Sunday, January 25, 2015

"hushed and glittering points"

The muted palette of today's late afternoon reminds me of some Japanese woodblock prints; 
that, and the delicate tracery of the dry grasses. The ducks like to hang out here, 
just where the stream bends.

The Tsugaru Strait

A shelf of black stratocumulous clouds has formed in the south
Two ancient blue-green peninsulas
Take turns to brush away the fatigue of the day
         . . .two merging currents
         extracting sea fog again and again. . .
The waves, their hushed and glittering points
Repeated reflections in a variety of angles
Or, the weaving of stripes of silver and onion green
Or tin pest and Prussian blue
And when the water changes its costume of seven colors
Exulting in its companions
          . . .a flashy and lucid wedding
          in the Oriental fashion. . .
The ship's smoke flows toward the south
The channel, a ghastly beautiful arsenic mirror

Before you know it, the land of Hokkaido is undulating
As rainclouds whirl their black tails
Under the northern sun

Kenji Miyazawa

Strong in the Rain; selected poems, translated by Roger Pulvers
Bloodaxe Books, 2007, page 83.

Here is a short Wikipedia article on the Tsugaru Strait, which separates Honshu from Hokkaido.

Look up tin pest in Wikipedia--that's very interesting! In the context of the poem, I thought it was just another color, like Prussian blue. This poem makes me want to go to Hokkaido; actually, I have wanted to go ever since I saw the book of photos that Michael Kenna took there.
This Japanese poet, Kenji Miyazawa, holds a very high place in the history of 20th century Japanese poetry. There is not way I can compare them to the originals, but I am very impressed by the poems in this book!

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