I’m getting tired of the Tsukuru translation (it’s a lot of work and I’m not sure how much more of it I will be doing), so I decided to try and translate a poem by my favorite contemporary Japanese poet, Shuntaro Tanikawa. I hope you enjoy. Anyone reading who knows Japanese, feel free to make any suggestions! I’ve actually never translated modern poetry, so it’s been remarkably difficult.
By Shuntaro Tanikawa
I lost an utterly trivial item.
Nothing that would trouble me greatly not to have
nor something I associate with fond memories.
The corner store sells them should I want a replacement,
but, just the fact that it’s no longer there
has turned all the drawers into eternal labyrinths
that I’ve already wandered for three hours or so.
At my wit’s end, I retreat to the garden and look up to the evening sky
where near the eaves the first star has begun to shine.
What am I living for?
This quite unrelated doubt floats to mind.
It’s been many decades since I considered it,
but surely there was never a satisfactory answer.
At least I can search for that item thoroughly, throw my clothes into disarray again—
thus I muster the courage to go back indoors and it strikes me–
will all my familiar household items perish in the thin veil of darkness?
Acknowledgements: A special thanks to Terry for giving me some comments and chatting with me about whether or not to use punctuation. I opted ultimately for naturalizing the English to make it more readable, and thus I have used punctuation.