Hirato Renkichi
Six Poems
Translated by Sho Sugita

Ballade Van De Haven

The sun sets before an old port of the west. The sun sets above a mast. The gold of the entering light pierces suddenly, and how beautiful the statue of Mary looks.

The cicada sings. The cicada sings. Could it be a Portuguese sailor's song, listen to the old memory, under Shiba Kōkan's "spectacles bridge," pulpy rhythmic flow of the waves, listen, listen, all of you, to the strange turkey playing under the shade of that fig tree, or that Ramanas rose on that cool green hill, listen, listen, all of you, to those ruins of that shadowless building, the patterns of the ivy entwining on the fence, the wind whistles there, like dreaming the wind whistles there, the sounds of melancholic wind.

Dug out from the soil, the exotic doll is also crying. There, crying within my reach. The unglazed doll is Virgin Santa Maria. The other doll is a goateed Dutch captain

.......................................... (A faint monologue from above the waves)

I will go out today as well. Around the ships of the port, something precious seemed to hug and shower down. Hey, why don't you come over? Why don't you come and see—there is fabric that will make you lose control. Veludo maybe it was called, and, there are piles of Portuguese saraça that one would want to wear at the Bon Festival dances......... And, that sailor who is a captain says he likes us a lot. In that dreamy diamão, I want to at least try a cup of that viscous turmeric wine. Hey, I wonder what kind of weather it'd be............I don't really want to see China or India, right, with my life at stake and all, just want to drink a drop of it, get drunk to be able to die, right, hey............like being under a spell, in a trance............

The sun sets before an old port. The sun sets before a backdrop of an old copperplate. The sun sets above my imagination. The clouds fly. The gulls dance. The clouds drift like long and narrow flags. Is it the magpie wings that are able to flutter in the distant sky? Cellophane angel wings?

Ahoy the voice of ship calls, the reverberation of the scull, a nostalgic memory shines on the channel of waves, the bells ring, there the bells ring. From the statue of Maria, from the hills of Chinese windmill palms, the bells of dusk sound off......

Song for the Skylark

Though there are willows, where might the now sad woman of Utamaro be; though the young grass sprouts and cherries blossom in spring, the forlorn JAPONAISE..................in a black dress walking on paved roads with those lively platans, the mechanism of the black mass—what to do with the black corpse—the sad thing is of the East, maturing in the field a song for the skylark, this endless silhouette regardless of crying.

Flowers bloom in the roadside trees, what with disposition or disgust, bringing dancers like squirrels, a man from the joyous spring of Paris, the rippling of water flow and words of silver also calmly, from a spring of wisdom pouring into a wine cup exchanged at a masquerade, "my life is that of a pierrot," and so the country we head towards is to utopia still one, that city of light I think of and cry—what to do with the black corpse—O, what to do with the fields of the East nearby a subtle silhouette like that of a skylark crying from laughter.

Gourd Garden

A Buddhist priest during a dreary midday, where did the boy-lord come from, the servants, the familiar streets of Sagano, what a shameless manner of walking around the room. The fellow gourd laughs; the fellow gourd tumbles around.

With a sizzling sound the sun shines, wanting water, please give me a drop says the useless unfamiliar military gourd we don't even have time to put our efforts into right now. Of course I had a heated argument with him, but ultimately, a frog unwieldily jumped into the pond.

Hellooo, what great weather, crowd of girls, how incredibly hard we work, but now they're as like as two gourds on a vine, with their daily prudence their colors are good, no complaints about their looks, and they are being so kind hearted... Only to say yes, the conniving frog not only once but twice kotsun kotsun bobbed the tip of its head, but as one may expect with the gourds, to hell with everything they tilt their heads away and pretend nothing had happened.

That's it, that's it, that's really it—the white debris suddenly rises. (Now, the neighboring siblings are too ashamed to look at each other, though powdering their faces, wearing some rouge, dying their teeth jet black, this truly frustrating cold, this truly frustrating cold...) The sweetness of the sobbing gourd-girls. Lord Amitabha have mercy! What a dirty gourd—the watchman at the turret wakes up from his nap as he plucks it off and mutters, ahahaha............

There, the young villagers' handcarts sure pass through. Wonder if Tarosuke is around, rotting in bed all the time, heard he's sleeping, shouldn't matter whether or not I steal one, though I'd sure be ashamed if I get caught in the act. But, this thirst, I can't............while being indecisive, gorogorogoro a thundering sound to the east, a black cloud hangs over my head like a beast. Where did the youngster's sinister motives go as they go lickety-split with their handcarts, running away.


The ball above me bounces
The ball twice, thrice above me......
Pom! Pom! Freely bouncing,
The ball with grace
The ball dancing
While applauded by a crowd
Rolling into a dance hall.

Inside the masses
Inside the dance of the masses
I think to play with this graceful ball.

The ball shivers in the cold autumn air
The ball inside the show window
Inside a small apron
Mild-tempered, muted and shivering
The ball wraps the endless loneliness, solitude
With his gentle mask
The ball is a penetrating égoíst.

With my hand soaked in oil
With my hand fiercely familiar with machines
I bounce my cute ball, softly
Above my chest
The ball gracefully dance
The ball inside my hand perpetually dance
Of Spontanéiti the completely impenetrable rubber ball
Free with grace, echo on the palm of my hand.

New Voice

The storm passed away
The cluster of colossal storms
Pierced through a million hearts and passed away.

In any event, the storm intelligently
Swift, with a moment
Of clarity over the vicinity of the masses
Before anyone knew
Passed away inside this century.

Propaganda of storm!
O, did you not listen to the voice of this exceptionally elegant storm!

The storm passed away,
The storm sowed the invisibly minute fragrance
Scraping the vicinity of the indolent heart
Disappearing into eternity.

Let's listen to the voice left behind by the storm
Together tied to a tacit understanding
Together listen to our chests
O, inside the great delicate union
You and I exist in.
Numerous objects of nature,
Human heart.

O, inside the great delicate symphony
You and I go back and forth.
Without any hesitation, from the heart
Like a gentle breeze
You and I sway back and forth.

Music Inside the Box

The dancer held and held still
Stretches inside the box
tri tri tri
copo copo copo
uhra-ra-r —raaaaaaaa......

Neck neck neck

Bringing over faces
Peeping faces
Undernourished color!
popo popo popo
plon plon plon

Towards a camera obscura
An oblique light
A blue sky
The sun
The green of the mountain
The sea
Peeps through
voran voran voran
voron voron voron
vorun vorun vorun

Raucous laughter!
In an instant
In space a giant arm descends
A heavy lid slaps closed
As knuckles fly
An absolute power oversees the music inside the box

——Moreover, carelessly......

Born Kawahata Shōichi on December 9, 1893 in Osaka, Hirato Renkichi attended Sophia University in Tokyo for three years before dropping out and attending Gyosei Gakkō to study Italian. He started writing poetry in 1912. His Japanese Futurist poems and manifestos appeared in numerous coterie journals in Japan, including Gendaishiika (Modern Poetry), Taimatsu (Torchlight), Nihonshijin (Japanese Poet), among others. He passed away on July 20, 1922 in Tokyo.

Sho Sugita lives in Matsumoto, Japan. His recent poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in VOLT, Poems by Sunday, Chicago Review, 6x6, Lana Turner, Paperbag, and Asymptote. A translation booklet of Hirato Renkichi is available through DIEZ press, and the Collected Works of Hirato Renkichi is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse.