Two By Night

after Kotaro Takamura

The end, when it comes for us, will be by famine:
The night rained soft this sleet-rune divination on the snow.

Undaunted, you hold fast your medieval resolution:
Not famine, no; you’d rather be consumed by fire.

Silently, we listen for the rain’s riposte.
The wind rises, scrawling rose-branch portents on the glass.


  1. Since my introduction to Kotaro Takamura and the Chieko poems by the wonderful translations of Leanne Ogasawara, I have discovered the translations of Paul Archer and John G. Peters.

    Reading these works convince me even more of the value of an attempt to interpret Takamura's work through the sensibilities of a writer who is first and foremost a poet.

    The Chieko 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.

  2. So lovely...I of course think of Frost's end of the world predictions.

  3. Glad you caught the allusion to Frost! Fire and ice, which would suffice... In my rendition I tried to somehow highlight that dichotomy more than in other translations, and the fact you got it makes me very happy!

    Also tried to incorporate Eliot's bang and whimper in this, but those versions strayed too far from the original Japanese intent.

  4. Short link -

  5. This is exquisite and daring in more deeply engraving your meaning with a sophistication of language-- fabulous! xxxj


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