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Manoa 13.1 (2001) 11

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Four Thousand Days and Nights

Tamura Ryuichi

For one poem to be born
we must kill
We must kill many things
We shoot, assassinate, poison the many things we love

We shot
the silence of four thousand nights and the glare of
    four thousand days
simply because we wanted the trembling tongue of one small bird
from the sky of four thousand days and nights

We assassinated
the love of four thousand days and the pity of four thousand nights
simply because we needed the tears of one hungry child
from all the rainy cities and blast furnaces
and the midsummer wharves and the coal mines

We see things our eyes cannot see
We hear things our ears cannot hear
We poisoned
the power of imagination of four thousand nights
    and the cold memories of four thousand days
simply because we wanted the fear of one stray dog

To give birth to one poem
we must kill the things we love
This is the only road to take to resurrect the dead
This is the road we have to take

Translation by Samuel Grolmes and Tsumura Yumiko

Tamura Ryuichi was born in 1923. He served in the Japanese Imperial Navy during World War ii and was the founder of the postwar magazine Arechi (Wasteland). He wrote thirty books of poetry, including a farewell volume, which was published in 1999, the year after his death. The poem in this issue is from Poetry of Ryuichi Tamura (CCC Books, 1998), translated by Samuel Grolmes and Tsumura Yumiko.

Samuel Grolmes has published poetry, fiction, and translations of Japanese works. A former Fulbright professor to Japan, he recently published Tamura Ryuichi: Poems 1946-1998, a book cotranslated with Tsumura Yumiko.

Tsumura Yumiko has taught American literature at Baika Women's College and earned a master of fine arts degree in poetry and translation at the University of Iowa. Her books include Tamura Ryuichi: Poems 1946-1998, which she cotranslated with Samuel Grolmes.