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«Translated by Tomiyama Hidetoshi and Michael Pronko Preface The phenomenon called I Is one postulated, organic alternating-current-lamp Blue ...»

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Miyazawa Kenji’s “Preface”


Other Poems

Translated by

Tomiyama Hidetoshi and Michael Pronko


The phenomenon called I

Is one postulated, organic alternating-current-lamp

Blue illumination

(A complex of all transparent ghosts)

Together with scenes and with everyone

Busily, busily flickering

Very surely to keep on lighting,

One karmic alternating-current-lamp

Blue illumination

(Light persisting, its electric lamp lost)

These, from twenty-two months’

Direction sensed to be past Papers and mineral ink assembling (Everything that flickers with me Everyone senses at the same time) Continuing on to this, Are links and links of light and shade, Sketches of mental images as they are About all this, people, galaxies, asuras and sea urchins Eating cosmic dust, inhaling air or saltwater –1– 72 Might think up fresh ontologies But they are ultimately a mental climate Yet surely these recorded scenes are Each the very scene recorded as it is And if it is nothing, nothing itself is as it is And so to an extent is shared by everyone (All is within me everyone So everyone within each one is all) Yet within the Cenozoic alluvial epoch’s Enormous shining accumulation of time, The words supposed to have been rendered correctly In a light’s eclipse, time’s mere speck (Or a billion years of Asura) Might have already changed composition or quality And yet both I and the typographer Might sense them to be not changed at all, That, as a tendency, is possible, Really as we sense our receptive organs And scenes and characters Just sensing them in common, So what is called records and histories, geological histories Along with various data (Under the temporal spatial constraints of karma) Are no more than what we sense Perhaps two thousand years from now A pertinently different geology will be adopted Relevant evidence will emerge one by one from the past So everyone will think that two thousand years before There were colorless peacocks filling the blue sky And then aspiring scholars at the upper stratum of the atmosphere From the place of glittering frozen nitrogen Will excavate splendid fossils Or might well find In a stratified plane of Cretaceous sandstone Gigantic footprints of transparent humankind All these propositions are asserted As properties of images or time itself In the fourth dimensional continuum January 20, 1924 Miyazawa Kenji 71 –2– Miyazawa Kenji’s “Preface” and Other Poems Spring and Asura (mental sketch modified) From the gray steel of mental images Akebi vines coil around clouds Wild rose thickets, humus marshes Everywhere patterns and patterns of duplicity (When thicker than the noon’s wind-instrument music Amber splinters fall down) Anger’s bitterness, blueness At the bottom of the light in April’s atmosphere Spitting, gnashing, coming and going I am an asura (The scene swaying in tears) Unto the limits of visible smashing clouds In the limpid sea of the heavens The winds of Sacred Glass go far and wide Zypressen one single row of spring Breathes in ether, black From the column of their darkened feet Snowy ridges of Mount Heaven can be glimpsed, however (Shimmering waves, white polarized light) True words are not here Clouds scatter and fly in the sky Ah, at the bottom of shining April Gnashing, burning coming and going I am an asura (Chalcedonic clouds flowing Where does it sing, a bird of spring?) The Sun Wheel darkening to blue Asura resonates with the woods From heaven’s bowl collapsing in a dazzle Throngs of black trees extend Their branches grown thick and sorrowful All the duplicated scenes when In the dispirited woods from a treetop Flashes, darts off, a crow (The atmosphere clearer and clearer The hushed cypresses stand in the heavens) Someone is passing the grass field’s gold One ordinary human form In a straw coat looking at me, a farmer Can you really see me?

At the bottom of the blinding ocean atmosphere

–  –  –

Annelida Tänzerin (Well this is water sol Hazy agar liquid) The sunlight golden roses A small, red wriggling worm Wearing water and light around its body Is alone doing a dance (Eh, 8γe 6α Truly arabesque letters decorate) Fly corpses Dead yew leaves Pearl bubbles Moss stems ripped up and so (Princess Nachiranatora Now at the bottom of the water on a granite stone Together with Mister Yellow Shadow Deigns to dance for pleasure Oh but, no, before long Her Highness will float up, soon) The red Annelida Tänzerin Has two pointed ears With segments of phosphorescent coral Adorned primly with pearl buttons She turns and twirls around (Eh 8 γ e 6 α Truly arabesque letters decorate) 69 –4– Miyazawa Kenji’s “Preface” and Other Poems With her back brightly glittering She twirls her body with all her strength but The pearls are in truth false ones Not even of glass but of air (And yet, still Eight gamma e six alpha Truly arabesque letters decorate) Peeped through the opera glasses Of crystalline lens and membranes Even though you are said to be dancing When pearl bubbles disturb you You are not at all at ease And the sun is now hidden by a cloud And my feet have gotten numb sitting on the stone too long And the wood chip at the bottom looks like a worm or a sea slug And most importantly your form can’t be seen now So, have you really melted away?

Or from the start has everything been Just a faint blue dream?

(No, Her Highness is there, surely there The Princess is there 8γe 6α Truly arabesque letters decorate Hmmm the water hazy Lights meandering The worm Eight gamma e six alpha Truly arabesque letters decorate, aren’t they?

Ha ha ha (Yes, that’s it exactly Eight gamma e six alpha Truly arabesque letters decorate) (May 20, 1922) Wind Woods (In an oak tree no bird builds a nest Because it rattles too much) Here the grass is too rough And doesn’t suit breathing air from a faraway sky and Falling over as hard as I like There lying down watery-colored –5– 68 A row of students rests (Their shadows a synthesis of night and zinc) With them behind I throw myself on the grass The moon is now gradually losing silver atoms The oak trees bend their backs blackly Yanagisawa’s cedars are dearer to me than colloid And beyond bald Numamori A cavalry regiment’s lights stagnate ((Ah I wouldn’t mind dying)) ((I too could die)) (Was that Miyazawa standing so forlornly?

Or Odajima or Kunitomo The darkness behind the oak trees there Just now trembled, emitting lights That must be from the Egmont Overture Who said such a thing I need not wonder really ((Hey Den, how many shirts do you wear? Three?)) Tall and good-natured, Sato Denshiro In the dim twilight of reflected moonbeams Buttoning up his shirts Smiles and twists his mouth firmly With night particles and wind fragments cascading down And next to them like lead needles, flow moonbeams dimming ((Oh I...)) Saying that why did Hotta stop?

The last part of his voice echoes sadly He should’ve finished saying that (If not say it write it down in a notebook) Toshiko, Toshiko Coming to a field Or standing in the wind Without fail I remember you Are you on that gigantic Jupiter Beyond the steel-blue, splendid sky?

(Ah but in that space that no one ever knows Really are there light ribbons and orchestras?

.........Here a day is long, long Can’t even say what time of day......

Only a bit of communication from you One time on a train reached me) Toshiko, shall I cry out loud?

((My hands are numb)) ((Numb hands?

–  –  –

Toshio, you get that numbness often The other day you made me button up for you)) Which Toshio of the two? Kawamura?

That pale genius of comedy, an actor in “The Plant Doctor” I should jump up to my feet ((Oh you said Toshio, which one?)) ((Kawamura)) As I thought, Moonbeams stir the throng of oaks The oaks rustle all over (June 3, 1923) White Birds ((They are all thoroughbreds That kind of horse, that anyone can go catch?)) ((But only by the people who really know)) Under the antique looking Mount Kurakake The tufts of pasqueflower sway Under the light blue birch trees A gathering of chestnut horses Shine truly splendidly (The Japanese scroll of a sky’s ultramarine And the horizon’s turquoise is not rare But such a large ring of light, A phase of mind in the scene, is unusual) Two big white birds Sharply, sorrowfully crying to each other Fly away in the wet morning sunlight That must be my sister Must be my dead sister Crying so sorrowfully as her brother has come (That is wrong up to a point But not thoroughly wrong) Crying so sorrowfully Flying in the morning light (Not in the morning sunlight But like a ripe, tired afternoon) That however is also a vague silver illusion Caused by walking all night long (Surely this morning I saw the twisted molten gold liquid –7– 66 Rise from the blue dream of the Kitakami Mountains) Why do these birds, two of them Sound sorrowful like this?

When I lost in me a power to rescue I also lost my sister That is the reason for the sorrow (Last night in the moonlight of an oak woods This morning among the throng of lily bells How many times I called that name And a voice, whose it is no one knows, From the end of the field where no one was Responded to ridicule me) That is the reason for the sorrow Though really that voice too is sorrowful Now the birds, two of them, flash and flutter white And in the distant marsh, fall among the blue reeds Or seem to fall but rise again (In front of the new burial mound of Yamato Takeru The consorts prostrated and grieved And when by chance a plover flew Thinking it was the spirit of Takeru Hurting their feet on the blue reeds Along the seashore, they followed him) Kiyohara stands, laughing (Sun-tanned, shining, a real child of the village The bodhisattva-like shape of the head came from Gandhara) The water shines, clear silver water ((Now, there’s water over there Let’s rinse our mouths and go refreshed This field is now clear)) (June 4, 1923) A Letter Rain is falling, pitter-patter Transparent rain falling intermittently, among flickering mental images Wetting, horsetails and sorrels Cypress’ hair grown too long My chest is dark and hot It seems to begin fermenting

–  –  –

This side of the green bank wet with the rain A mantle coated with rubber as if blue with mud Is moving slowly, slowly That surely is a tough thing Where are you right now?

Already in the yellowish shady space on the right side of me Are you standing straight?

The rain has turned more transparent, and stronger Is some child chewing?

Over there that man sputters noises from his throat

–  –  –

[The hanging ornaments are hard, and drop down straight] [the beginning lost] The hanging ornaments are hard, and drop down straight.

Really, shimmering and shining, the living things fall down.

Truly those heavenly beings’ Sorrowful cries more transparent Than hydrogen sometime somewhere, Have you not heard?

The spears of ice sticking straight into the heavens, Their cries, you must have heard.

But when you hear about those who Fall down, or those who drowning try to Gulp down bitter salt water wholeheartedly, You only hear it now as A pitiable story of certain silly things Or a slightly unusual tale.

Yet only to think so

–  –  –

Those who have fallen there all cry out, Is it I who have fallen into this lake?

Has the fall really happened?

Completely. Who could believe that at once?

But in the end they believe it, And are sadder because of it.

–  –  –

When I go through this woods The path will return to the waterwheel I saw The birds are crying, glimmering They surely are thrushes, migrating All night long as the southern tip of the Milky Way Exploded in shining white Fireflies flew too often And moreover the winds incessantly shook the trees, So the birds could not sleep peacefully And now are so noisy Yet Only because I barely stepped into this woods Loud like this Louder like this They are crying like a shower of rain What strange fellows!

This is a big cypress woods, and 63 –10– Miyazawa Kenji’s “Preface” and Other Poems Upon each of the pitch-black branches Here and there shreds of sky are Trembling and respiring, To send out a kind of catalog Of the lights of all ages...... As the birds are so noisy I am standing, blank......

The path flows far away, barely white And from a dent in a clump of trees A red, turbid Mars rises Only two of the birds at some time came here stealthily And went away leaving clear, screeching sounds Ah, as the winds blow sending the sensations Of warmth and silver molecules And all the tetrahedrons, And fireflies fly fitfully, The birds cry louder than the rain I hear my dead sister’s voice From the farthest end of the woods...... So even if it’s no longer so, As with anyone it’s the same No need to think about it again......

The grass vapors and cedar smell The birds are noisy again Why do they cry so loud?

Even when the men drawing water for rice paddies Walk furtively at the edge of the woods And the stars shoot again and again in the southern sky, There’s nothing very dangerous One may sleep quietly

–  –  –

–11– 62 did not pursue difference for its own sake. Still, the ones here are different in several aspects.

For instance in “Preface” we present the metaphysical /religious announcements in parentheses to sound like coming from someplace else. In “Spring and Asura” we handle the lines as being hurtled forcefully but with clear syntactical connections.

“Annelida Tänzerin” observes a worm in water, transforming it into a princess. It attests to Miyazawa’s fertile imagination. Its refrain of numerals and Roman and Greek letters, an auditory and visual mimicry of the worm’s movements, is quite striking. It is one of the early, joyous poems and in the collection comes after “Vacuum Solvent,” a rambling, fantastic and pataphysical poem dealing with the merger with, and dissolution into, Nature’s forces. We have already published its translation in Poetry Kanto, No. 24.

The next two, “Wind Woods” and “White Birds” form one phase of Miyazawa’s tortuous spiritual vicissitudes after the death of his beloved sister Toshiko on November 27, 1922.

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