Chuya Nakahara, translation by Christian Nagle

Spring Sunset (春の日の夕暮)

tin roof snapping like senbei
in a calm spring sunset
underthrown ash turning pale
becomes a quiet spring sunset

ah  is there a scarecrow?  there cannot be
will a horse neigh?  perhaps not even that
is it only to the slimy moon
that a spring sunset is obedient?

boiling field and temple turn crimson
cartwheel in need of oil
if I speak to the historical present
they’d make a fool of me  the sky and mountains

a single roof tile has wandered away
now the spring sunset
without a word will
move on into its venous tube

: rice cracker


呼! 案山子はないか――あるまい
従順なのは 春の日の夕暮か

荷馬車の車輪 油を失ひ
嘲る嘲る 空と山とが

瓦が一枚 はぐれました
無言ながら 前進します
自らの 静脈管の中へです

Chuya Nakahara (1907-1937) was a Japanese early modernist, influenced by both his Meiji-era poetry predecessors and the French Symbolist movement. While largely unread during his short life, his work garnered a critical and commercial following in Japan after World War II and continues to be popular, controversial, and influential to this day. Christian Nagle is a Polish-American writer, musician, and film-maker. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Esquire, The Paris Review, Subtropics, New England Review, Antioch Review, and elsewhere. For more than a decade, he lived in Japan, translating the early modernist Chuya Nakahara.