Sunset by Yoshino Hiroshi (夕焼け / 吉野弘)

As usual
the train was crowded.
And
as usual
young men and women were sitting
and old people were standing.
A girl who was looking down stood up
and gave her seat to an old person.
The old person quickly sat down.
Without so much as a nod, the old person got off at the next station.
The girl sat down.
Another old person was pushed aside
right in front of the girl.
She looked down.
But
standing
again
she gave her seat to the old person.
At the next station the old person said thank you and got off.
The girl sat down.
And again just like before
another old person was pushed
in front of the girl.
The poor thing
just looked down
and this time she didn’t get up from her seat.
At the next station
and the next station
she tightly bit her lower lip
her body stiff as a post. —
I got off the train.
I wonder how far she went
looking down all rigid.
The people with the kindest hearts
no matter when or where they’re from
always become martyrs without thinking about it.
It’s because
people with the kindest hearts
feel
the pain of others like their own pain.
I wonder how far that girl went
tortured by her own kind heart.
Biting her lower lip
feeling miserable
not looking up at the beautiful sunset.

* * *

いつものことだが
電車は満員だった。
そして
いつものことだが
若者と娘が腰をおろし
としよりが立っていた。
うつむいていた娘が立って
としよりに席をゆずった。
そそくさととしよりが坐った。
礼も言わずにとしよりは次の駅で降りた。
娘は坐った。
別のとしよりが娘の前に
横あいから押されてきた。
娘はうつむいた。
しかし
又立って
席を
そのとしよりにゆずった。
としよりは次の駅で礼を言って降りた。
娘は坐った。
二度あることは と言う通り
別のとしよりが娘の前に
押し出された。
可哀想に
娘はうつむいて
そして今度は席を立たなかった。
次の駅も
次の駅も
下唇をキュッと噛んで
身体をこわばらせて――。
僕は電車を降りた。
固くなってうつむいて
娘はどこまで行ったろう。
やさしい心の持主は
いつでもどこでも
われにもあらず受難者となる。
何故って
やさしい心の持主は
他人のつらさを自分のつらさのように
感じるから。
やさしい心に責められながら
娘はどこまでゆけるだろう。
下唇を噛んで
つらい気持ちで
美しい夕焼けも見ないで。

4 thoughts on “Sunset by Yoshino Hiroshi (夕焼け / 吉野弘)

  1. It would be very hard for me to grasp the significance of this situation, had I never ridden a train in Japan. Your translation captures the feeling beautifully. Thanks for sharing.

    Also, this is kind of a lame comment, but I like they way you tinkered with “礼も言わずに…” Is that tinkering? I don’t know.

    • I guess it’s tinkering. I thought about simply translating it as, “Without a word of thanks, the old person got off at the next station,” but I wanted to get across that the old person didn’t even really acknowledge the girl, and since 礼 can mean “to bow,” the expression “without so much as a nod” kind of got stuck in my head until I decided to just go with it. (Of course, in the second case, “said thank you” just made more sense.)

      I was actually kind of worried that readers who have never been on a train in Japan might not be able to relate to the poem, but I hoped that the feeling still might get across anyway.

      Thank you for your comment.

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