In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Manoa 13.1 (2001) 165-169

[Access article in PDF]

Three Poems

Ayukawa Nobuo

Man on the Bridge(1942)

Man on the bridge resting your elbows on the high parapet
casting a shadow in the clear sky.
The weeping trees, or
black stream flowing far beneath
the endless roofs of the town made of stone
do you really feel
the prow desperately advancing,
plowing through heavy stagnant time
striking at vanity with its oars?

Man on the bridge watching the fireworks
you came to the far bridge
to look down on the image of yourself--
abandoning the abominable wall
sighs flickering on useless paper.
Turning away birds
fatigued by artificiality
to their late gloomy branches
on the faraway bridge
you look up at the fireworks of midday.

Man on the bridge with a parched spirit,
in the quiet ebb and flow of the sleeping wave
the faces of mother, father
friends, too, are wavering.
Is there much deeper toil than this smooth cave?
Even if the pure green calls to you from the grave mound,
the surface of the water refuses to move.

Man on the bridge who is dreaming--
the day when this mud-soiled stream
will someday flow to the sea with a thunderclap [End Page 165]
and spill out to the horizon joined to the sky,
the day when this bridge will either drift out to sea
or become a blue figure alive with motion
crying in a natural voice...
will that day ever come?

Man on the bridge with an earnest brow
you become one with the hazy mist,
making sure that the footprints around your life are disappearing.
What are you thinking at sunset?
The thousand steps coming and going across your back
are descending towards the same labyrinth
just walking the stairs to oblivion
holding the wooden rail
listening to the swell of polluted underground water.

Pick a moment when anger can be quelled easily,
as if there were means on Earth to cure only the flesh.
Man on the bridge with distant eyes,
nobody would believe you would lie down
trembling under the sunset sky
and smile forever to the words of the drifting wind
blowing on black water.

Leaving the dim edge of the abyss,
it's possible that people flow in time unchanging like a narrow river.
But man on the bridge,
no matter where you go
the silence of the pale river
trails after the ticking of the clock
that carves out the soul
preventing your advance like a succession of doors,
making your body into a shadow like the corridor of afternoon.

Why did it take you so long to remember
that you yourself are one small room,
and here and there are also just an illusion?
Man on the bridge. At the end of beauty,
there was no direction
there were no fireworks or dreams
no wind blowing.
Sustained by the dark blue,
gazing at the other bank
you're still cold
aren't you,
man on the bridge. [End Page 166]


"1886" read the whiskey label.
That was the year
my agony began.
Once I walked in Singapore,
far from here
with a license to kill in my pocket.
Under the blue sky
the young man who taught Pascal
died in battle
and yet, we couldn't believe we survived.

Once a German writer who hated war
showed me a painted plate.
On it was painted "1850."
That's the year I became un ├ętranger
not caring where I went.
One day I took a boat
and thought of Peppercorn
committing suicide.
Toba Lake was calm.
The oars gave me a whole body
and the power bound judgement and intention tightly to my legs.
There were no birds, much less the shadows of humans.
The other side is always quiet, like a dead country.
I knew that
the evening sun threw red dye on my jacket shoulder,
and the moonlight that would make this world cold
shone on my forehead...

Speeding through the outskirts of Manila,
I used to laugh.
At Keelung Harbor in the rain,
I might cry
In a corner of Tokyo...