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Tanka by Ishikawa Takuboku


Selected from the above paperback, I have translated a number of tanka and showed them on Facebook.  Lately, I've been neglecting my blog, so here I am.


Takuboku is one of Japan's major poets.  He lived in extreme poverty, so many of his poems are grim, but I think I've selected here a good mix just to introduce to those readers who have never heard of his name.  His tanka speak to our heart.  Talking of heart, I’m still writing about my mother.


Takuboku was one of my mother's favorite poets.  She often recited his poem effectively at the right moment.  Yes, she was a great private actress!  But I didn’t think we were poor when I was young, and I didn’t think much about it.  Now I’m older and live in my fixed income, I feel much more.   


I thought about it.  I think my father had influence on Mother in the area of poetry.  He kept quiet.  Mother performed all the artistic expressions throughout our daily life.  The first one was my mother’s favorite when I was young.  


I hope you enjoy reading.


i work and work more
but my life doesn't get easier
stare at my hands


the hustle and bustle of Asakusa
in the evening
meanders in and out
that sad heart

pick up a mirror
and make every possible various faces
when i'm tired of crying

'die for such a small thing?'
'live for such a small thing?'
stop, stop questions and answers

cross my arms
and think lately
storm out before many eyes of enemy

on the road side
a dog makes a long yawn
i do the same
out of envy

without a reason
i want to dash out and run
until no more breath
perhaps on a meadow

show just one incredible thing
and while people are surprised
I think I'd disappear


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Hi Keiko, It's nice to see

Hi Keiko,

It's nice to see you on your blog. : )

#24 and #60 are my favorites. I like the poem that was your mother's favorite. It's melancholy.

They are all interesting and remind me of little secret boxes that you have to keep playing with and turning to find more openings. On the other hand, maybe I just pick up the box and don't think too much.

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Something new

Always glad to discover something new. Thanks for this, Keiko.

“'die for such a small thing?'
'live for such a small thing?'
stop, stop questions and answers"

Reminds me of our Zen discussion. Also, between life and death, all questions and answers become redundant.