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Autumn 2006, vol 4 no 3

Tanka by Kisaburo Konoshima
newly translated by David Callner

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

 
   

1957

暴風雨をはらむ黒雲波にやどしハドソンはいま上潮にもむ
Black clouds swollen with rain
sheltered beneath its waves the Hudson jostles in the rising tide
 
   
外出には杖忘れぬやうと姪の手紙失笑しつつも我齢をかぞふ
Don't forget your cane when you go out - says my niece's letter
I laugh impulsively but reckon my age
 
   
実子六人孫十二人婿も嬬も皆すこやかなり念仏もうす
Six children of my own - twelve grandchildren - sons-in-law and my wife
all are sound - I offer a prayer to Amitabha
 
   
逆縁にあふこともなく古希に近しこの幸ひに念仏もうす
Nearing three score and ten - never having met with gyakuen
I offer a prayer to Amitabha for this blessing

(Gyakuen - when parents survive their children. D.C.)
 
   
四十余年つれそふ妻との初の出会いつどこなりしか今は憶へず
Wedded over forty years - when and where I first met my wife
I no longer remember
 
   
台風誘導の方途ありぬべしなどと思ひヌクレアテストも報憎みもてきく
The means for inducing a typhoon should not exist
I listen to news of a nuclear test with hatred
 
   
川芥幾多淀に渦まくなかの二つひたと寄添ひ流れて去りぬ
Two from many pieces of trash eddying in the river's backwater
cuddle together and float away
 
   
寒天下破れサックに裸身を包み兵隊さん助けてと泣き居りし女
In freezing cold her naked body wrapped with a torn sack
"Help the soldiers" - a woman is crying
 
   
終戦時の北満の修羅語る時壮者はつひに声あげて慟哭す
When speaking of the war-end carnage in North Manchuria
grown men ultimately cry out and weep
 
   
血ぬらずとも死ぬ環境におけば人は死ぬ獄友幾多かくて殺戮されぬ
While not bloodied people still die in environments of death
in this way many an imprisoned friend was slaughtered
 
   
シベリアの白樺の林は今や青からん同胞幾万の死屍を肥料に
Siberia's birch forests must now be green
fertile with the corpses of thousands of my countrymen
 
   
十二年我等が骨に刻む実態の幾何を知るや憧蘇する若人等
Of the truth that we carved into our bones for twelve years
young men who long for a revival - O how much do you know?
 
   
低きビルとり毀されて次々に数十階の層楼其跡に建つ
Small buildings are torn down one after the other
skyscrapers rise in their wake
 
   
団雲の悠々をすぐる隙間より人間の巣が其処ここに見ゆ(飛行)
Clusters of clouds pass slowly beneath - through the openings
human nests are here and there                  (From an airplane)
 
   
団雲のかげり地上に黒く落ちそのかげ徐 々に村々を襲ふ
Darkness from the clouds falls blackly on the earth
steadily invading villages
 
   
大楡の影沼に落ち水藻咲く少年独り釣糸垂れて居り
The shadow of a huge elm falls on a marsh - duckweed blooms
alone a boy is dangling his fishing line
 
   
いはれなき孤愁を自覚する年頃か少年眼うるみをもてり
An age when lonely contemplation awakes for no reason?
the eyes of youth are blurred
 
   
第五街の雑踏をゆきつつポケットに小さき貝殻をふと探りあて
Walking the Fifth Avenue hustle and bustle
I absently finger some little shells in my pocket
 
   
真砂撰拾ふ土佐の娘が呉れし貝掌にのせて第五街騒音にたつ
Shells gathered in the sand by a young woman of Tosa
I hold them on my palm amidst the Fifth Avenue hustle and bustle

(Tosa is the old name for Kochi Prefecture. D.C.)
 
   
寄せ返す波際の真砂撰り拾ふ生業もあり土佐桂浜
Gathering shells from an undulating beach
this is a livelihood at the Kurihama shore in Tosa
 
   
三翠園今帝御寝間の間もありて我も寝ねたり今は旅館にて
The Sansui-en Inn has a room where once lodged the emperor
I too am staying at this inn
 
   
寂光院石段わきに住む農家藁屋の軒に干大根を吊し
Farmers who live near the stone steps of Jyakkou-in Temple
have hung dried daikon beneath thatch eaves

(Jyakkou-in Temple in the village of Ohara, outside of Kyoto. D.C.)
 
   
内灘に理路整然と語られし観念は畢竟に現実とは遊離し
Cogently expressed at Uchinada
a concept ultimately removed from reality

(This refers to the opposition against U.S. military base construction in Uchinada, Ishikawa Prefecture. D.C.)
 
   
政治屋とジャーナリズムが笛吹けば大衆は虚妄と手をとりて踊り
When cheap politicians and journalists blow their horns
the masses join hands with falsehood and dance
 
   
先づ軍用に発達したる飛行機なりき原子力の処理には人類よ智かれ
As with the airplane first developed for military purposes
O mankind - be wise with atomic energy
 
   
短歌は亡ぶ否亡びずと他人はいへ我は歌を詠むかかはりはなく
People argue whether tanka perish or do not perish
I compose poems regardless
 
   
この老醜正に我貌真向ひの飾棚の硝子戸に物喰める貌
This ugly old man - surely it is my face
the face chewing something in the cabinet glass
 
   
昨夜たちし東京の記憶新にてホノルルは清潔に整へる街
Last night's Tokyo still fresh in mind
Honolulu seems a neatly arranged town
 
   
我今や故国を二つ持てるらしホノルルに辿り着きホッと息する
Apparently I now have two countries
I arrive in Honolulu and breathe a sigh of relief
 
   
潮音の赤い表紙が縁にて隣席の佳人と車窓を語る
On a train Chou-on's red binding brings us together
I speak of the passing scenery with a beautiful woman beside me

(Chou-on is the name of the Kamakura-based poetry society Konoshima joined in 1950 - the society's red bound quarterly was also called Chou-on. D.C.)
 
   
   
Hudson: A Collection of Tanka by Kisaburo Konoshima
Translated into English by David Callner
Tokyo, Japan: Japan Times, 2005.
ISBN 4-7890-1179-8
5.5 x 8.25, perfectbound, 136 pp.
2500 Yen ($25 US).
To purchase, contact David Callner:
davidcallner@hotmail.com
The book is selling in America for $19, shipping included. Payment can be made via Paypal and a copy will be mailed directly to the buyer. Hudson is also on consignment in various Manhattan bookstores and in Japan.
 
   

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.