from The Iceland

Hagiwara Sakutarō


I saw fire burning red
like a beast
you keep silent and do not say.

In the quiet sky over the city in the evening
flames come out beautifully burning
in no time the flow spreads
in an instant destroys everything.
Burns up everything and all
assets, factories, great architecture
hope, honor, wealth and prestige, ambition.

how is it that like a beast
you keep silent and do not say?
Being trapped in sad melancholy
in so quiet a twilight sky
you think of all the passions.

The Tiger

It's a tiger
wide and vague as a giant statue
you sleep in a cage in the uppermost floor of a department store
you are born no machine
you may tear apart and eat meat with your fang-teeth
but how can you know human reasoning?
Behold, under the orb sooty smoke flows
from the roofs of a factory-zone town
sad whistles rise and spread.
It's a tiger
It's a tiger

It's an afternoon
the ad-balloon rises high
in twilight-close city sky 
on this high-rise building sitting in the distance
you are as hungry as a flag.
When you scan vaguely
you make the worms crawling along the streets
your live food dark and depressing.

It's a tiger
on the roof of prosperity in the midst of Tokyo City
where elevators go up and down
wearing an amber striped fur
you suffer solitude like a wasteland.
It's a tiger!
Ah it's all your afterimage
a useless total view of a void.

A Crow of Nihility

I was originally a crow of nihility
on that high roof of winter solstice I'll open my mouth
and roar like a weathervane.
Whether the season has epistemology or not
what I do not have is everything.

translated from the Japanese by Hiroaki Sato

Click here to read an essay on Hagiwara Sakutarō by Hiraoki Sato.

A translation of Hagiwara's book of poems The Iceland is forthcoming in June from New Directions.