Thursday Nov 23

TakahashiMutsuo Takahashi Mutsuo (1937-) is one of Japan’s most prominent living poets. Since first attracting the attention of the Japanese literary world with his bold poetic evocations of homoerotic desire in 1960s, Takahashi has published over three dozen anthologies of poetry and countless volumes of poetry and literary criticism.  Five anthologies of his poetry are available in English translation: Poems of a Penisist (Chicago Review Press, 1975), A Bunch of Keys (The Crossing Press, 1984), Sleeping, Sinning, Falling (New Directions, 1992), Two Shores (Dedalus, 2006), and We of Zipangu (Arc Publications, 2007).  Jeffrey Angles’ translations of his memoirs, Twelve Views from the Distance, will be published by University of Minnesota Press in 2012.  Takahashi presently lives in the seaside city of Zushi, ten kilometers to the south of Yokohama.
 
This poem was first published in Japanese in a special June issue of Gendai shi techo (Handbook of Contemporary Poetry) dedicated to poetic responses to 3.11.
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JeffreyAngles Jeffrey ANGLES (1971- ), the translator of these poems, is an associate professor of Japanese and translation at Western Michigan University.  He is the author of Writing the Love of Boys: Origins of Bishonen Culture in Japanese Modernist Literature (University of Minnesota Press, 2011) and translator of Killing Kanoko: Selected Poems of Ito Hiromi (Action Books, 2009), the award-winning Forest of Eyes: Selected Poems of Tada Chimako (University of California Press, 2010), and numerous other works of prose and poetry.  He also writes poetry in his second language, Japanese.
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Note from the poet about this poem: After Japan’s defeat in World War II, there were a number of poets who drew upon T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, wanting to start again, using the wasteland as a point of departure.  Now, if we are to draw upon their example, and start out again from the wastelands left by the disasters of 3/11, we must recognize that the wasteland is really within ourselves.  In other words, it stems from the spiritual destruction of desire and idleness that has, at some point unbeknownst to us, started growing rampant within us.  Even before we were victims, we were victimizers.  As long as we fail to recognize this, our words will lose their weight and circulate emptily.
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いまここにこれらのことを
高橋睦郎


かの国の四月が最も残酷な月なら
この国の三月はさらに峻烈な月
雪舞う海のそこの断層と断層とを衝突させ
潮流の古い記憶を新しい欲望とかきまぜた
眠りを覚まされた海水は盲目の高波となって
陸(くが)を目がけて幾重にも押し寄せた
残されたのは夥しい瓦礫と悲しみの山
私たちは夢うつつにくりかえし見せられた
 
 
三月の黒い波が襲ったのは
昔ながらの日常だけではない
厳重に閉じこめられた矮神(ちいさがみ)が突如囲いを出され
みるみる天地を満たす大魔神に膨張した
人びとは集落ごろ流亡(るぼう)を始めた
流亡するのは一つの村
一つの町だけではない
国全体いや全世界が
終わりのない漂流記に入った
 
 
雨が来た
(雨まじりの雪 雪まじりの雨)
雨が降る
(雨は瓦礫を洗い死者たちを慰めるか)
雨が降る
(雨は流亡する人びとを労わり遺棄された田畑を愛撫するか)
雨が降る
(雨は炎上する原子炉を冷やし暴れる原子核を宥めるか)
雨が降る
(雨は希望であるか重なる厄災なのか)
雨が降る
(壊れた陸に降る病んだ海に降りつづける)
 
 
思いをひそめよう原子力とは何だったのか
母なる自然の子なる人間への窮極の贈りものか
子が母を襲い孕ませて引きずり出した水子ではないのか
呪われた鬼子を牢に閉じこめ強制して働かせつづけ
力尽きると生き埋めにしてきたのが事実ではないのか
埋められた生殺しの屍体がいつか息を吹き返し
復讐する不安と恐怖とを封印してきたのが真相ではないのか
いま秘密の襞襞が発かれようとしている
 
 
雨が上がり天に虹の大弓が掛かる
約束の美しい虹ではなく宣告の恐ろしい虹
〈畸形の魚たちが歯を剥いて波打ちぎわに殺到し
〈病気の果実が血を滲ませて地に落ちつづける
〈風はふんだんな毒を含んでの湿って重たく
〈光が無数の針となって執拗に襲いかかる
〈すべての内蔵は私たちの裡で叛乱を起こし
〈脳髄は発熱し煮えたぎって熔解する
私たちは窓を閉じ硝子に覆い布を垂らす
けれどもいったん網膜に焼きついた色の氾濫は
目をつぶってもこすっても消えることがない
 
 
テレヴィを点けっぱなしで見つづける
新聞を隅から隅までくりかえし読む
安全な野菜をインターネットで捜しまくり
無害な水を求めて電話をかけまくる
私たちはマスクとサングラスで武装した傍観者か
私たちもまた被害者であり漂流者
家という方舟(はこぶね)ごと漂いつづけ
漂されつづけて目的地を知らない受難者
 
 
受難者を癒してくれるのは外ならぬ受難ということ
運命の理不尽を訴えてシャツの胸元を引き裂き
摂理の不公平に抗議して涙を流しつづける
嘆きの声がつまるところ嘆く者を慰め
流す涙がとどのつまり泣く者を浄める
けれども私たちは慰まない浄まらない
なぜなら私たちの嗟嘆と抗議の終(つい)の相手は
私たち自身であり私たちの強欲と怠惰そのものだから
私たちは簡単に慰められてはならないだろう
たわやすく浄められてはならないだろう
私たちは蔑まれつづけ打たれつづけなければならないだろう
 
 
幸なるかなそれでもなお耳を澄ますべきもの
目を向けるべきものが私たちには残されてある
波にさらわれた無数の死者たちの無言
不自由に耐える膨大な漂亡者たちの沈黙
加えるに無為から立ちあがった若者たちの眩しさ
その眩しさを支えているのは死者たち漂亡者たちの只ならぬ静けさ
私たちが学ばなければならないのは彼らの無名・彼らの無償
 
 
私はいまここにこれらのことを書き記す
書き記す私は特定の誰かであってはならないだろう
名前も個性も持たない者でなければならないだろう
顔のない目であり目に直結した手である者
手は闇の中で書き記すすべを憶えなければならないだろう
目は希望でも絶望でもなく真実を瞶(みつ)めなければならないだろう
 
 
 

These Things Here and Now


If April is the cruelest month in that country
Then March was even unrelenting in this country
As the snow danced on top the sea
It crashed one layer of seabed into another
Mixing new desires into the ancient memories of tide
Seawater, awakened from slumber, grew into great waves
Took aim at the land, and descended again and again
Leaving vast quantities of debris and mountains of sadness
We watched this over and over as we wandered the line
Between dream and wakefulness
 
 
*
 
It was not just daily life as it once was
That the black wave of March assaulted
The Dwarf God imprisoned under tight control suddenly escaped
Swelled before our eyes into Daimajin, filling heaven and earth
People set adrift whole settlements at a time
Not just one village, not just one town
But an entire country, no, the entire world
Entered into an endless
Era of drift
 
*
 
The rain came
(Rain mixing with snow, snow mixing with rain)
The rain falls
(Will the rain bathing the rubble soothe the dead?)
The rain falls
(Will the rain cool the blazing reactor and pacify the nucleus?)
The rain falls
(Does the rain represent hope or yet another disaster?)
The rain falls
(The rain continues to fall on the broken land and sickly sea)
 
*
 
Let us collect our thoughts, what is nuclear power?
Mother Nature’s greatest gift to humanity, or rather,
The miscarriage after the child rapes and impregnates its own mother?
Isn’t it true that we shut a demon in a cage and forced it to work
Then when its power was gone, we had it buried alive?
Isn’t it true that the buried, anguished corpse has regained its breath
And has returned, harboring its anxiety and fear for revenge?
Now is the time it reveals its secrets tucked away
 
*
 
The rain lets up and a great rainbow hangs in the sky
Not the rainbow of promise, but terrifying rainbow of our sentencing
Deformed fish will lose their teeth and flood our shores
Sick fruit, smeared with blood, will fall on our land
The wind, carrying abundant poison, will grow wet and heavy
The light will turn into countless needles and attack us persistently
All of our organs will rise in revolt inside
Our brains will burn with fever, broil, and melt
We close our windows and cover the glass with cloths
But the flood of color that has burned its way into our membranes
Does not disappear, even when we close and rub our eyes
 
*
 
We leave the televisions on and watch
We read and reread the newspapers from top to bottom
We scour the internet for unpoisoned vegetables
We call all over looking for undamaged water
Are we onlookers disguised in our masks and sunglasses?
If so, we are also victims and wanderers
We float along in the arks of our homes
Sufferers who float along continuously
Not knowing our destination
 
*
 
What heals the sufferer is only more suffering
We rail against the outrageousness of fate and tear at our shirts
We protest against the unfairness of providence and weep continuously
When cries catch in the throat, they comfort the lamenter
The flow of tears eventually purifies the one who weeps
But we are not comforted, we are not purified
The reason is that our grievances and protests
Are finally against ourselves, our avarice, and our idleness
We cannot be easily comforted
We cannot be easily purified
We must be scorned over and over
We must be beaten over and over again
 
*
 
Will we be fortunate?  If so, we must prick up our ears all the more
We must turn our eyes to what has remained
The mute words of the countless dead snatched by the waves
The silence of the swelling numbers of displaced withstanding privation
And the brilliance of the youth who have stood up from inaction
Supporting them is none other than the silence of the dead and displaced
What we must learn is their anonymity, their gracious unconditionality
 
*
 
I write these things here and now
It does not matter that I, the author, am anyone in particular
I am a person without name and without individuality
A person with eyes but without a face, with hands tied directly to sight
Hands that must remember how to write in the darkness
Eyes that must see neither hope nor disappointment, only truth
 
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Translator’s Notes:
Daimajin: Literally “the god who brings great trouble”