Monday, September 16, 2013

A new translation of "The Poet's tombstone" (詩人の墓)

The Poet’s tombstone                    
                                                           Shuntaro Tanikawa                                       
                                                           (trans. by Naoko Ishikura)

Somewhere there was once a young man
Living and writing poetry
When someone got married, he would write a celebratory poem
When someone died, he would write a poem to carve into the tombstone

In return for the poems, people brought him various things
Someone brought him a basket full of eggs
Someone brought him a hand-sewn shirt
Someone poor just cleaned his room for him

The man was pleased with whatever he was given
To an old lady who gave him a gold ring
To a little girl who gave him a paper doll she made herself
He said thank-you, without discriminating

Of course the man had a name, but
Nobody called him by his name; they called him The Poet
At first he seemed embarrassed by that, but
He got used to it at some point

Hearing of his reputation, orders came from far away
Cat lovers ordered cat poems
Gluttons ordered food poems, and
Lovers ordered love poems

The man didn't refuse any orders no matter how difficult
He would sit in front of an old, rickety desk
And stare blankly into the air for a while
Then before he knew it, a poem would be finished

His poems were loved by everyone
Poems that compelled people to cry loudly
Poems that drove people to laugh so hard that it made their sides ache
Poems that made them go into deep thought in spite of themselves

People asked the man many things
"What should I do to write like you?"
"What should I study to become a poet?"
"Where do such beautiful words come from?"

But the man didn't reply
Even if he wanted to, he couldn't
"I don't know either" was all he had to say
People said he is a nice fellow

One day a girl came to visit the man
After reading his poems, she felt like meeting him
He fell in love with the girl at first sight
And deftly wrote off a poem and dedicated it to her

When the girl read it, she became overcome by a feeling that she couldn't explain
Didn't know whether she was sad or happy
Wanted to tear off stars from the night sky by hand
Wanted to go back to the time before birth

These are not the feelings of a human
She thought, if not the feelings of a god, these are the feelings of a devil
The man kissed the girl like a breeze
She didn't know whether she liked him, or instead liked his poetry

From that day on, the girl came to live with the man
When she made breakfast, he wrote a poem about breakfast
When she picked wild berries, he wrote a poem about wild berries
When she took off her clothes, he wrote of the beauty in a poem

The girl was proud of the man for being a poet
Rather than plowing fields or making machines
Rather than selling jewelry or being a king
Writing poems was more wonderful, she thought

But from time to time the girl was lonely
When she broke a cherished plate
He comforted her without getting upset at all
She was happy but felt something was missing

When the the girl talked about her grandmother that she left back home,
His tears fell in drops
But he'd already forgotten about it the next day
She thought, something is strange

But the girl was happy
She hoped to be with the man forever
As she whispered that to him, he hugged her
His eyes staring into the air without seeing her

The man always wrote poems alone
He didn't have friends
When he wasn't writing poems,
He seemed awfully bored

The man didn't know the names of any flowers, not even one
Yet he wrote many poems about flowers
In return for the poems, he received a lot of flower seeds
The girl grew flowers in the garden

One day at dusk, the girl felt sad for no reason
She sobbed, leaning against the man
On the spot, he wrote a poem to praise her tears
She tore up the poem and threw it away

The man's face took on a sad look
Seeing that face, the girl wept more intensely and shouted
"Say something that's not poetry
Say anything to me!"

The man looked down in silence
"You have nothing to say, do you?
You are an empty person
Anything and everything just passes you by"

"I live only here at this moment", the man said
"There is no yesterday or tomorrow for me
This world is too rich, too beautiful
I dream of a place where there is nothing"

The girl hit the man with her fists
Again and again with all her strength
Then his body became transparent
His heart, brain, and intestines became invisible as air

Through his body, on the other side, the girl saw a town,
Children playing hide-and-seek,
Lovers holding each other,
A mother stirring a pot,

Drunken officials,
Carpenters cutting wood with saws,
An old man coughing,
A tombstone tottering

And beside that tombstone
The girl found herself standing all alone
An old-fashioned blue sky was spread out
No words were carved into the tombstone





詩人の墓    谷川俊太郎

ある所にひとりの若い男がいた
詩を書いて暮らしていた
誰かが結婚するとお祝いの詩を書き
誰かが死ぬと墓に刻む詩を書いた

お礼に人々はいろいろなものをもってきた
卵を籠いっぱいもってくる者もいた
シャツを縫ってくる者もいた
貧しいので部屋の掃除をするだけの者もいた

男は何をもらっても喜んだ
金の指輪をくれたお婆さんにも
自分で作った紙の人形をくれた女の子にも
わけへだてなくありがとうと言った

男にもちゃんと名前があったが
誰も名を呼ばずに男を詩人と呼んだ
初めのうちは恥ずかしそうにしていたが
いつか男はそれに慣れてしまった

評判を聞いて遠くからも注文がきた
猫好きは猫の詩を
食いしんぼうは食べ物の詩を
恋人たちは恋の詩を頼んできた

男はどんな難しい注文も断らなかった
古ぼけてぐらぐらする机の前に座って
しばらくぼんやり宙をみつめる
するといつのまにか詩が出来てるのだった

男の詩はみんなに気にいられた
声をあげて泣かずにはいられない詩
お腹の皮がよじれるほど笑ってしまう詩
思わずじっと考えこんでしまうような詩

人々は何やかやと男に問いかけた
「どうすればそんなふうに書けるんだい」
「詩人になるにはどんな勉強をすればいいの」
「どこからそんな美しい言葉が出てくるのかね」

だが男は何も答えなかった
答えたくても答えられなかった
「ぼくにも分かりません」と言うしかなかった
あいつはいいやつだと人々は言った

ある日ひとりの娘がたずねてきた
詩を読んで男に会ってみたくなったのだ
男はひと目で娘が好きになって
すぐにすらすらと詩を書いて娘に捧げた

それを読むと娘はなんとも言えない気持ちになった
悲しいんだか嬉しいんだか分からない
夜空の星を手でかきむしりたい
生まれる前にもどってしまいたい

こんなのは人間の気持ちじゃない
神様の気持ちでなきゃ悪魔の気持ちだと娘は思った
男はそよかぜのように娘にキスした
詩が好きなのか男が好きなのか娘には分からなかった

その日から娘は男と暮らすようになった
娘が朝ご飯を作ると男は朝ご飯の詩を書いた
野苺を摘んでくると野苺の詩を書いた
裸になるとその美しさを詩に書いた

娘は男が詩人であることが誇らしかった
畑を耕すよりも機械を作るよりも
宝石を売るよりも王様であるよりも
詩を書くことはすばらしいと娘は思った

だがときおり娘は寂しかった
大事にしていた皿を割ったとき
男はちっとも怒らずに優しく慰めてくれた
嬉しかったが物足りなかった

娘が家に残してきた祖母の話をすると
男はぽろぽろ涙をこぼした
でもあくる日にはもうそのことを忘れていた
なんだか変だと娘は思った

けれど娘は幸せだった
いつまでも男といっしょにいたいと願った
そう囁くと男は娘を抱きしめた
目は娘を見ずに宙を見つめていた

男はいつもひとりで詩を書いた
友達はいなかった
詩を書いていないとき
男はとても退屈そうだった

男はひとつも花の名前を知らなかった
それなのにいくつもいくつも花の詩を書いた
お礼に花の種をたくさんもらった
娘は庭で花を育てた

ある夕暮れ娘はわけもなく悲しくなって
男にすがっておんおん泣いた
その場で男は涙をたたえる詩を書いた
娘はそれを破り捨てた

男は悲しそうな顔をした
その顔を見ていっそう烈しく泣きながら娘は叫んだ
「何か言って詩じゃないことを
 なんでもいいから私に言って!」

男は黙ってうつむいていた
「言うことは何もないのね
 あなたって人はからっぽなのよ
 なにもかもあなたを通りすぎて行くだけ」

「いまここだけにぼくは生きてる」男は言った
「昨日も明日もぼくにはないんだ
 この世は豊かすぎるから美しすぎるから
 何もないところをぼくは夢見る」

娘は男をこぶしでたたいた
何度も何度も力いっぱい
すると男のからだが透き通ってきた
心臓も脳も腸も空気のように見えなくなった

そのむこうに町が見えた
かくれんぼする子供たちが見えた
抱き合っている恋人たちが見えた
鍋をかき回す母親が見えた

酔っぱらっている役人が見えた
鋸で木を切っている大工が見えた
咳きこんでいるじいさんが見えた
倒れかかった墓が見えた

その墓のかたわらに
気がつくとひとりぼっちで娘は立ってた
昔ながらの青空がひろがっていた
墓には言葉はなにひとつ刻まれていなかった

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