Come see what I’ve found, my very own bones,
that when alive were full of worries,
but now are shorn of their filthy flesh,
washed white by the rain,
sticking out of the ground, my splintered bones.
But they aren’t glistening,
it’s only an illusion of white.
Having soaked in the rain,
been blown about by the wind,
they reflect the sky in fractures.
It’s strange to think that
when they were alive,
these bones sat
in crowded restaurants
and ate boiled honeywort.
Come see what I’ve found, my very own bones —
and yet I’m looking at them? How bizarre.
Was my soul left to linger
so that I could return to my bones
and see them for myself?
Beside the little river in my hometown,
standing in the dead grass,
my bones — and yet I’m looking at them?
They’re as tall as a signpost
my white, white bones, splintered in the ground.
Nakahara Chūya (1907-1937) was a great 20th century Japanese poet. Many of his poems have been translated into English, but it looks like all of the translated volumes of his work are currently out of print.
Folk singer Tomokawa Kazuki, a favorite of mine, has used many of Nakahara Chūya’s poems as song lyrics.