“Sunset” by Shuntaro Tanikawa

Sunset

By Shuntaro Tanikawa

Sometimes I reread poems I wrote long ago
I don’t ask textbook questions like “what was the author feeling when he wrote this?”
When you write a poem, there is nothing but the feeling of wanting to write a poem
Even if I wrote that I am sad
I know it doesn’t mean that I was sad at the time

It’s difficult to read my own poems critically
I had nearly forgotten them, and while they don’t belong to someone else,
they can’t possibly be mine
How best to take responsibility is utterly lost on me

Sometimes, unawares, I find myself moved by my own poems
Poetry ignites the lyricism that lies hidden within people
You might say it does so brazenly and without shame

I’ve heard that Saul Bellow said one of the most essential purposes of literature
Is to pose ethical questions
But the truth which poetry strives for is different from that of novels
Rather than the progression of time, poems concern themselves with moments

But while rereading my poems I think to myself
I can’t write like this
A day is made up of more than the sunset
I can’t live merely standing there before it
No matter how beautiful it may be

***

Original:

夕焼け
谷川俊太郎

ときどき昔書いた詩を読み返してみることがある
どんな気持ちで書いたのかなんて教科書みたいなことは考えない
詩を書くときは詩を書きたいという気持ちしかないからだ
たとえぼくは悲しいと書いてあっても
そのときぼくが悲しかったわけじゃないのをぼくは知ってる

自分の詩を批評的に読むのはむずかしい
忘れかけていたってそれは他人のものじゃない
かと言ってまったく自分のものでもない
どう責任をとればいいのか宙ぶらりんの妙な気持ちだ

知らず知らずのうちに自分の詩に感動してることがある
詩は人にひそむ抒情を煽る
ほとんど厚顔無恥と言っていいほどに

「文学にとって最も重要な本来の目的のひとつは
道徳的な問題を提起することだ」とソール・ベローは言ってるそうだが
詩が無意識に目指す真理は小説とちがって
連続した時間よりも瞬間に属しているんじゃないか

だが自分の詩を読み返しながら思うことがある
こんなふうに書いちゃいけないと
一日は夕焼けで成り立っているんじゃないから
その前で立ちつくすだけでは生きていけないのだから
それがどんなに美しかろうとも

*****

Note: Ok so the most difficult thing here was actually finding the Saul Bellow quote referred to. In the original it’s shown as a direct quote, but I couldn’t find the original English it must have been based off of, so I just paraphrased it and made it into an indirect quote in my translation. Anyway, hope you enjoyed this week’s post. Thanks as always for reading.

~苦栗鼠

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