River of Stars (Amanogawa) (1999) 

 

Part One

 

 

 

Tenor:

 

 

 

the moon is full                              

tsuki wa saerushi

 

the night is very still                      

yo wa shin shin to

 

my heart beats                               

kokoro bososa yo

 

like a bell                                       

kane no koe

 

 

 

                        Trans. By Kenneth Rexroth                 Anonymous

 

 

 

Duplum:

 

 

 

immersed in my hot                       

yuami sura

 

bath, like a lovely lily                    

izumi no soko no

 

growing in a spring                       

sayuri-bana

 

my twenty-year-old body—           

hatachi no natsu o

 

so beautiful, so sublime                 

utsukushi to minu

 

 

 

                        Trans. By Sam Hamill and KeikoYosano Akiko
                        Matsui Gibson  
        

 

 

 

Triplum:

 

 

 

gently, I open the                           

chibusa osae

 

door to eternal                               

shinpi no tobari

 

mystery, the flowers                       

soto kerinu

 

of my breasts, cupped                    

kokonaru hana no

 

offered with both my hands           

kurenai zo koki

 

 

 

                         Trans. By Sam Hamill and Keiko       Yosano Akiko
                         Matsui Gibson   
        

 

 

 

Quadruplum:

 

 

 

tell them                                         

hanshin ni

 

she is enjoying the view                 

usukurenai no

 

 of the moon                                    

usumono no

 

a pink gossamer robe                    

koromo matoite

 

barely covering her body               

tsuki miru to ie

 

 

 

                        Trans. by Makoto Ueda                      Yosano Akiko

 

 

 

Refrain

 

 

 

Tenor:

 

 

 

amidst the notes                              

koto no ne ni

 

 of my koto is another                  

kyosho no oto no

 

deep mysterious tone,                     

uchi majiru

 

 a sound that comes from               

kono ayashisa mo

 

within my own breast                      

mune no hibiki zo

 

 

 

                         Trans. By Kenneth Rexroth                Yosano Akiko

 

 

 

Duplum:

 

 

 

I finger the                                      

erimoto no

 

lace on my collar                             

resu o ijiru

 

until night, when you                      

hanabira o

 

turn over my petals                         

anata ga mekutte kureru yoru made

 

 

 

                        Translated by Leza Lowitz, Miyuki      Hayashi Amari
                        Aoyama, and Akemi Tomioka   

 

 

 

Part Two

 

 

 

 

in bright spring sunshine                

haru no hi o

 

adoring lovers recline                     

koi ni taru yoru

 

against a white wall                        

shira-kaba zo

 

a lonely stranger watches               

uki wa tabi no ko

 

dusk enters the wisteria                  

fuji tasogaruru

 

 

 

Trans. By Sam Hamill and Keiko Yosano Akiko Matsui Gibson

 

 

 

Tenor:

 

 

 

I saw a young girl                           

 orakani

 

naked

kurokise mi sete

 

steering a boat                                

isanayuku

 

across an open sea                          

kami ho no mi no

 

it was only the moon                       

akatsuki tsukiyo

 

of a summer night

 

 

 

 

                        Trans. By Glenn Hughes and               Yosano Akiko
                        Yozan T. Iwasaki

 

 

 

Duplum:

 

 

 

I hold your head tight                     

 anata no atama wo watashi no

 

between my thighs and press          

mata ni shikkari hasami

 

against your mouth and                  

anata no kuchi ni watashio tsuyoku

 

float away forever in                      

oshishitsukeru to, watashi wa

 

an orchid boat                                 

ran no hana no fune ni notte

 

on the river of heaven                     

tokoshie ni tengoku no kawa wo tadayotte yuku

 

 

 

                        Trans. By Kenneth Rexroth                 Marichiko

 

 

 

Triplum:

 

 

 

the peony in her hair                       

kasashitaru

 

flared up, setting the ocean on fire

botan hi to nari umi moenu

 

the dream of a woman                    

omoi midaruru

 

whose thoughts are in a frenzy       

hito no ko no yume

 

 

 

                         Trans. By Makoto Ueda                      Yosano Akiko

 

 

 

Quadruplum:

 

 

 

warm wine                                      

kuchi utsusareshi

 

from his mouth                                

nuruki wain ga

 

 to mine                                           

hita hita to

 

lapping against me                          

ware wo kumanaku

 

radiating through me                      

hakkoh saseru

 

 

 

                         Trans. by Leza Lowitz, Miyuki           Matsudaira Meiko  
                        Aoyama, and Akemi Tomioka

 

 

 

Part Three

 

 

 

 

feeling that                                      

 nanitonaku

 

you were waiting for me,                

kimi ni mataruru

 

I went out into the flowering fields

kokochi shite

 

and found -                                     

ideshi hana  no no

 

the new moon                                 

yuzukuyo kana

 

 

 

                        Trans. By Sam Hamill and Keiko        Yosano Akiko 
                        Matsui Gibson

 

 

 

 

the river of stars                            

amanogawa

 

begins to part high                          

soine no toko no

 

in the Milky Way while                   

tobari-goshi ni

 

through the curtains of our bed      

hoshi no wakare o

 

I lied awake and watched              

sukashi miru kana

 

 

 

                        Trans. By Sam Hamill and Keiko       Yosano Akiko  
                        Matsui Gibson

 

 

 

Refrain

 

 

 

Tenor:

 

 

 

the moon is full                              

tsuki wa saerushi

 

the night is very still                       

yo wa shin shin to

 

my heart beats                               

kokoro bososa yo

 

like a bell                                        

kane no koe

 

 

 

                         Trans. By Kenneth Rexroth                Anonymous

 

 

 

Duplum:

 

 

 

amidst the notes                              

koto no ne ni

 

of my koto is another                     

kyosho no oto no

 

deep mysterious tone,                     

uchi majiru

 

a sound that comes from                

kono ayashisa mo

 

within my own breast                      

 mune no hibiki zo

 

 

 

                         Trans. By Kenneth Rexroth                 Yosano Akiko

 

 

  

Special thanks to Toshie Marra, librarian in the East Asian Library at UCLA, for helping to locate the original Japanese texts for several of the poems, and to Chika Kawahara, and Maki Tauchi, for their invaluable help in translating and locating several of the poems.