after Kotaro Takamura

No, let us not stir the calm
Of these waters, nor fling in any stone.
Even one drop, trembling,
Disperses a thousand ripples.
Cherish this quiet,
This peace.

No, let us not speak a word,
Not one more word.
Even one whisper, trembling,
Unleashes a quiver of treachery,
Fissured lightning,
A wildfire.

Woman, ambitious, independent; still, woman:
You are this moon, sultrous in an indigo sky,
A moon that ushers wakefulness into dream,
That renders this moment, as it must be, timeless.
Suffer this dream to remain, this moment to stay.

More than that, no, never
Ripple these luminous waters.

This peace is precious,
Blood-ransomed. Unimaginable,
The measure of that barter.
This peace breathes life, divinity,
That may stir into indignation
At a summer night’s pang.
Do we dare disturb the universe?

No, never. Cherish this quiet
Or be ourselves resolved
When ripples, stone-swept,
Hasten into waves, overwhelm us,
Whirling us in the undertow.

Woman, to endure this, how far into
The heart should we reach?
And could we?
No answer.

But – see that oil-stained railway station,
wrapped in yellow smoke? How moonlight
Transforms it, into a shimmering,
Jewelled pavilion. Signal lamps
Slow down trains and send them off,
In hues of ruby and jade.

Thus your moonlight fills me
Wondrous, suffuses me
In a mysterious cascade.
Balanced on this precipice,
My soul reaches further, further,
All essence visible and infinitely

Embrace, then, vastness;
Render me speechless

Leave this peace unruffled,
These waters unstirred,
This stone unflung.


  1. This is the latest in my attempt to interpret the work of Kotaro Takamura through the sensibilities of a writer who is first a poet.

    Adapting this poem was particularly difficult, as the original relies less on imagery, and has a somewhat more chauvinistic tone, than other poems in the Chieko series.

    However, my hope, as always, is that this effort will complement the translation work done by talented scholars such as Leanne Ogasawara, Paul Archer and John G. Peters, as well as 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/s4disquiet

  2. This is beautiful in a host of ways-- powerful imagery and lyricism. xxxj give us a visit soon--xxxj

  3. Powerful poem well written.
    Thanks for correcting me!I have done the corrections ...cheers!

  4. Anonymous10:03:00 AM

    It has a beautiful flow that is almost tangible. Happy you stopped by my place so I got the chance to come visit yours :)

  5. Anonymous9:22:00 PM

    wow, thank you posting this. a beautiful read penned by a true poet.

  6. "Thus your moonlight fills me
    Wondrous, suffuses me..." sigh. <3

  7. I came back to this-- it is truly brilliant, Samuel. I discovered in Plath's Fever 103 yesterday a reference to yellow smoke, and then we have it in Prufrock, I think. I wonder about this and what it might stand in for in the collective psyche. You and I need to be patient-- our ships will come in. xxxj


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