Ryuichi Tamura--Japanese


Ryuichi Tamura
(1923-    )


Tamura is regarded as one of the most important poets of the Second World War era.  Having served in the Japanese navy, Tamura felt that it was the responsibility of poets to help create a new approach to poetry for a new era.  After the war, Tamura helped begin a poetry magazine, The Waste Land.  It was through this publication that a new foundation for post-WWII poetry was laid.  The poets who contributed to this initial effort were dubbed “the Waste Land Poets.”  The work of these writers was especially influenced by T.S. Eliot, Steven Spender, C. Day Lewis and W.H. Auden.  His first book of poems, Four Thousand Days and Nights was published in 1956.  Tamura has composed over twenty volumes of poetry.  He died in 1998.

On My Way Home

I should never have learned words
how much better off I’d be
if I lived in a world
where meanings didn’t matter,
the world with no words

If beautiful words take revenge against you
it’s none of my concern
If quiet meanings make you bleed
it also is none of my concern

The tears in your gentle eyes
the pain that drips from your silent tongue –
I’d simply gaze at them and walk away
if our world had no words

In your tears
is there meaning like the core of a fruit?
In a drop of your blood
is there a shimmering resonance of the evening glow
of this world’s sunset?

I should never have learned words
Simply because I know Japanese and bits of a foreign tongue
I stand still inside your tears
I come back alone into your blood 


Withered Leaves


they died       without even shedding green             



before they return to the soil             

they change to the color of soil             

the color of             

the silence that has died one death             


why does everything             

seem transparent       even though we walked endlessly             

through the border       of day and night             

through the withered leaves             


a man             

whose star is fixed             

does not turn back     


Four Thousand Days and Nights


In order for a single poem to come into existence,
you and I have to kill,
have to kill many things,
many lovable things, kill by shooting, kill by assassination,
kill by poisoning.


Look !

Out of the sky of four thousand days and nights,
just because we wanted the trembling tongue of one small bird,
four thousand nights of silence and four thousand days of counter light
you and I killed by shooting.


Out of all the cities of falling rain, smelting furnaces,
midsummer harbors, and coal mines,
just because we needed the tears of a single hungry child
four thousand clays of love and four thousand nights of compassion
you and I killed by assassination.


Just because we wanted the fear of one vagrant dog
who could see the things you and I couldn't see with our eyes
and could hear the things you and I couldn't hear with our ears,
four thousand nights of imagination and four thousand days of chilling recollection
you and I killed by poison.

In order for a single poem to come
you and I have to kill beloved things.
This is the only way to bring back the dead to life.
You and I have to follow that way.