn-out bathrobe,

Shigeji Tsuboi

River of Ice

Watching scarce flowers
the day grows dark.

Around the flowers
air becomes more and more cold,
not even a moth appears now.

No letter from anywhere,
autumn nights
the sound of insects
flows like water.

What is the sound of insects crying through the night

seeking for?
Into me it comes flowing,
finally turns to a river of ice.

Night Skylark

Burning from the bottle of the earth,
all toward the sky.
As far as one can see,
continuously burning, the wheat field's big fire.

A night skylark
without a place to land
sings infinitely in the height of the sky.

You, the one that was judged last,
will fall down into the sea of fire.


O sunflower,
flame that is born from flame,
explosion into the sun . . .

Cable Cars

Deep at the bottom of a precipice
a swift stream intensely blue goes bubbling by,
in the unlimited sky beyond
a cable car moves along
burdened by a load that is heavy
and unseen by eyes.
Its thick cable
might be cut off at any unknown time.

Inside myself also
something continually keeps moving along.
it might be an express train.

The middle of the night . . .
though almost all noises have faded away,
in the ears' intensely dark tunnel
there is something hurrying through.


Unconsciously shouting,
my own voice awakens me,
the one eye of an intensely red signal
keeps staring at me.

From morning
until late at night
time is regulated by stop-go signals.

Larger than an infant's head,
a single egg
comes rolling down from somewhere
and crosses the street. . . .

Inside the intense darkness
now again
cable cars
are seen to be crossing.

For the sake of public construction work,
I thought, maybe, they were loaded
full of cement,
but with skeletons only
the cable cars were loaded,
one after another
endlessly moving away.


Faced toward the sky
an immense yawn was given, and then
from the inside of a mouth
a single balloon came popping out.
As it ascended up and up to the sky
gradually it expanded to a hugeness.
Its interior
is completely filled with poison gas
and we cannot tell when it will explode—
that kind of a rumor spread throughout the entire city.

Covering a small
city's sky,
the enormous balloon.
From the morning until the night it
dingle-dangled about like a ghost.

This city's population
completely tired of living,
in the sky
even the sun's existence had been forgotten. But
at the balloon's appearance, with fear and trembling
they look up at the sky all the time.

and what kind of accident will happen cannot be known s<
the entire city
developed more hubbub than a revolution.

Into every direction the police
dispatched detectives, but
the important criminal was not discovered any place at all.

—Please report if you see the man who gave the yawn I
—Also as many details as possible about the man's appearance!
Although such assistance was desired from the city's population,
a man who is yawning
is far too common and
which was the genuine criminal couldn't be learned.

In spite of their reputation
the police were worn out by it all.

And now still
above that small city's roofs
the balloon
dingle-dangles about the same as ever.
At the whim of the blowing wind,
to the west,
to the east . . .


Although it is the middle of March
this morning there is an unusual heavy snowfall.
With high boots
walking in the snow, crunch, crunch,
goodness how huge my own footprints!
Right in Tokyo I turned into a bear.
Aren't there any human beings!
Isn't there a creature called a human being?

Motionless Night

This night that is dark and cold does not move.
My eyes, and my beating heart,
and charming flowers, and smiles, do not exist.
Wind blows inside the being that is unable to sleep.
At midnight the table-clock stops.
I feel reluctant to wind its springs
in this hollow room
where I am alone and
without any miracle happening
the night continues to deepen.

Yoshiaki Sasazawa

Flowers of June

In the wet season,
under shadows of green leaves, wind heavily
pauses, bewildered and tired.
In such a season
in the hospital garden conversation gets wet
. . . "How are you feeling?" . . .
. . . "Well, not too fine." . . .
Only flowers, as though resisting this wetness,
are standing dry,
flowers of poppy, windflowers, and others.
After rain, in space between clouds, shining in blue sky,
hollyhocks stand near a hedge.
Deep red and golden, vigorous flowers of midsummer
preluding a season.
Wet wind is made to flow lightly
by flowers of June.

The Tower

It is not a hand that stretches up toward Paradise.
Neither is it a symbol of the spirit of civilization's science.
Is it an arrow sign for the sake of the future
of human beings escaping
from a large city whose civilization is beginning to decay
and decompose?
In order to pierce through and spoil the skin of space,
is it a boring?
From its sharp tip again today
the light flashes and leaps out.


The Fox

The fox realizes that
in this desolate sunbright field
there is only him alone.

That because of this he himself is a part of the field,
that he is the whole of it.
To turn into the wind too, to turn into the dried grasses too,
and even to turn into a streak of light too
inside the fox-colored desolate field,
almost like existing or not existing,
is being like a shadow, that too he realizes.
He realizes how to run almost like the wind too, to run
even quicker than light too.
Because of this he believes that his figure is invisible to anybody.

A thing that is invisible is running while thinking.
A thought alone is running.
Without anyone being aware of it the midday moon has
risen above the desolate field.

A Secret Code

I wonder what thing that is coming out in opposition to time.
A secret code from the future.
It is however not that of a human being,
and of course not either from anything like a god, whose
existence cannot be imagined.

Over there on the desert
underneath the non-objective sky which is drying up bit by bit,
clinging to the one single blade of grass that is left on earth,
it is the last butterfly sending up a signal.


A thing of a time long ago,
a fox was running along on the clay surface of a river bank.
After that
several tens of thousands of years passed by,
that clay surface became fossil, the footprints are still there.
If the footprints are seen, then what the fox was thinking
while running can be understood.


Lake Water

Inside the water of this lake a person has passed away
and because of it so many boats are out there.
Among reeds and water weeds—where has the body been hidden?
The fife-signal of finding it has not been sounded yet.
A wind is blowing—the sound of oars cutting through the water, the sound of paddles.
A wind is blowing—the smell of grass roots and crabs is here.
Oh who is it that could be sure?
Inside the water of this lake a person passed away at dawn?
Who is it that actually could be sure
although already the night has become this late?

A Boy

At evening
from the gate of a certain temple
a handsome little boy is coming back.
At the day which is about to darken
tossing a handball,
tossing a handball high up toward the sky,
still playing, he is coming back.
On the tranquil street
both people and trees make the air calm
and the sky is flowing along in the way of a dream.

Snow Bunting

At this division in the road where day darkens the sleigh  has started . . .
Behind the stopping place a snow bunting is crying and singing.
Over the snow where dusk gathers it is crying and singing.
On the twig of a leafless tree, ah it is burning, a single song, a single life.

Golden Venus

In a sealike evening sky
a golden honeybee makes wing sounds
like buzzing ears. . . .

On the other side of the valley
by the mountain opposite,
poised on top of the thin forest—Venus.

Presently that woman is hidden by a ridge.
I climb up onto a rock.
For a while she is visible.

Presently that woman is hidden by a ridge.
I get up onto a hilltop.
For a while she is visible.

That woman vanishes. That woman goes down.
That woman goes down. She goes away.
Earth is warped. . . . The mountain tilts. . . .

Great Aso

Horses are standing in rain.
A herd of horses with one or two foals is standing in rain.
In hushed silence rain is falling.
The horses are eating grass.
With tails, and backs too, and manes too, completely
soaking wet
they are eating grass,
eating grass.
Some of them are standing with necks bowed over absent-
mindedly and not eating grass.
Rain is falling and falling in hushed silence.
The mountain is sending up smoke.
The peak of Nakadake is sending up dimly yellowish and
heavily oppressive volcanic smoke, densely, densely.
And rain clouds too all over the sky.
Still they continue without ending.
Horses are eating grass.
On one of the hills of the Thousand-Mile-Shore-of-Grass
they are absorbedly eating blue-green grass.
They are all standing there quietly.
They are quietly gathered in one place forever, dripping
and soaked with rain.
If a hundred years go by in this single moment, there would
be no wonder.
Rain is falling. Rain is falling.
In hushed silence rain is falling.

Over the Paving Stones

 Oh sad, flower petals drift down,
onto the young girls flower petals drift down,
young girls quietly talking as they walk,
the sound of serene footsteps drifting into the sky,
occasionally raising their eyes
they pass by the springtime in a shadeless temple garden.
The tiled roof of the temple has turned green
and at each of its eaves
the wind bells are hanging silent while
being alone
I let my own shadow walk over the paving stones.

The Deer

In the morning in a forest a deer is crouching.
Upon his shoulders, the shadow of his horns.
A single deerfly cuts across the space of the breeze and hovers
close to his ears as they listen to a far-off river valley.



The harbor was
bright like midday with the wetness of the full moon.
Wind from the open sea
came along bearing strange faces.
Faces appear one after another, numerously.
Pale white faces that cannot seem alive.
Faces that forgot to get angry or to curse
appear and disappear,
disappear and appear.
sorrow that the passing faces endure, deep deep sorrow.
This sorrow cannot help infiltrate
into every corner
of this country.


From the stagnated river's
roots, bubbling bubbling, come rising to the surface

Those bubbles, each one, each one,
inside blurred spheres,
although they contain abundant discontent, dissatisfaction,
on the water surface
they are transient, disappear, and are gone.

At night
at the river bottom
lie dormant in the midst of muddy earth, but
when midday comes
dim rays of light shine into them and
carelessly, absently, they come rising up.
Deception's light!
Those hands!
Being tempted,
the river bottom's dark dark world—
Although down there is the dwelling place of bubbles,
although down there is where it is their merit to expand
fully their surface tensions.


paying no attention to surroundings
are growing as they want to grow.
This scenery gives a feeling of contentment.
Although stepped on by people,
before we can be aware,
they have lengthened so much that one's knees are bidder.
In some places
even a person's body is lost from sight
there are such deep places.
This scenery gives a feeling of contentment.
When able to grow without limit
they should go ahead and spread out.
Even though not attractive
the plentiful flowers should open abundantly.



I come walking out from inside a white cloud,
out to the tip of one board's length.
I bend over very far.
Time gets wrinkled up to there.
Kick! I have kicked.
Inside the sky already!
The sky continues holding me.
Muscles are hooked to the sky,
but they fall off.
Chased, pierced!
I struggle inside a sensation of transparency.
Outside the bubbles above my head
women's laughter and waists appear.
A red beach umbrella's
big stripes I hurry to grab.

Grave Visiting

Though that sea which is called Solomon's
direction is unknown,
the body which was submerged there
sleeps in Musashino's ground.
This civilization which is impossible to understand
is extremely difficult for me to endure.

Anyway I
riding on a painted electric train
have come all the way,
and was reading Camus in the car.
Among the dried grasses
violets are out, their purple.
On the rocks the fruit of wild roses
lies darkened like water drops of recollection.

Oh forever is a transparent stomach.
Bones, nature,
are they only its feces?

Everywhere the great excretion of spring.
And yet within it,
undigested, the dubiousness of human beings.
For the sake of a shriveled-up mummy
pray a long time.

Horse on a City Street


Big naked primitive
with blue organs inside!
He often
slipped on the polished artificial marble.
With teeth exposed, he looked back, but
nobody was there.
Poor raw-smelling spirit
that strayed into a peculiar country !
is a transparent hell
where everything evaporates.
First death too,
second death too,
and even the myth.

The horse
recognized a mystic sign
at a strange city corner—
his race's eternal transmigration,
that intense red Pegasus.

Night Storm

I casually stop my midnight writing.
From somewhere a man's voice was heard.
Too, I feel I could hear the whistling of my brother who
supposedly was killed in a sea battle.
But they
of course must have come from my imagining ears.
Outside, reverberating through the darkness,
a night storm is blowing harder.
Crazily dancing, the garden trees rustle.
Violent at times
is the wind's blowing sound in the bamboo hedge.
This seasonal wind
flows across the southern islands
blowing on all of the injuries of our world,
eventually flows across the continent,
and will run away to the vastness of far-off Siberia.
But even so, in the middle of this commotion,
there are and should be numerous voices.
I believe there are and should be tidings that are hand to

I strain my intent ears.
Then suddenly, boisterously,
combined with the noise of the door of an abandoned
greenhouse falling down
is heard the scream of shattering glass.
Because of my horror I
unexpectedly drop my pen.
An invisible current of air whirls around me and
passes away—
soon, alone, I laugh at myself
and resume writing my new essay on poetry.

I am sure tomorrow
upon the blown-out morning sky,
with so much whiteness they hurt my forehead,
popping, the plum blossoms might open up.

A Deer

A deer at the verge of the forest
in the sunset was standing motionless.
He knew
his small forehead was being aimed at
nevertheless for him
what was there to do?
He, standing elegantly,
was staring toward a village
(the time for living glistens like gold)
from there where his dwelling place was
against the night of the big forest.

The Bridge

At night in the city
from thousands of wounds
blood comes spurting out.

It comes flowing into the canal
that is stagnant, dully,
where the bridge is suspended.
The bridge is neither going toward a future
nor coming from a past,
just from the opposite shore, to this shore,
it is only hanging
over a dead current
and just fastening together two nights.

When night becomes late, over there at its top
an aged man and a young woman come
and, without appearing confident,
casually hug one another.

The Canal at Night

From somewhere, half asleep, a seagull cries out.
A small fish that has swallowed tar
from time to time tormentedly leaps up
and in the same way goes down under the waves again.

This place is not an ocean.
With no origin, without an outlet.
The bottom of night, a river without a name.
Destiny is motionless,
destiny's river.
Inside a warmish mist
smelling of a horse's odor
a blood-filled lamp shines all night long,
and out of the shade, totteringly,
a person from the past comes staggering,
augh, pours out quantities of vomit.

At the bottom of human consciousness
the backed-up waters of sin without an outlet,
sleeping, that tender river.

The Ox

Glittering eyelashes and behind them
the meek eyeballs of dreaminess
that almost become invisible.
And there around the artless brow
an abundance of golden hair is curling.

Past this expression that has no future
the thing that is crouching heavily
with its black weight
is a large "now."

A young couple who will be married
keep watching him for a long time
and wonder about life
while against a narrow flexible-looking
white fence they are leaning.


Broken Glasses

Petals of chrysanthemums have been burnt by flames
and blackly scorched.

Inside the roaring sounds of the city's commotion
fragrance has faded away.

The slaughter keeps on continuously.
The bombs of the bombing planes
are released like waterfalls.

Immature books have been blasted away,
superfluous desires have been burnt out,
the ground is completely filling with poisonous gases.

Amongst the accumulated smells of rotting
there is only one thing that is not at all shaken,
an abandoned pair of glasses.

The Fly

I thought I would live forever.
Forever was inside a single fly.

When the fly was chased by a hand
he flew away gently.
Toward that attitude of composure
I felt friendliness.

Late at night
with the electric light shining,
listening to the sounds of rain outside.

I was reading a book.
On a page of the opened book
a single fly
cast a shadow of loneliness without realizing it.
Forever, like a fly's legs, is
thinly bending.

The Ocean

The ocean was bottomlessly deep.
Standing at the edge of the ocean
I looked toward the bottom of the ocean.

Dangerously near tumbling off,
what I thought of was the things of my future.
Time was imagined like the legs of an infant who has not
yet walked.

No matter what happens anywhere
there is nothing else to do

but stand on this steep cliff, clench my teeth, and close
my eyes.

The unexperienced future
like fishermen's fires flickering past the horizon
has darkness around itself.

I seem to have thrown my body down into that ocean.



I am sleeping
together with someone
in a single bed.

An affectionate arm-pillow is loaned to me.
I fondle only that arm.

Except for that
no body,
no face,
no hair.

Who do you think the person is?
Guess please.

Stars at Night

There are stars above Japan.
There are stars that smell of gasoline.
i There are stars that have heavy accents.
There are stars that sound like Ford automobiles.
There are stars that are Coca Cola colored.
There are stars that have the humming of electric refrigerators.
There are stars that contain the rattling of cans.
Cleaned out with gauze and pincers
there are stars disinfected with formalin.
There are stars that hold radioactivity.
Among the stars are some too quick to catch with the eyes.
Stars that run along unexpected orbits.
Deeply, deeply,
stars are seen too that thrust into the gorge-bottom of the universe.

There are stars up above Japan.
They, on a winter's night,
each night, each night,
are seen linked like heavy chains.


Melancholy Summer

Already I—have become tired of such a deep-colored summer.
In the grove the masses of royal fern—have grown up to
their full height and
underneath them
I suppose such things as beetles, frogs, and blue-green
dwarves are walking.
This greenness like a sea
must have totally dyed the expression of my eyes.
Turtledoves also
in the forest depths
are very sleepily crying.
Swaying trees are turning over leaves to whiteness,
a wagon even—could not be seen going rattling above the valley.
The sky has cleared up entirely and,
with not even one memory to enliven my heart,
this summer will go away and
oh when will a time come
when a surprising thing will happen in my universe?
Until then
even if it is for years and years I
will keep on having a dream impossible to tell.
Girls who were friends of earlier days
all—know love or are pallid wives of others.
And so—I at eighteen—I at nineteen,
being left a solitary retreating figure,
into the forest depths of the needle dropping pine trees

A Night Frozen Hard

A cat is wailing.
On the road through the snow a child walked along
shedding tears.

The sky was filled with the glitter of stars.
Snow was frozen hard.

Next door the bride, suffering after childbirth,
lay in bed with swollen cheeks.
You cat! Don't cry so stubbornly and terribly.
Again tonight it is so silent that
on the road through the snow several kinds of creatures
are walking around.

A Night of the Moon Again

Under the light of this moon
I probably will go walking on and on unconscious of where.
Ah, on my hands and the long grasses
soft tender light is being reflected the same as phosphorus.
It seems I am not alone.

It seems I go walking with someone, such a bright path.
It is so beautiful that
I want to hold the light in my hands and look at it.
If we should meet inside such moonlight,
without saying anything she
would probably come following after me
and it would probably become clear we both told lies.


Watching the Beam of a Lighthouse

On the dark sea the green beam from a lighthouse.
What tenderness.
Blinking, turning around
in my night,
the whole night, it wanders.

And you
to my night
give many many meanings
of grief and wishes
that cannot be told.

O griefs, wishes, and what tenderness.
Though nothing exists,
in my night,
the whole night
the green beam from a lighthouse wanders.

Locusts in the Garden

After my journey
here in this garden the garden locusts were crying.
I wanted to write
something like a poem.
Paper open,
like water, plain, several lines came out
and then
in front of what was written,
unexpectedly, utterly different from it
and with a kind of sense of a previous life,
with a sickly feeling accompanied by faint dizziness,
I was hearing the locusts.


At the Boundary of Life and Death

At the boundary of life and death
what exists I wonder?
For instance, concerning the boundary of country and country,
during the war, on the border of Thailand and Burma,
although I saw it when I crossed through the jungle,
nothing unusual was found at that place.
There was nothing like a boundary line drawn.
Also at sea when passing directly over the equator
nothing special like a beacon mark was visible.
No, at that place was the wonderful dark blue sea.
On the Thailand-Burma border was a wonderful sky.
After a squall a wonderful rainbow hung in the sky.
On the life-death boundary too might there not be
something hung like a wonderful rainbow,
even though my surroundings
and also my self
were a devastated jungle?

Fingernails of the Dead

Upon cold bricks
ivy lengthens.
At the bottom of night
time accumulates heavily,
fingernails of the dead lengthen.


Wild Duck

"Do not become a duck!"
At the time,
was that what the duck said?
We plucked feathers,
singed down,
roasted the meat and gobbled it up. All of us
licking and licking our lips,
an evening haze hanging over the edge of the swamp
we were leaving. It was then.

"Wait, wait,
the bones can still be sucked on !"

We all looked back
and the duck's laughing and
glittering keel of bones was seen.



A time when even the gods are absent,
not even shadows of living things exist,
not even the smell of death is ascending,
a summer afternoon of deep prostration.
From a congested area,
tearing off cloudlike things,
inundating things of stickiness,
at a place completely deserted
there is a thing that originates.
There is a thing that suggests a life,
polished by dust and light
one single egg that is occupying the grand earth.

Still Life

Inside the rigid-surfaced bowl of the night,
increasing vividness,
autumn fruit.

Apple and pear and grape varieties,
every one of them,
piled up as they are in a pose
in sleeping

in a unified harmony,
enter into magnificent music.
Each one's deepest place having been reached into,
cores leisurely lay themselves down.
Around them
circles an abundant time of rotting.
Now in front of the dead's teeth,
like rocks with nothing coming out of them,
those varieties of fruit
more and more increase their weight.
And within the deep bowl,
inside an apparition of this night,
lean far over.


The Sea

Running out
whirling my arms
kicking back sand
a domesticated
little being
to wild nature
the sea


tells everything in silence
to one that passes by busily
the voice is inaudible
a far green cape
sand over a fence
that's all

Hide and Seek

Suddenly still
the world becomes quiet
Everyone wickedly
becomes silent

By a downy cheek
a half-warm wind blows


The Discarded Horse

What on earth is it, going from where to where,
that is passing around through here I wonder?
The same as a wounded god,
a single abandoned military horse.
Shining more than death,
alone more than liberty,
and at the same time like peacefulness without a helper,
is the field of snow where he temporarily wanders about
with hardly his own lean shadow to feed on.
Presently one cry is neighed-out toward the distance
and collapsing from the knees he has tumbled down.
The Asian snow, the heavenly evening!

The Flower Shop

On a solitary night, vaguely coloring a certain street corner,
a flower shop is full of flowers like animated words.

It is pleasant to look for flowers when melancholy.
It is even better, while smiling, to give those flowers to  someone.

But even more than that, instead of looking for flowers  to give
it is best to watch flowers while discarding the many  selves.
At the flower shop my words too are various like animated  flowers.

When I turn the street corner at night my being is again
one thing,
just a being in distress, that can see everything.


The Electric Train

A person hanging onto a strap!
A person sitting upon a seat!
A person swaying in time to the sway !
Under the gloomy electric lights,
who you are nobody knows
getting off at your station.
There are times of riding beyond the station and
back again.
Who you are even you do not know.

Your exhausted necktie—
inside of its knot
something you do not realize is hiding.
Broken-down shoes unpolished for how-many days-
inside the worn-out leather heels
something that irritates you is hiding.
If you think it over well
you will come to realize what it is.

It is hiding inside the flame of a single match
burning your dead body.


The Evening Sun

The roof above the tops of the summer weeds becomes
entirely hidden.
Though until just now children were sticking their faces
from the doorway
they have all become invisible.
At my back
the town gradually becomes smaller.
Everything everywhere is no more than the play of lights
and shadows.

Insects are crying with thin voices.
For what reason do they keep on going from the beginning
although it would be better for them to be quiet in a corner
of memory ?

Now I will climb a hill.
If only this summer will pass,
the cool wind come blowing again
and comfort my feelings, but . . .

Chasing after the sky, coming up to here,
this cannot be called a hill anymore.
It is as though from an even higher elevation
I dropped into the depths of the still higher blue sky,
the deepest blue sky.

This is exhilarating, even to me.
Both close and distant, was there ever such an evening sun
going down?


Four Thousand Days and Nights

In order for a single poem to come into existence,
you and I have to kill,
have to kill many things,
many lovable things, kill by shooting, kill by assassination,
kill by poisoning.

Look !

Out of the sky of four thousand days and nights,
just because we wanted the trembling tongue of one
small bird,
four thousand nights of silence and four thousand days
of counterlight
you and I killed by shooting.


Out of all the cities of falling rain, smelting furnaces,
midsummer harbors, and coal mines,
just because we needed the tears of a single hungry child
four thousand clays of love and four thousand nights of
you and I killed by assassination.
Just because we wanted the fear of one vagrant dog
who could see the things you and I couldn't see with our
and could hear the things you and I couldn't hear with our
four thousand nights of imagination and four thousand days
of chilling recollection
you and I killed by poison.

In order for a single poem to come
you and I have to kill beloved things.
This is the only way to bring back the dead to life.
You and I have to follow that way.


from "Journey"

Astride a Himalayan pony
I pass through a forest of orchids.
I am wanting to meet Maya-bunin.
This journey—unexpectedly
is a varied dining table—full of shuddering.
Under the shadow of pagoda trees
I sit in a tea shop made of pure mud
and take off—my face
and wipe accumulated years of sweat.
On the highway—shimmering air.
Small boys—limbs and bodies
being scattered
swim away in the midst of light.



At three
I didn't have a past

At five
my past was to yesterday

At seven
my past was to the age of warriors

At eleven
my past was to dinosaurs

At fourteen
my past was as the textbooks

At sixteen
I watched the infinity of the past with fear

At eighteen
I don't know what time is


To Live

I wonder if people know
that there are several layers in the water?
Fish deep in it and duckweed drifting on its surface
bathe in different lights.
That makes them various colored.
That gives them shadows.

I gather up pearls on a pavement.
I live inside a phantom forest;
upon notes of music scattered over the strings of my being.
I live in hollows of drops that trickle upon snow;
in damp ground of morning where liverwort opens.
I live upon a map of the past and future.

I have forgotten the color my eyes were yesterday.
But what things my eyes saw yesterday
my fingers realize
because what eyes saw was by hands
patted like touching the bark of a beech tree.
O I live upon sensations blown about by wind.


An occasional Image

Casually curving on a country road,
facing toward an utterly different view—
the same mental image of the past,
where was it,
when was it?

The time and also the place, not exact,
pass over my consciousness at certain moments.

Strangely clear
that scenery of the mind,
a thing awaking in a fathomless place,
a being always observing the thoughts of my self,
the impulse inside my self,
a view-point of the bird's eye,
my self that is not my self.

Early Spring

If I make an attempt to walk with each and every thing
thrown off
the air with the mischievous smile of a devil
attempts to present all things to me
so that my being will be bewitched by any one of them.

I throw them away
and then I begin to walk all over again.
And the world is in early spring.
Under the girdered expressway a milk-colored haze is
the sunlight of morning shining into it aslant.

Where a powdering of frost halfway comes off the tops
of roofs
children of sunlight blow upon tiny horns of spring.
Heads of grey-green colored hills and
heads of buildings on this side stretch up billowingly.

Looking out on this scene of such joyful existence
now I will stop questioning the condition of "happiness."

Sonnets Rubai Tanka Haiku Gazel

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