To be in Love by Shuntaro Tanikawa

This post was inspired by a fellow translator named Naoko, the author of The Lost Notebook Returns, who commented on my first Tanikawa post from way back in August. She is amazingly translating into her second language, English, which is something I wouldn’t be able to do with Japanese (it frightens me just to think about it).

One of the most difficult things with this poem was the backwards grammar (ie, in the original everything from ならんですわって to なめたくなっちゃう modifies かんじ at the end of the first stanza, which is difficult to do in English). But there were also other difficulties. There is a certain rhythm to the original which Naoko points out. The lines are indeed nearly equal length by syllable count, but that’s difficult to achieve in English. I tried to pay some attention to line length and to keep the English a little bouncy, because this is a very playful, buoyant sort of poem I think. But I’m not sure how well I did. Please feel free to comment, as always, and thanks for reading!


To Be in Love

By Shuntaro Tanikawa

To be in love—how does it feel?
It feels like sitting together gazing spellbound,
thinking even yawns and sneezes are charming,
And finding yourself wanting to lick your love.

To be in love—how does it feel?
It feels like wanting to show it off
But not wanting anyone else to touch it,
So you also want to shut it away somewhere.

To be in love—how does it feel?
Like wanting to give away your most precious plastic model,
And then also your treasured postage stamps,
And to top it all you even add a comic book.





あいしてるって どういうかんじ?
ならんですわって うっとりみつめ
あくびもくしゃみも すてきにみえて
ぺろっとなめたく なっちゃうかんじ

あいしてるって どういうかんじ?
みせびらかして やりたいけれど
だれにもさわって ほしくなくって
どこかへしまって おきたいかんじ

あいしてるって どういうかんじ?
いちばんだいじな ぷらもをあげて
つぎにだいじな きってもあげて
おまけにまんがも つけたいかんじ

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