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Selected Tanka


Bokusui Wakayama


A faint morning quake and a subtle foreboding
of a storm in the sky
and white cherry blossoms all over a mountain




More miserable than
a beast dying a solitary death in the recesses of
the mountains must be a love drawing to an end like this




The sorrow of a path

making its way all through this deep valley
reaches its apex at
a grove of white birches




Here is a man
thoroughly solitary –
a shadow of oblivion
drifting one place
to another, flowing on and on




Myself lamenting
my wife and children’s lives and my own,
lamenting body and soul burning side by side




In this autumn valley
my mind leans to lament
while staring at
the roundness of the river waters going over every stone




Without calling at
this vernal noonday port
a boat goes on
and on, passing a promontory, receding into the distance





To divert myself
from this violent thirst for sake, I go out
to this small garden and weed – O weeds, I’m now all attention

––––Translations by Gregory Dunne and Goro Takano

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