Hirato Renkichi
Four Poems
Translated by Sho Sugita


Instruments thoughtlessly
Handled should be avoided.
In the corner of the room
On the floor
Let them sleep
On this beautiful animal
Lay one touch
And everything is over
In this world
The idiot
Most ignorant about music
That is
The musician!


Trying to draw the shapes of still life
Is useless
Best not to draw the strong and thoughtless lines
If one line is drawn
It is over
And I am rejoicing the fact that I did not become a painter.

Improvisational Poem I

The time the Sphinx laughs
But then
The grimace
Obstructs the road
Swagger about
The time the Sphinx laughs
But then
Without alcohol
I cannot dance with a straight face
In the brink of falling

The mask
Seems loud.
The time the Sphinx laughs
At least
The two will laugh
In hand
Holding truth

Improvisational Poem II

Full of poetry.
Full of love.
Full of work.
Full of strange motivations.
Full of splendid imaginations.
Now, now,
Near my 30th springtime
Man's springtime
Inside the chest in an unhurried stride of space
Roars with laughter.

Born Kawahata Shōichi on December 9th, 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, first publishing in Bansō (Accompaniment) under the guidance of Kawaji Ryūkō. His later works appeared in numerous coterie journals in Japan, including Gendaishiika (Modern Poetry), Taimatsu (Torchlight), Nihonshijin (Japanese Poet), among others. Although he worked at Hōchi Shimbun News and Chūō Geijutsu Art Publishing, he suffered from tuberculosis, often failing to make ends meet for his common-law wife and child. He passed away on July 20, 1922 in Tokyo. He was 29 years old.

Sho Sugita lives in Yokote, 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.