To a Woman

after Kotaro Takamura

I can’t bear this,
The thought of you
Leaving me.

Unnatural and fathomless,
Like a fruit before the flower,
Like a flower before the seed,
Like a spring after the summer.

I break down
When I think of you,
Your bohemian calligraphy
To such a conservative consort

Who can be as timorous as a nestling, and yet
As headstrong as a hurricane!

I can’t bear this,
The thought of you
Going away.

How can you do this so easily?
How can you – how shall I say this –
Sell yourself this way?
To go from your singular existence,
To espouse the prosaic?
To resign yourself to him?
To absent reason?
Like a Titian
In a rummage sale
At Tsurumaki.

Alone. Destitute.
With what words to express my heart?
This bouquet of gloxinia,
A gift from you, wasting away now
As I, abandoned, waste away.
As a bird traces its migrant path
Across the sky, to disappear.
This sadness overwhelms, desperate.
This empty solitude burns.

Not love.
Bless me,
It is all wrong, wrong,
Yet I don’t know
How to make it right.

To be betrothed.
To be another’s.

I can’t bear this,
The thought of you.


  1. Tubular with triangular grey-green leaves… your trail led me directly to the Gloxina~ Your path continues to pave… wonderful writing Sam!

  2. I am deeply thankful to Leanne Ogasawara, whose wonderful translations introduced me to the poet Kotaro Takamura and the Chieko poems.

    Published in 1941, the poems are a milestone in modern Japanese poetry, and trace Takamura's life with Chieko Naganuma, an iconoclastic woman artist - their attraction, separation, marriage, his coming to terms with her illness and death, and the power of love.

    Addressing the difficulties of translation across metaphorical constructs, my work is an attempt to interpret the various translations through a poet's sensibilities.

    Successful or not, my hope is that my adaptation introduces more readers to Takamura's poetic legacy.

  3. Short link -

  4. Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful work ~

    "Your bohemian calligraphy
    To such a conservative consort
    Beautiful. I understand.

    Peace & Grace, Kat

  5. I really appreciate the wonderful thoughts, thank you!


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