Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry
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Winter 2005, vol 3 no 4

Tanka by Kisaburo Konoshima
newly translated by David Callner

This is the first in a series of new translations of selected tanka by
Kisaburo Konoshima (1893 1984).



Now my son goes down a path I took
a burning hell of lust
A man speaks - as solid as a rock
I gaze at him with pity
I do not know if you wake or sleep this moment
perhaps you are alive in the world somewhere


Stretching leafy branches to the sky and taking in the sun
the huge oak tree is a face


One dead - a victim of the May Day disturbances
a soul comes to an end with the news report - one dead
In the river stands two hundred yards of land
its rich thicket looks like jostling
My lamented mother's sigh from a snowy night's hearth
for some reason I remember it still now
At the center of the endless universe
this point where I stand
In the eternal current of time
this moment I live is called "reality"
If I could rage like an atomic explosion
this dejection might go away
追憶の瞼に浮かぶ影像の大方は皆笑顔なるが悲し      (訃報)
The souls that appear in the eye of my memory
are mostly smiling - yet they sadden me        (News of a death)
On these shores seven Indian tribes deliberated over peace
and dared not to wage war *
Wise men and scholars of the United Nations strive
but cannot equal the Indians on the shores of Lake Otsego *
Finding neither excessive fondness nor enlightenment over many an autumn
a single old butterfly I cling to a lump of earth
Any way my soul might play - now laughing now crying
O these are my poems
O my poems - composed then discarded and completely forgotten
the sparks of life - the echoes of a moment
*The Iroquois Indians on the shores of Lake Otsego, New York, where Konoshima and his wife often summered. D.C  

For additional information about the poet Kisaburo Konoshima, see the review "Konoshima's American Diary" by Michael McClintock, in Simply Haiku v3n3, June 2005.

David Callner David Callner was born in 1956. His youth was spent in France, England, Italy, and America. Since 1978 he has lived in Japan. He has written four novels, all as yet unpublished. He teaches English as an adjunct at Nagano University.