Ônishi Yasuyo — Selected Gendai Senry

Richard Gilbert and It Yki (trans.)

February 29, 2008

 

 

A haiku, hand-written during

our August 2007 interview

is located here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

火柱の中にわたしの駅がある

ひばしらのなかにわたしのえきがある

hibashira no naka ni watashi no eki ga aru

 

within a pillar of fire

my station

 

 

 

 

わたくしの骨とさくらが満開に

わたくしのほねとさくらがまんかいに

watakushi no hone to sakura ga mankai ni

 

my bones and cherry blossoms

reach full bloom

 

 

 

 

あじさい闇 過去がどんどん痩せてゆく

あじさいやみ かこがどんどんやせてゆく

ajisai yami kako ga dondon yasete yuku

 

hydrangea darkness

the past gradually withers

 

 

 

 

わが死後の植物図鑑きっと雨

waga shigo no shokubutsu zukan kitto ame

 

during my postmortem

an illustrated botany

rain comes, no doubt

 

 

 

 

袋小路で転ぶと海が見えてくる  

ふくろこうじでころぶとうみがみえてくる

fukurokji de korobu to umi ga miete kuru

 

from a blind alley

tumbling to a scene

of the sea

 

 

 

 

うしろから水の音して訃が来たり

うしろからみずのおとしてふがきたり

ushirokara mizu no oto shite fu ga kitari

 

from behind

comes the sound of water

comes news of death

 

 

 

 

どこまでが九月の風となるいのち

doko made ga kugatsu no kaze to naru inochi

 

where a life starts and becomes

september wind

 

 

 

 

狙撃兵のふところ深く百日紅

そげきへいのふところふかくさるすべり

sogekihei no futokoro fukaku sarusuberi

 

in the deep bosom

of a sniper

myrtle blossom

 

 

百日紅 sarusuberi (crape myrtle blossom) blooms in summer. The kanji are, literally: “100 days of crimson.” The pronunciation “sarusuberi” contains a reference to the tree: saru is 'monkey,' and “to slip” is suberu. The trunk of this tree is so slippery that even a monkey cannot climb it.

 

 

 

 

号泣の男を曳いて此岸まで

ごうきゅうのおとこをひいてこのきしまで

gkyno otoko o hiite shigan made

 

tugging a wailing man

just to the riverbank edge

of this world

 

 

此岸 shigan (riverbank) has the additional Buddhist connotation of 'crossing over' whether it be of death, or enlightenment.

 

 

 

 

きみ恋わむ式部納言のとして

きみこわんしきぶなごんのすえとして

kimi kowan shikibu-nagon no su-e to shite

 

I'll love you as a descendant of Shikibu & Shonagon

 

 

1) kowamu is an ancient, traditional verb for “love, solicitation, to pray for, desire‑in-solitude, etc.” (the verb has a complex nuance); in modern Japanese the pronunciation is “kowan.”

 

2) shikibu-nagon is a concatenation of three famed women‑poets of the Heian Court: Murasaki Shikibu (9731014CE (poss. 1025), author of the Tales of Genji [Genji monogatari]); Izumi Shikibu (a.k.a. Lady Izumi, circa 976CE?), whose notable works are contained in the Imperial Authorized Anthologies of Poems, Shish, Go-Shish, and her poetic diary, The Diary of Lady Izumi (Izumi Shikibu nikki); last but not least, Sei Shonagon (Lady Seish, 9651010 CE?), author of The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon.

 

3) ('su-e' [pron. “sue-ay”] typ. pron. "ei”) is an ancient kanji, meaning “successor, descendants.”