Thursday, August 14, 2014

One Man's Maple Moon: Seagulls Tanka by Shuji Terayama

English Original

failing even
to become an actress
I listen to
the sound of seagulls
shot in the winter marsh

Kaleidoscope: Selected Tanka of Shuji Terayama, 2008

Shuji Terayama


Chinese Translation (Traditional)

即使失敗
成為一名女演員
我傾聽
被槍殺在冬天沼澤
海鷗的聲音

Chinese Translation (Simplified)

即使失败
成为一名女演员
我倾听
被枪杀在冬天沼泽
海鸥的声音


Bio Sketch

Born in 1935 in Aomori, Japan, Shuji Terayama started writing tanka when he was in his late teens, and received the Tanka Kenkyu Award for Emerging Poets. He published several tanka collections before he stopped writing tanka around 1970. Many of his tanka read more like a movie scene or a short story. He died in 1983. The first English language collection of his tanka,  Kaleidoscope: Selected Tanka of Shuji Terayama, was published in 2008 and translated by Kozue Uzawa and Amelia Fielden.

2 comments:

  1. Below is an excerpt from Robert D. Wilson's review of "Kaleidoscope: Selected Tanka of Shuji Terayama," which can be accessed at http://simplyhaiku.com/SHv6n3/reviews/Terayama.html

    In some poems, Terrayama portrays the experience of a third person, even though he may use a first person pronoun:

    failing even
    to become an actress
    I listen to
    the sound of seagulls
    shot in the winter marsh

    Birds shot by a gun are a recurring theme in Terayama's tanka. Of course he was no stranger to warfare, living through a war that took the life of his father and thousands of innocent people. In his mythology, it is possible that his references to birds served as a metaphor or code, for human beings, specifically his countrymen. Prior to the end of World War II, one was not at liberty to criticize the actions of the government.

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  2. The upper verse sets the thematic and emotive context while the lower verse enhances the tone and mood of the poem, revealing the speaker's state of mind.

    And "even" adds emotional weight to the poem; it not only implies that the speaker has failed in finding many jobs before, but also indicates that he failed in getting a easy job.



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