Winter Night Rain

translated by Christian Nagle

 

Throughout the black winter night
it rained heavily.
Awful withered daikon thrown out in the twilight—
that was how things should have been,
and now throughout the black winter
night it rains heavily.
I even hear the voices of girls who have died—
aé, ao, aé, ao, éo, aéo, éo!
Floating around in that rain
they melted without notice, those milky ice packs…
And now throughout the black winter
night it rains heavily,
and my mother’s obijime
is also swept away by rainwater, ruined,
and all those human mercies—
were they only tangerine-colored in the end?…

 


 

冬の雨の夜

冬の黒い夜をこめて
どしやぶりの雨が降つてゐた。
――夕明下に投げいだされた、萎れ大根の陰惨さ、
あれはまだしも結構だつた――
今や黒い冬の夜をこめ
どしやぶりの雨が降つてゐる。
亡き乙女達の声さへがして
aé, ao, aé, ao, éo, aéo, éo!
その雨の中を漂ひながら
いつだか消えてなくなつた、あの乳白のたち……
今や黒い冬の夜をこめ
どしやぶりの雨が降つてゐて、
わが母上の帯締めも
雨水に流れ、潰れてしまひ、
人の情けのかずかずも
竟に蜜柑の色のみだつた? ……

 


daikon: giant radish
obijime: belt for a kimono

Front page image by Ryan Vaarsi.

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Chuya Nakahara

About the Author

Chuya Nakahara (1907–1937) was a Japanese early modernist whose mastery of formal verse (waka) combined with a competency in French to provide for his hybrid evolution. A translator of the Symbolists and Surrealists, he is admired today as one of the most scrupulous pre-war Japanese writers of poems informed by European models. Although Chuya died in obscurity, more criticism has now been written on him than any other Japanese poet. Christian Nagle, the translator, has published or has forthcoming poetry, essays, translations, interviews and prose fiction in Esquire, The Paris Review, Raritan, Southwest Review, New England Review, Antioch Review, Measure, The Literary Review, Kyoto Journal, Quick Fiction, and many other magazines. For more than a decade he has lived in Tokyo, translating the works of Chuya Nakahara.
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