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Sunday, 23 January 2011

Meditations in Winter: Shiki: Winter River


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File:Prut River in Winter.jpg

Prut River, boundary between Romania and Moldova, near Leuceni-Albita
: photo by Cezar Suceveanu, 2010



The body of a dog
Thrown away
In the winter river.




File:Prut River in Winter1.jpg

Prut River, boundary between Romania and Moldova, near Leuceni-Albita
: photo by Cezar Suceveanu, 2010

The body of a dog: Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), translated by Reginald Horace Blyth

3 comments:

TC said...

Somebody says, "Nobody wants to comment on dead dogs, it's too grim."

It's perhaps for this reason a space was created in the many mansions of poetry for Shiki (who died of t.b. at 35, so can hardly be accused of unfounded pessimism).

"This is a sight everyone has seen," comments the translator, R.H. Blyth. "Small boys pelt it with stones as it comes floating down, distended with gas. Women and girls say 'Poor thing!' and mean very little; other people avert their eyes and pretend they have seen nothing. But in the river of our minds, dead dogs are always floating down, their sightless eyes staring at us. These things cannot be overlooked; we and they are all floating in the same river, and from the disintegration and wreckage of their lives and ours, new forms arise, to gladden the hearts of new worlds of men. There is no pathos or sympathy for animals in this verse. The dead body of the dog brings out the nature of a river in its carrying along with it anything that may be thrown in, just as a mirror reflects all things without fear or favour; and the nature of a winter river especially, in its emphasis on death and desolation. There is no love or loveliness, only a narrow current of cold waters between wide banks of stones and gravel."

Michal Kreski said...

strange: i thought, who has commented on this?

and then: what do i say?

TC said...

Yes, looking at this again I too see... silence.