poetry friday…thinking of Japan

My heart is breaking for the people of Japan this week.  In their honor, I’m posting works by several Japanese poets today.  These were taken from the book, Voices: Poetry and Art from Around the World, selected by Barbara Brenner, published by the National Geographic Society.

“Snow yet remaining…”

Snow yet remaining
The mountain slopes are misty —
An evening in spring.

by Iö Sogi (1421-1502)
Translated by Donald Keene

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Rain

WINDY WINTER RAIN…
MY SILLY BIG
UMBRELLA
TRIES WALKING BACKWARD

by Shisei-Jo (18th Century?)
Translated by Peter Bielenson

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River

Mother,
Why is the river laughing?

Why, because the sun is tickling the river.

Mother,
Why is the river singing?

Because the skylark praised the river’s voice.

Mother,
Why is the river cold?

It remembers being once loved by the snow.

Mother,
How old is the river?

It’s the same age as the forever young springtime.

Mother,
Why does the river never rest?

Well, you see it’s because the mother sea
is waiting for the river to come home.

by Shuntarö Tanikawa (b. 1931)
Translated by Harold Wright