Monday, May 26, 2014

Cool Announcement: Memorial Day Gift, The Prism of Mokichi

I received a precious gift from Aya Yuhki, the editor of The Tanka Journal. It's a copy of The Prism of Mokichi translated by Fusako Kitamura, Reiko Nakagawa and Aya Yuhki and published in 2013, which was to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of Mokichi Saito's collection of tanka, Shakko (Red Lights: selected tanka sequences from Shakko, translated from the Japanese with an introduction and notes by Seishi Shinoda and Sanford Goldstein, Purdue University Press,1989), a book that "created a great impression not only on tanka poets but on the literary world in general"(Donald Keene,  Dawn to the West: Japanese Literature of the the Modern Era - Poetry, Drama, Criticism, p.61)

From this well-crafted collection of 150 tanka, I chose the following tanka structured into a rensaku (poem sequence, a poetic form for which Mokichi Saito is best known) to commemorate this Memorial Day with our American poets/readers:

the days of our country
in defeat,
where does this longing
come from?

a year has passed
since the end of the war --
living longer
I fear the world,
and death, too

I'm not sure
about my remaining years,
going upstairs
and sleeping
even in the daytime

coming to
a bombed place
I feel pity
for the simplicity
of karatachi flower

do lament
when you fly in the sky
above this country --
geese heading south
on a rainy evening

a demobilized soldier's story,
spoken in a low voice,
came to the end
before I added wood
to the fire outdoors

1 comment:

  1. Below is excerpted from the Wikipedia entry, titled Memorial Day:

    Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the men and women who died while serving in the country's armed forces.[1] The holiday, which is celebrated every year on the last Monday of May,[2] was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war. By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.[1] It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

    Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.