Physician, poet, playwright; real name Tada Masao; b. Shizuokoa Prefecture; Professor at Tokyo U.; with Kitahara Hakushu became publishers of Subaru and Okujo Teien(Rooftop Garden). Contributions in Christian and Art History studies. Collections of poetry include "ongs After the Repast(Shokugo no uta)" and "Izumiya the Dyer(Izumiya Somemono-ya)"
『天草組』 / The Amakusa Gang
* ここでは、九州に旅行に出かけた自分たちを、黒船の到来にたとえ、また、 自分らを北国人と呼んでいる。自らを風刺したもの。
Come ye, come all, a Strange-Ship comes,
Ever so black, and likened to a raven.
Oh, silly, the people aboard,
All dressed in black, their hats, and hakama-trousers and all.
On this island where grapes are sweet,
Upon the hills where the fig-trees play.
Whatever they observe, through the telescope they observe,
The skeptical ones, these Northlanders.
* Black Ships(Kurofune) refer to the American steam-powered warships led by Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry which first arrived in Uraga in 1853. In this work, the poet makes a fanciful analogy between his group of friends arriving by ship as tourists to Kyushu. Since Kyushu is the southernmost major island, he calls their group Northlanders as well.
1 熊本県天草は、キリシタン教徒の一揆(1637年の島原の乱)の場所。 長崎県高来(たかき)町も、その近くにある。 2 「勇魚」は鯨の古称（最近ではＣ・Ｗ・ニコルの小説の邦題で知られる）。 ここでは追い込み漁業にかけて、吉井が恋愛の標的(まだ色も熟さ ないような少女たち)を追いつめることを表している。 3 切支丹伴天連の術は、宣教師らが布教するときにもちいた手品の術だが、 これを女性をまどわす吉井勇のプレイボーイぶりを風刺したのだという。
who passed on Jesu's foreign faith.
Entering the port, Heave, Ho!
The grace of them rounding up whalefish2.
To the figtree-island's maidens with chests of
budding-green, ever so firm,
Oh, he's using the conjuring of the Christian padres3,
To teach them the secret ways of love.
1 Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture is the site of the famous Christian peasant uprising of 1637-8. Takai-cho (the poet seems to use a dialect pronunciation) in Nagaski Prefecture is also a nearby town. The shogunate government outlawed Christianity, and secret believers have passed down the faith their own unique ways since they were to them in the 17th century.
2 The antiquated term isana("brave-fish") for the whale is used here. The chasing of the whale and cornering them, a traditional whale-hunt method, but here an analogy for his friend Yoshii "gracefully" cornering his quarry (young ladies like an unripe fruit).
3 The Art of the Christian Padres refers to magic tricks employed by Catholic missionaries to gain converts to their faith.
『食後の唄』 / Songs After the Repast
1 ドイツ語でゴールドヴァッサーという、金粉入りのブランデーがある。ダンチック市(現ポーランド領グダンスク) の名物。
2 日本の藍(タデ科)は、インジゴ(マメ科)とはまったく別の植物だが、 とられる染料は同様のものである。「薄い藍」というのは、もしくは 空色なのかもしれないが、それならば「浅葱(あさぎ)色」と称する。
Eau-de-Vie of Danzig1,
Oh woman, oh you barmaid woman,
Don't touch, lest the powder dust off,
For it's the month of May, the month of May.
(at the Amerikaya-Bar)
1Goldwasser is a type of brandy with bits of gold dust, and a specialty of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland).
2 The ai or Japanese indigo plant (Polygonum family) is unrelated to the indigo plant of India (legume family) but the dyestuff is esentially the same. He could be referring to a cerulean(sky-colored) dyed from ai although that hue is usually called asagi, not "pale ai"
3 kiri or paulownia is a tree that blooms in clusters of pale lilac around May-June. Its light wood (like balsawood) is used for making everything from boxes for food items to kimono chests with drawers.
4Here I used the antiquated spelling samisen to refer to the shamisen, a stringed instrument, outwardly resembling a banjo, and strummed with a large pick called the bachi.
3 酒どころの灘は、神戸の近辺にある。 <
The galleon lowers its rigs down.
"Tug, ho!" the captain yells,
"Let 'er go!" he yells.
On the fifth of May, the damp river breeze
feels cold to the shoulder's touch.
The oarsman's leisurely strokes on the fast-boat from Yotsume2 .
And on his hanten-jacket, the butterfly alit on the peony
rolls with the motion of waves.
Kikumasamune, the fine sake of Nada3.
1 Ryogoku is the area where the sumo-wrestling arena Kokugikan (mentioned in stanza 2) is located. Yotsume was apparently a district where there used to be a famous peony garden. That is why the oarsman of the fast-boat had a peony printed on his jacket.
2 Nada is one of the major sake brewing areas, just outside Kobe.
BREAK OF SUMMER IN THE STREETS
Swoops down just short of grazing ground.
At long last, a summertime number is first up:
A crimson tie, the first swallow.
1 Zai, Tôzai is a phrase that's pronounced at the opening of the curtain. It literally means "west, east-west."
2 What the poet calls "Gidaifu-bushi" is usually called "Gidayû-bushi", and it is a sort of chant or singing type of storytelling, and is a branch of the jôruri theater. In particular, these are the types performed by women. Shogiku and Shonosuke were sisters, and hence "stage blossoms."
3 hitta is a type of shibori(tie-dye) technique. (The poet calls it hikita which is irregular.)
-- dedicated to the owner of Maison Kônosu
On a winter night, the stillness of
A pot simmering over stove.
My face is shot with warm tingles.
A hallucination? Or a trick-of-the-ear,
When I stare at what's left of the sherry
and here distant voices of people,
and even distant sobs of people?
"Er, y...es, wha...at's...go-
ing on, wh...a..."
Could it be the voice of Roshô?
At the yosé [story-telling] performance in Kyoto last spring...
And the sobbing of the crowd watching...
Or is it the effects of wine?
Amid the winter night's stillness,
The sherry wine's pelucid red.
Is that Roshô speaking?
Or might it be the effects of wine?
Parging the curtains aside, I see out
On a starry night over Koamichô's piers,
A lone boat... softly splashes against water.
1 Roshô Toyotake, a female gidayû performer in Nagoya.
2 Koamichô is located in the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo.