endless anger by Jikkoku Osamu

i love this angry boy!

  having screamed with all his might
    his mouth bends down into a へ
and the corners of his eyes arch up
  and look this way mysteriously
    i love those eyes like apricot seeds
jutting over his right shoulder
  is a thick sword, held up in his left hand
    is a thin piece of cut rope

spread out behind him is a sea of flame

  this spoiled child puffs out his chest
    and i can see
  both soles of his tiny feet
    through his impudently crossed legs

but i love him, i love him, i love him

you can find images of mischievous children
  in ancient iconography
    spread throughout asia
the mysterious work of NameLess stonecutters!
  carved on the pedestal here:
    died july 7th, 1924, age 9

  the same age as me,
    we were alive at the same time!

on tanabata night
  separated from your mother and father, you
    were confined within
this small boatshaped stone
  when i was in another country
    passing through flames
you were standing on the bend
  of this hill road
    listening to the wind in the pines
black birds flying behind you
  when flames were rising
    over our hometown —

your sword smashes people’s
  endless desire
    your rope releases slaves
unties sects
  to search for true freedom
    humanity’s prayer

this big dream was left
  in your little hands
    but you will never forgive
the mad dance of the adults
  who kill and are killed, who deprive and are deprived
    puppets in the shadow of their god mammon

  beirut, khorramshahr
  warsaw, kabul, phnom penh
  saigon, nanjing, hiroshima
    and our very own takamatsu
    All Utterly Demolished

i’ve come from far away
  to stand here before you
    and i can’t count the times
i’ve let out a laugh
  because soon
    i will vanish from this earth
but you
  surrounded by moss
  your pupil-less eyes
glaring at everything,
  you will always remain, unmoved

do you know —
  there is a little girl
    standing beside you,
ageless and nameless
  thousand armed goddess of mercy
    nose half broken off
whose hands that were clasped
    at her lovely breasts
    are gone along with those breasts
who is with you, listening
  eyes closed
    to the wind in the pines overhead?

today you can see very clearly,
  beneath the pine branches
    buildings lined up like graves
just beyond our hometown
   the vast black sea.

in the night
  distant altair and vega
    will straight away
descend upon
  both your heads



This is the angry boy (or myouou, 明王) referred to in the poem. It is also the image on the cover of Jikkoku’s 1984 poetry collection Another Experiment, or Counterpoint (「もう一つの実験または対位法」).

Special thanks goes to Yumi Hori, who cleared up several questions I had about the poem. Without her, this translation would not have been possible.

Please see the original Japanese language poem here. Several other Jikkoku poems, some of which I have translated, can also be found there.


2 thoughts on “endless anger by Jikkoku Osamu

  1. I have a habit of reading the originals before the English versions. Sometimes I’ll come across a part and stop to wonder how you handled the translation. This happened at the third line of this poem.

    … Haha, you bastard. My hat’s off.

    • I like that the shape of へ is a way of showing a frown, so I kept it instead of simply saying “his mouth was bent down at the corners” or something. I also will take any opportunity to show the weirdness of his writing (considering his refusal to use kanji). Thanks for stopping by the site. I need to write you a proper response sometime soon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s