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Summer 2007, vol 5 no 2

Tanka by Kisaburo Konoshima
newly translated by David Callner*

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

 
   

1963

髯剃れば白毛と皺と意地っぱりと在米四十八年の顔が鏡に写る
As I shave I see a face - grizzled wrinkled and obstinate
forty-eight years in America - in the mirror
 
   
たてつけよき我が住居にて内にこもる我が体臭は鼻持ならぬ
Lingering about my snug abode
my body odor stinks
 
   
眼をふせてものを想へば我とわが三界をみる心の底に
Gazing downwards in thought I see myself
my past present and future - at the bottom of my soul
 
   
酔ひしれし経験のなき我を省みつ秋夜さむざむと独り酒くむ
"Once I had never been fuddled"
I drink with a chill in my heart this autumn night
 
   
クリスマスイーブ只ゆきずりに語らひし彼氏も生くるならん地の何処にか
The guy I spoke with in passing on Christmas Eve
Is he alive somewhere?
 
   
風速三十哩ハドソンは一夜の中に銀河と変り
Winds of thirty miles an hour - the Hudson
becomes a galaxy overnight
 
   
ハドソンを覆ふ浮氷は陽をはじき徐々に逆流す意思持つ如く
Ice on the Hudson reflects the sun
and gradually flows backward as with a mind of its own
 
   
夜半に起きて独り酒汲む我癖を老妻近時しきりにいとふ
Lately my aged wife constantly grows upset
with my habit of rising at midnight to drink sake
 
   
我も識る不摂生を老妻に詰られてわざと不機嫌に盃を含む
Reproached by my aged wife for indeed neglecting my health
I aggressively hold a sake cup to my mouth
 
   
とりどりに咲く花はいろ鮮明に緑いや濃きホノルルの街
Diverse blossoms vividly colored
in how deep a green - Honolulu
 
   
サラサラと葉摺かなでてココヤシは月に映えつつそよ風に踊り
Accompanied by its rustling leaves the coconut palm
shines in the moonlight - dancing with a gentle breeze
 
   
椰子の葉摺雨かとまどひ窓押せば碧空高く月白く冴え
Palm leaves rustle - rain? - I open the window
high in an azure sky the moon is white and clear
 
   
光増し数をましゆく星をかぞへ仰臥するワイキキの浜風涼し
The lights grow brighter and their numbers multiply - I lie counting stars
a cool breeze crosses Waikiki beach
 
   
緑樹覆ふ街をへだてて紫紺なす大洋横はり入道雲むらだつ
Bluish-purple ocean divides the verdant town
a thunderhead is swelling
 
   
盛夏を巷に出れど汗を知らずホノルルは真に洋上の楽園
Outside in midsummer yet one never sweats
Honolulu is a floating paradise
 
   
叢立てる白雲の厳窟下に見て碧空一路太平洋を越ゆ
Crags of white cloud rise in clusters below
as I cross the Pacific straight through an azure sky
 
   
ローマンスカー新婦無邪気にスヤスヤと新夫の肩に顔寄せて眠り
In the "Romance Car" a bride - innocent and peaceful
rests her head on her groom's shoulder and sleeps

(The "Romance Car" is the name of the express train on the Odakyu Line in Japan. D.C.)
 
   
通り過ぐる雲間霧間に富士の嶺じらすが如く麗姿を見せて
A break in the mist and the clouds scudding by
Fuji reveals her lovely figure teasingly
 
   
瀬の音に目覚めて居れば河鹿鳴き蛍かすかに窓をよぎりぬ
I am awake with the sound of the rapids - frogs are croaking
fireflies pass dimly by my window
 
   
釣れでよし釣れて尚よし鮎つると四間竿もて奔流にいどむ
Fine if I don't - better yet if I do
long pole in hand I set out for the rapids to catch ayu
 
   
囲み佇つ顔顔赭くてり映えて四囲みな暗くキャンプファイアー燃ゆ
Red faces glow in a circle
those beyond are dark - the campfire blazes
 
   

*Readers who have enjoyed this series of tanka translations may now add them to their personal libraries in the perfect bound, 136 page book:

Hudson: A Collection of Tanka by Kisaburo Konoshima
Translated into English by David Callner
Tokyo, Japan: Japan Times, 2005.
ISBN 4-7890-1179-8

 
   

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. He teaches English as an adjunct at Nagano University.