after Kotaro Takamura

The world sinks, downcast, into night.
Evening, and at Hibiya Park, people gather
Near the edge of the palace bridge,
Smiles masking disquiet hearts.

At the gardens of Matsumotoro,
We share crushed ice and syrup.
The rumors travel in whispers,
Faint, like the sound of a distant bell.

Like Meiji-tennō’s verses,
Silence pierces us, like knives.
But nothing makes sense now,
Not poetry, nor this summer night.

Not this night, veiled in ice like grief,
Grief as cold as silver. Your folding fan,
Inconsequential, falls as you flee. I pick it up.
Outside, by the dark road, you are crying.

But I dare not say what I should.
Outside, the people walking past us
Think it is all about the palace news –
Heartbreaking, heartbreaking

Strangers, passing us by, leaving us
Awash in our own desolation, our sorrow
Swallowed up in theirs, praying
They forgive us these, our secret tears.


  1. This is my latest in my re-imagination of the work of Kotaro Takamura through the sensibilities of a writer who is first a poet.

    My hope is that this effort will complement the translation work done by talented scholars such as Leanne Ogasawara, Paul Archer and John G. Peters, and help introduce Takamura to more readers.

    The Chieko poems trace Kotaro 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.

    Short link - http://bit.ly/s4tears

  2. I love the way this moves with such grace and the resolved voice of the storyteller.

  3. Going to search out more from Takamura

  4. I truly am growing to love this series, Samuel. This one--the image of grief transposed, ice, cold as silver, the dropped fan, the sense that one's emotions are ciphers to others, one's life remains hidden even from those standing next to you--all very evocative. Enjoyed it much.

  5. A sad tale so beautifully told. You have whetted my interest in Takamura. Thanks for that!

  6. so evocative sam...esp toward the end there..the passing by for me, each in their own sorrow but not connected...that kinda stuff breaks my heart honestly...and there are some really great textures through out as well...

  7. Anonymous3:50:00 PM

    This is my favorite part:

    "At the gardens of Matsumotoro,
    We share crushed ice and syrup.
    The rumors travel in whispers,
    Faint, like the sound of a distant bell."

  8. The holy and the profane, the collective and the personal, all seem to come together here, floating on the night air.

  9. Anonymous6:14:00 PM

    A lot of good things in here! Wonderful sounds and sharp sparks of imagery.

  10. Eloquent, quiet with simple images symbolizing grief, universal and personal. Deeply affecting and finely written, sir.

  11. "Heartbreaking, Heartbreaking" - I am being drawn into this compelling albeit tragic love story and find myself wanting more ...


  12. Beautifully done, Samuel. You have a lot of insight, along with your gift for words.
    Thank you for your comment on my post. I had never thought of anyone reading it from the lion's point of view. It shows your innovative way of thinking. I'm impressed.

  13. At the gardens of Matsumotoro,
    We share crushed ice and syrup....i just love this...says everything about the closeness and the losing themselves in each other..and then the ice...the grief...made my heart crumble with pain....love it sam..

  14. beautifully human- a true reflection of emottion and thought. Such is the flow of words and images that the night setting, the gathered people sharing rumours- the individual sadness as well as that of the populate. very moving indeed- thank you for switching me on to this.

  15. "Silence pierces us, like knives.
    ...veiled in ice like grief,
    Grief as cold as silver..."

    Gosh, the descriptive play is fantastic! Very powerful play of words. Great verse, Sam!


  16. Though dramatic and emotional, it has also a restraint which seems to me very Japanese. Writing as someone else, not you, I think you convey that voice very well.

  17. Exquisite, Samuel. Truly. Wouldn't say it if it weren't the truth-- love the couching of secret grief against collective mourning-- finely drawn indeed. xxxj

  18. Very lovely work...I specially like the falling fan and secret tears ~

  19. everyone passing each other in desolation :(
    grim picture you paint

    four animal dedication senryu

  20. What a lovely poem evoking an era that seems to literally float above time. There's a point in the poem where the narration just takes off into another world, like stepping off a dream into another dream but that's even more real than what we feel and see every day. This is excellent story telling and crafted with a refined sense of innate human behaviors that I would argue make communication possible.

  21. Anonymous1:59:00 AM

    I love the intimacy of this and the hiding personal grief inside a public one. Rather like crying in the shower.


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