Tag: shuntaro tanikawa

Shuntaro Tanikawa, “River” and “Song of March”


Why is the river laughing?

Why, because the sun is ticking the river.

Why is the river singing?

Because the skylark praised the river’s voice.

Why is the river cold?

It remembers being once loved by the snow.

How old is the river?

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

Why does the river never rest?

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

* * *

I go flinging away flowers
everything is budding
in March.

I go flinging away paths
children are scampering about
in March.

I go flinging away song
skylarks are singing
in March.

I go embracing only love
the pain and fear and
you –

Your laughter
in March.

Shuntaro Tanikawa, “Twenty Billion Light Years of Loneliness”


Mankind on a little globe
Sleeps, awakes and works
Wishing at times to be friends with Mars.

Martians on a little globe
Are probably doing something; I don’t know what
(Maybe sleep-sleeping, wear-wearing, or fret-fretting)
While wishing at times to be friends with Earth
This is a fact I’m sure of.

This thing called universal gravitation
Is the power of loneliness pulling together.

The universe is distorted
So all join in desire.

The universe goes on expanding
So all feel uneasy.

At the loneliness of twenty billion light years
Without thinking, I sneezed.

– – –

Oh my. I seem to be quite obsessed with Mr. Tanikawa’s poetry right now. But you just read that, so I’m sure you must be too now. What a beautiful little work of art there. If there’s one thing Japanese poets can do, perhaps better than anyone, it’s jump light-quick between the profound and the absurd so that you hardly notice until you’re laughing your ass off, or crying. Perhaps its because the Japanese poets figured out long ago that the profound and the absurd are the same thing, or on two sides of the same coin at the very least. Consider this: the same Shuntaro Tanikawa who wrote this, and the poem I posted earlier, and whose poems I will continue to post, this Tanikawa also translates Peanuts into Japanese for the newspapers there. Peanuts! Yes! Charles Schultz! Translated by Japan’s most well-read and well-respected poet! I mean, isn’t that just…just beautiful? So profoundly absurd? If you don’t think so, well, then there’s nothing more I can do for you.

Shuntaro Tanikawa, “Evening”


For the sake of night that meets the dead
there remains today a single evening;
in the faint darkness
the neck of a turning girl.

For the sake of tomorrow for the poor
there remains today a single evening;
holding hands
and going home,
children are singing.

– – –

Picked up this book randomly today. Glad I did, for it’s filled with beautiful poems. “Shuntaro Tanikawa is the most popular poet in Japan today, respected by literary critics and general readers alike.” It also has little notes in it, I guess from the original buyer. Little sheets of paper with quotes from the poems they’re stuck next to. But there’s one that reads:

Sadly, my loves,
I could pick few of you
out in a crowd
Lynn in Mankato Mall

Looks like I got some extra poetry with my poetry today!