Image credit: Kevin McNamee-Tweed, "Untitled," clay

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Awakening on Winter Mornings

 

On winter mornings

Even the River Jordan is covered with a thin layer of ice

In my bedroom wrapped up in my white blanket

I imagine how John the Baptist felt as he baptized Christ

I imagine how Salome felt as she held John’s severed head

On winter mornings the sound of wooden clogs

Echoes shyly from the street

Let me merge with nature’s immensity

Like the silently rotating constellations

I too must get moving

Then the sweet smell of mocha

Wafts into my room

Like a spirit reborn with eyes wide awake

At that moment I know

With the coolness of a mathematician

There are strange rhythms

Like waves rippling in our human world

Wake up, my love

On winter mornings

Songbirds will be singing outside your suburban home

For my love has opened her dark eyes by now

Stretching her arms like a young girl

Enjoying the beautiful morning light

I imagine her smiling as she listens to the songbirds singing

And seized by this moment

Tapping on my white blanket

I sing a hymn to love

On winter mornings

My heart is full

And I shout for joy

A pure and good life this is

The haze appears as gold dust

Across these amber blue skies

As an English Pointer begins barking in the distance

This yearning, this hunger arises

And before long, I am yearning for my love again

On winter mornings

I bite into the ice of the River Jordan

 

Midnight Snow

 

A warm fire in the gas stove

Crackling faintly

As the man and the woman

Are lit up gently by lamplight

In the study windows and doors

Shut tight against the cold

Cloudy since nightfall

Outside is snowing

Looking out the window

Everything covered in white

As the snow silently piles up

Snow falling on the ground

On the roof, in our hearts

As the world looks on in wonder

Like a child with eyes wide open

At this lightness wrapped in delight

From a distance we hear someone’s voice, saying “Oh, look at how the snow has piled up”

And the sound of wooden clogs

Tramping through the snow

Then as the hour reaches eleven

We grow quiet

No longer interested in drinking our tea

We just sit holding hands

Listening to the deep quiet of the world

Watching the flow of time

Faces faintly perspiring, filled with tranquility

Trying to be open to human feelings

Again the sound of wooden clogs

Tramping through the snow

And the distant rumble of a car

“Just look at that snow,” I say to her

As she becomes part of a fairy tale

Her lips parting ever so slightly She rejoices in the snow

And the snow in turn rejoices in the night

Piling up, endlessly

Warm snow

Snow falling-- heavily, gently-- down on us

 

In Adoration of Love

 

Passion that knows no limit

Like terrifying rising tides

A burning, perspiring fire

Where salamanders dance—turning, twisting

 

Late night snow ceaselessly falling is a wedding feast

Our cries breaking the desolate air

As we are shattered by this beautiful force

Immersing our bodies in mysterious rhythm

We breathe an arousing rose-colored mist

Illuminated by the jewels of Indra’s Net

We mold our souls again and again

 

Hidden in winter, new life

Cradled in winter, the heat of sprouting new life

Everything burning in the rhythm of time

As we too are burning in electrical ecstasy

 

Our skin comes alive

Our internal organs repositories of our joy

Hair lit up fluorescent

Fingers with a life of their own, crawling

The real world that is chaos

Devours all words

 

Full of light

Full of bliss

 

All distinctions revolving in one sound

Poison and nectar—all housed together within

Our bodies convulsing unbearably

Supreme ecstasy lighting up a labyrinth

 

We are buried under the heavy warmth of the snow

Melting into the natural elements

Endlessly lost in earthly love

In praise of our lives from afar

 

Cohabitants of the Same Kind

 

--Quietly, I mold clay

--Click-clack, Chieko weaves

--A mouse runs out for a peanut fallen on the floor

--A sparrow snatches it away first

--A praying mantis sharpens its claws on the clothesline

--A fly-catching spider performs a triple jump

--A hanging hand towel dances a solo

--The mail arrives with a crash

--The clock takes a nap

--The iron kettle does too

--Hibiscus leaves unfurling their tongues

--As a small earthquake shakes

To the music of cicadas singing

Above all these cohabitants of the same kind

A blazing noonday sun beats down



View Original Work ↓

冬の朝のめざめ

 

冬の朝なれば

ヨルダンの川も薄く氷りたる可し

われは白き毛布に包まれて我が寝室の内にあり

基督に洗礼を施すヨハネの心を

ヨハネの首を抱きたるサロオメの心を

我はわがこころの中に求めむとす

冬の朝なれば街より

つつましくからころと下駄の音も響くなり

大きなる自然こそはわが全身の所有なれ

しづかに運る天行のごとく

われも歩む可し

するどきモツカの香りは

よみがへりたる精霊の如く眼をみはり

いづこよりか室の内にしのび入る

われは此の時

むしろ数理学者の冷静をもて

世人の形くる社会の波動にあやしき因律のめぐ

るを知る

起きよ我が愛人よ

冬の朝なれば

郊外の家にも鵯は夙に来鳴く可し

わが愛人は今くろき眼を開きたらむ

をさな児のごとく手を伸ばし

朝の光りを喜び

小鳥の声を笑ふならむ

かく思ふとき

我は堪へがたき力の為めに動かされ

白き毛布を打ちて

愛の頌歌をうたふなり

冬の朝なれば こころいそいそと励み 

また高くさけび

清らかにしてつよき生活をおもふ

青き琥珀の空に

見えざる金粉ぞただよふなる

ポインタアの吠ゆる声とほく来れば

ものを求むる我が習癖はふるひ立ち

たちまちに又わが愛人を恋ふるなり

冬の朝なれば

ヨルダンの川に氷を噛まむ

 

深夜の雪

 

あたたかいガスだんろの火は

ほのかな音を立て

しめきつた書斎の電燈は

しづかに、やや疲れ気味の二人を照す

宵からの曇り空が雪にかはり

さつき窓から見れば

もう一面に白かつたが

ただ音もなく降りつもる雪の重さを

地上と屋根と二人のこころとに感じ

むしろ楽しみを包んで軟かいその重さに

世界は息をひそめて子供心の眼をみはる

「これみや、もうこんなに積つたぜ」

と、にじんだ声が遠くに聞え

やがてぽんぽんと下駄の歯をはたく音

あとはだんまりの夜も十一時となれば

話の種さへ切れ

紅茶もものうく

ただ二人手をとつて

声の無い此の世の中の深い心に耳を傾け

流れわたる時間の姿をみつめ

ほんのり汗ばんだ顔は安らかさに満ちて

ありとある人の感情をも容易くうけいれようとする

又ぽんぽんぽんとはたく音の後から

車らしい何かの響き―

「ああ、御覧なさい、あの雪」

と、私が言へば

答へる人は忽ち童話の中に生き始め

かすかに口を開いて

雪をよろこぶ

雪も深夜をよろこんで

数限りもなく降りつもる

あたたかい雪

しんしんと身に迫つて重たい雪が―

 

愛の嘆美

 

底の知れない肉体の慾は

あげ潮どきのおそろしいちから―

なほも燃え立つ汗ばんだ火に

火竜はてんてんと躍る

 

ふりしきる雪は深夜に婚姻飛揚の宴をあげ

寂寞とした空中の歓喜をさけぶ

われらは世にも美しい力にくだかれ

このとき深密のながれに身をひたして

いきり立つ薔薇いろの靄に息づき

因陀羅網の珠玉に照りかへして

われらのいのちを無尽に鋳る

 

冬に潜む揺籃の魔力と

冬にめぐむ下萌の生熱と―

すべての内に燃えるものは「時」の脈搏と共に脈うち

われらの全身に恍惚の電流をひびかす

 

われらの皮膚はすさまじくめざめ

われらの内臓は生存の喜にのたうち

毛髪は蛍光を発し

指は独自の生命を得て五体に匍ひまつはり

道を蔵した渾沌のまことの世界は

たちまちわれらの上にその姿をあらはす

 

光にみち

幸にみち

 

あらゆる差別は一音にめぐり

毒薬と甘露とは其の筺を同じくし

堪へがたい疼痛は身をよぢらしめ

極甚の法悦は不可思議の迷路を輝かす

 

われらは雪にあたたかく埋もれ

天然の素中にとろけて

果てしのない地上の愛をむさぼり

はるかにわれらの生を讃めたたへる

 

同棲同類

 

―私は口をむすんで粘土をいぢる。

―智恵子はトンカラ機を織る。

―鼠は床にこぼれた南京豆を取りに来る。

―それを雀が横取りする。

―カマキリは物干し綱に鎌を研ぐ。

―蠅とり蜘蛛は三段飛。

―かけた手拭はひとりでじやれる。

―郵便物ががちやりと落ちる。

―時計はひるね。

―鉄瓶もひるね。

―芙蓉の葉は舌を垂らす。

―づしんと小さな地震。

油蝉を伴奏にして

この一群の同棲同類の頭の上から

子午線上の大火団がまつさかさまにがつと照らす。

Translator Notes

 

Awakening on Winter Mornings

In this early poem, written before they married, Kotaro calls Chieko “my love” (愛人). He doesn’t call her his sweetheart or his girlfriend, which would have been appropriate for the time period (1912), but rather uses a term closer in spirit to “my lover.” This was a dramatic use of passionate language in the Japan of that time period. Also surprising to readers was his handling of European literary images and tropes from the Bible. At the end of the Meiji period, Oscar Wilde’s Salome had taken Japan by storm. The famous prints by Aubrey Beardsley illustrating Wilde’s play were also enormously popular.

 

Midnight Snow

“Oh, look at how the snow has piled up.”

Chieko, having just returned to Tokyo after spending a month in Niigata with her family, went to visit Kotaro at his atelier upon her return. The two were elated to spend a quiet evening together after having been apart for weeks. Chieko, delighting like a child at the snow, reminds Kotaro how love—like the snow itself—has within it a warmth which “piles up” deep within the heart.

 

In Adoration of Love

A burning, perspiring fire

Where salamanders dance—turning, twisting

The passionate language in the poem is stunning considering that it was written in 1914 Japan! Engaged to be married, the two lovers had started living together in Kotaro’s Tokyo Atelier. Neither of their parents attended the betrothal party, though their friends, the writers Yosano Akiko and Tamura Toshiko, were there with their husbands. Salamanders have been associated with fire since Aristotle. They were thought to be impervious to it—some people believing they were born from fire.

 

Cohabitants of the Same Kind

Kotaro had the second floor of the atelier remodeled for Chieko’s studio, and Chieko brought her loom from Fukushima. This poem is a charming depiction of their artists’ lives together—him sculpting and her weaving upstairs. It was mid-summer, hot, with cicadas singing—flowers were in bloom, and even their furniture seemed alive.


Leanne Ogasawara

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