Three poems by Gan Tanigawa

Gan Tanigawa’s poetry is mysterious and haunting. I worked on a few translations of some of my favorite poems by him, doing my best to preserve the stylistic quirks (and meaning/effect over exact words) from Japanese to English. Enjoy!

谷川雁の三つの詩

Three poems by Gan Tanigawa

Translated by Eric Margolis

十四歳

はなびらのにがさを
だれがしってるの
ぴかぴかのとうだい
はだしでのぼったよ
かぜをたべた
からっぽになった
わたしいま十四
うみよりあおい
はなびらのにがさを
だれがしってるの
だれが

Fourteen

who knows the bitterness of flower petals

I ascended the glittering lighthouse barefoot

I ate the wind

I became hollow

and now I am fourteen

and bluer than the sea

who knows the bitterness of flower petals

who knows

 

 

 

薔薇のゆくえ

ばらは さだめ しり
かぜと でかけ た
まちも むらも ない
いしの あれの で
ばらは かたち とけ
うたに なった よ

うたは かおり すい
つばさ ひろげ た
ほしも みずも ない
いわの はざま で
うたは くだけ ちり
ゆきに なった よ

The Whereabouts of the Rose

the rose   knows   its fate

is to vanish   like the wind

at a desolate   wilderness   of stone

its body   becomes   undone

it becomes   a song

 

breathing   the scent   of the song

that spreads   the wings   of the stars

at a starless   desert   gorge

the song   smashes   to dust

it becomes   snow

 

 

傘もなく

傘もなく雨 午後の店 雨
つめたい 首すじ
百合を買うのは いまを売ること
この手の くぼみに しずくをためよう
靴にしむ雨
葉書の 一文字
ながれうかび消えて

傘もなく雨 鳩のむれ 雨
ひとの名 ぬれてゆく
霧を買うのは 影を売ること
めがねの くもりを そのまま あるこう
泥と襤褸 雨
この世は ただよう
うすみどりの波に

Without an Umbrella

Rain without an umbrella, a shop in the afternoon, rain

Chills the back of my neck,

I buy lilies and sell this moment.

The palm of my hand gathers water drops

And the rain fills my shoes.

On the postcard, a single word

Rising to the surface and vanishing

 

Rain without an umbrella, a flock of pigeons, rain

Goes on soaking my name,

I buy fog and sell my shadow.

My glasses are clouded and I walk as is:

Mud and rags and rain.

This world drifts

On pale green waves.

 

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