The Modern Fable by Junzaburo Nishiwaki



I’d like to talk about copses
but while I sat on a log with mushrooms growing on it and was thinking
it was already time to put apples and chestnuts
in the basket with the wheat ears, roses, and violets.
The people with hedges around them have begun in their gardens
to polish gourds for divine liquor.


The bonze’s season has come.
A bonze of what country was it
who discovered the fragrance of narcissus?
What’s beautiful is not so much a naked goddess
as the way a naked tree twists,
the season of crystals and roots that form in black earth.
A man sticks his hand out of a yellow bamboo grove
and takes gems, the seeds of vines.
An oak like a broken harp
hangs a tress of green hair.
There’s neither bee nor woman to play lonely spring.
The human being still remains among the brambles
squatting, thinking.


When I listen to the earth
that opens at daybreak
the heart returns that pursues
lost nostalgic dreams.
Ah again lured by man’s
abysmal wandering
footsteps I
roam in the shadow of an old tower
cast on the wall of my hometown
and drink fresh dew in a cherry wine cup.
Mountain glitter–
cloud asura’s
dawn prayers.

some of my favorite shorter poems from Hiroaki Sato’s translation  of Nishiwaki Junzaburo’s The Modern Fable



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