One of the Days Before Eventually Returning to the Soil

Naoko over at The Lost Notebook Returns recently translated this poem by Tanikawa Shuntaro and we had a discussion about the title, which is quite difficult to translate. After putting so much thought into just the title, I thought I might as well have a try at translating the whole poem myself. This is the result. Please have a look at Naoko’s version too. And thanks as always for reading
~苦栗鼠

One of the Days Before Eventually Returning to the Soil

Two friends came over, we drank and jabbered until half past three
Thinking I’d go to bed, I looked outside while pissing
and saw it was already light out, the birds had begun to chirp
It’s been a while since I last ended a day like this

I wanted to write in my journal, but I was too sleepy
Deciding which events of the day to write about
and which not to write about is always hard
There isn’t a single thing I couldn’t live without writing down
and yet if I don’t write something I feel uneasy–why is that?

After pissing I sleep five hours, forget all my dreams,
wake up and write this poem instead of my journal
Oh yeah, I remember now–one of my friends was drunk
and kept insisting he respects but does not love his wife
while the other tried to name five writers he dislikes, but could barely think of three–
all this as we ate cherries from an indigo bowl

It’s hard to believe a day ended like that, but you must
because what was left (as well as that lost) was not only words

Poems are not able to be more than words
It is only humans that are able to be more than words
Last night I laughed so much tears came to my eyes
but why was I laughing?–today I’ve utterly forgotten

Original:

いつか土に帰るまでの一日
(『世間知ラズ』より 1993)

谷川俊太郎

二人友達が来て三時半まで飲んでしゃべっていった
寝ようと思って小便しながら外を見たら
外はもう明るく小鳥が鳴き始めていた
こういう一日の終わりかたは久しぶりだ

日記を書きたかったが眠くて書けなかった
一日の出来事のうちのどれを書き
どれを書かないかという判断はいつもむずかしい
書かずにいられないことは何ひとつないのに
何も書かずにいると落ち着かないのは何故だろう

小便してからぼくは五時間ほど眠り 夢はすべて忘れ
起きてこうして日記の代わりに詩を書く
そうだ思い出した 友達のひとりは酔って
妻を尊敬しているが愛してはいないと繰り返し主張し
もうひとりは嫌いな作家の名を五人あげようとして三人しかあげられず
みんなで藍色のガラス鉢から桜んぼを食べた

一日はそうして終わったのだと信じがたいがそうはいかない
残ったのは(そして失ったものも)言葉だけじゃないから

詩は言葉を超えることができない
言葉を超えることができるのは人間だけ
ゆうべぼくは涙が出るほど笑ったが
笑った理由を今日はきれいさっぱり忘れている

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