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Winter 2005, vol 3 no 4

Tanka by Kisaburo Konoshima
newly translated by David Callner

This is the first in a series of new translations of selected tanka by
Kisaburo Konoshima (1893 1984).

 
   

1950

今更に吾子もゆくらし愛慾の焦熱地獄わがゆきし道
Now my son goes down a path I took
a burning hell of lust
 
   
磐石のゆるぎなきごとく言掲ぐる男に見入りぬ憐みもちつつ
A man speaks - as solid as a rock
I gaze at him with pity
 
   
起きゐてか寝てかは知らねこの刻を君も生くらん地のいづくにか
I do not know if you wake or sleep this moment
perhaps you are alive in the world somewhere
 
   

1951

大空に枝葉を伸べて陽を享けて樫の巨木の独り顔なる
Stretching leafy branches to the sky and taking in the sun
the huge oak tree is a face
 
   

1952

メーデーの騒擾の犠牲死者一人死者一人と報ぜられて了る生霊
One dead - a victim of the May Day disturbances
a soul comes to an end with the news report - one dead
 
   
川の中に二畝がほどの陸ありて生ふる雑木のひしめきて見ゆ
In the river stands two hundred yards of land
its rich thicket looks like jostling
 
   
雪の夜半炉辺に聞きし亡母の吐息事由は知らね今なほ憶ゆ
My lamented mother's sigh from a snowy night's hearth
for some reason I remember it still now
 
   
際涯なき乾坤宇宙の中心のこの一点のわが立つところ
At the center of the endless universe
this point where I stand
 
   
悠久の時の流にわが生くるこの瞬間を現実といふ
In the eternal current of time
this moment I live is called "reality"
 
   
原子弾爆破の如き赫怒あらばこの憂鬱は消え去るならめ
If I could rage like an atomic explosion
this dejection might go away
 
   
追憶の瞼に浮かぶ影像の大方は皆笑顔なるが悲し      (訃報)
The souls that appear in the eye of my memory
are mostly smiling - yet they sadden me        (News of a death)
 
   
この岸に七つのインデアン族和を諮り敢て戦ふ事をせざりき
On these shores seven Indian tribes deliberated over peace
and dared not to wage war *
 
   
国連の知者も学者もその工夫オトソガ湖畔のインデアンに及ばず
Wise men and scholars of the United Nations strive
but cannot equal the Indians on the shores of Lake Otsego *
 
   
溺れ得ず悟りも得せで幾十秋老蝶一つ土塊にすがる
Finding neither excessive fondness nor enlightenment over many an autumn
a single old butterfly I cling to a lump of earth
 
   
わがたまのうかるるままに折々をわらひつ泣きつこれぞ我歌
Any way my soul might play - now laughing now crying
O these are my poems
 
   
詠み捨てて忘れはてなんわが歌ぞいのちの火花たつきの響
O my poems - composed then discarded and completely forgotten
the sparks of life - the echoes of a moment
 
   
   
*The Iroquois Indians on the shores of Lake Otsego, New York, where Konoshima and his wife often summered. D.C  
   

For additional information about the poet Kisaburo Konoshima, see the review "Konoshima's American Diary" by Michael McClintock, in Simply Haiku v3n3, June 2005.


David Callner David Callner was born in 1956. His youth was spent in France, England, Italy, and America. Since 1978 he has lived in Japan. He has written four novels, all as yet unpublished. He teaches English as an adjunct at Nagano University.