Monday 30 September 2019

Poem Review – “Ame” / “Rain” by Junzaburo Nishiwaki

I just read, twice, for the first time the poem in ModPoPlus by Junzaburo Nishiwaki entitled "Ame" / Rain and wanted to share the effect this had on me.
The obvious striking use of "s"s throughout lending it a soft sound in English produces a sense of being lulled into a glorious oblivion, of being saturated by the sensual sounds of the words seeping deep into one's soul like the warmth of a long bath. I don't think I have been so moved physically by a poem as I was by this one. Languid, lushness, lying in a bed of feathers.
It reminded me of the movies of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky and his use of dream sequences, his long takes, and his use of wind and water, the way he immerses his viewer. I thought Andrew Howen's translation was simply stunning and his explanation of how the Japanese language version works in construction and form most informative.
All in all it left me salivating quietly, secretively, like life hung suspended as its words steadily, insistently penetrated all of me, everything natural and manmade, around me and imaginary, past and present, in a hypnotic reassuring stealth of silence until all that could be heard was a gently murmuring purr of pleasure.

"Ame" ("Rain") Junzaburo Nishiwaki, translated by Andrew Houwen

The south wind brought soft goddesses.
Soaked the bronze statues, soaked the fountains,
soaked the sparrow's wings and golden feathers,
soaked the sea, soaked the sand, soaked the fish.
Quietly soaked the temples, the public baths, and the theatres,
this quiet, soft procession of goddesses
soaked my tongue.
Reproduced from
ModPo Video Discussion

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