Diamond by Terayama Shuji (ダイヤモンド / 寺山修司)

I wrote down the word tree (木)
but it looked so pitiful all alone
so I added another tree (木)
and the trees became a forest (林)
When I look at the word lonely (淋)
I know why the trees are crying (涙)
It’s just because when love begins
loneliness comes in

木という字を一つ書きました
一本じゃかわいそうだから と思って
もう一本ならべると
林という字になりました
淋しいという字を じっと見ていると
二本の木が なぜ涙ぐんでいるのか よくわかる
ほんとに愛しはじめたときにだけ
淋しさが訪れるのです

NOTES:

Terayama Shuji (1935-1983) was a poet, playwright and film director.

This poem plays on the words 木 (ki), 林 (hayashi), 淋しい (sabishii) and 涙 (namida). A 木 is a tree, and when you write two of them together, you get the word 林, which means woods or forest. Finally, 淋しい means lonely, and it looks like a 林 next to the left radical of 涙, or tears — so, in other words, it looks like a crying forest. Terayama explains this character by saying that when you bring two trees together love begins, and love is the beginning of loneliness. I decided it was necessary to include the original kanji in the translation to make the wordplay apparent.

Japanese poem and picture of the author found at sanmarie.me.

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