Four Poems by Yoshiko Hanabusa

Transference, Dec 2018

Translated from Japanese by Rina Kikuchi: The State of My Day Fallen Blossom Over the Winter Mountains The Battle of Sparrows

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Four Poems by Yoshiko Hanabusa

Four Poems by Yoshiko Hanabusa Rina Kikuchi 0 Part of the Japanese Studies Commons 0 Language Interpretation 0 Translation Commons 0 Modern Literature Commons 0 the Poetry Commons 0 0 Shiga University Follow this and additional works at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/transference Rina Kikuchi Four Poems by Hanabusa Yoshiko The State of My Day ?????? Sitting on the dresser A box of Shikishima cigarettes, gloves, a plastic pinwheel, Karukasu cracker crumbs, postcards and calling cards More and more things there too A train ticket, a half-used ball of yarn, A wallet, a sachet of Ry?kakusan cough medicine, A fountain pen, a handkerchief dried in the sun When night falls and the children sleep I clean up the dresser top Piled up there, each item recounts The pleasures of deeds done that day Come tomorrow, fresh and new, May the pile grow ever higher With tomorrow?s items Healthy and full of love! Fallen Blossom ?? ?This is my boy The day he graduated from aviation school at Kasumigaura? A memento of the time He received a gift from the Emperor,? I say this, pointing at the desktop photo In a plaza, walled by red and white curtains, In front of another long curtain, You, straight as a shoot of bamboo, Raise your hand to salute the Emperor I vividly feel Your pulse, your pride But only a few days later, far too soon, He was sent to the Navy Base in Oita May 24, 1939 7:25 in the evening Those numbers?forever, as long as I live? Will remain deeply lodged in my body and soul He joined a night drill In preparation for the heavy yet honorable duty To which he was about to be called They say he asked to lead the aircraft 95 in combat, But that evening His life concluded at twenty-four years As he died, becoming a fallen blossom in the open sky That was the last of him His fighter plane crashed Onto the great plains in Oita, darkness already falling Dyeing the navy-blue wheat field with burning red Like a falling meteorite The officers dashed there, shouting Who?s that? Whose craft? What aircraft number? His body was clad tight in uniform, His face hidden in his helmet, It wasn?t easy to identify who he was One voice screamed, ?Lieutenant Colonel Ikeda!? Tearing through the darkness of night His comrades-in-arms held their breath Then called your name like thunder While surrounding you, my boy Their cries called him back to life Using his last strength, he sat, Held the control stick again As if to lift his spirit and fly once more He lasted only half a minute more They brought him to the Navy Hospital But despite diligent care, My boy?s soul left this world In Oita All wept for his heroic end Those who knew him and those who did not Attended the solemn military funeral All this was written in a heart-felt letter I received from a perfect stranger 2018 You Made my wishes come true Your mother, who adores the blue sky and wide-open ocean, Had her wishes granted thanks to you Beautiful both inside and outside, you became One of the youngest, bravest soldiers of the sea, of Japan, of the Fatherland Your death is in the utmost honor I wish for nothing more in this world, for humankind, for myself There is nothing more I wish to say I, a nameless woman poet, Am humble, full of awe. I say ?Long life?banzai!?to Your Majesty, the Emperor.? 42 Over the Winter Mountains - Joining the Kagayaku women?s troop to visit Minato Veterans? Hospital?We should have brought some flowers,? Someone said in the bus. She was right, no one has flowers But still we go over the winter mountains Bearing only our pure hearts ????? ????????? ???????????? The seaside town of Izu, covered in dust, Greeted us gloomily Islands, seagulls, fruit orchards, mountain surfaces Everything I see makes me cold Lake Ippeki is the only blue Turning from the bus I fill my fountain pen With the clear water of this lonesome high land Minato Veterans? Hospital, are we there yet? Not yet, much, much further This mountain, that mountain From the city of Shimoda, We once more go over the mountains The Battle of Sparrows In the sunny, quiet sky of autumn The sparrows fight incessantly Darkening branches as they gather Their noisy cries never cease Some may be wounded but still Their uproar brings me cheer One dark night, as dark as a lone house, I plant spring onions. Snow-white, straight shoots Burrow into the cool, soft soil One by one, they go down deep As I collect my thoughts * I am a triangle-shaped ruler. If I become edgeless, I will no longer exist. So, my friends, forgive me. * The tree half-felled by the storm, Is it falling down Or is it rising up? * A rainy day Are the umbrellas Feeling joy or grief? Answer me, with your own ideology ???? Translator?s Notes The State of My Day Shikishima: the name of a cigarette brand of the time. Karukasu crackers: thin, big, round crackers which are like wafers. Ryukakusan: the brand name of a cold medicine. Fallen Blossom The Japanese title, Sange (??), literally means ?falling petals? and refers to a Buddhist ritual in which the petals of water lily flowers are scattered. It is meant to purify the place for the god(s) to come down and/or to pay respect to the god(s). However, during war time, sange started to be used to refer to dying an honorable death, most likely because the image of petals falling from a tree resembles the aircraft falling from the sky. The beautiful image of falling petals was effectively used to glorify death in war. Kasumigaura: The name of the city where a military school was located. Oita: A prefecture in the southern part of Japan. Thus, ?the sky in the South? implies the sky in Oita, where the son?s plane crashed. His father: Hanabusa left her husband and got officially divorced when Isamu was about seven years old. Isamu and his elder sister were raised by a foster mother. The details of her first marriage and how she came to know of Isamu?s death appear in her autobiographical novel, Waves (?, K?aNippon, 1941). Over the Winter Mountains Izu: Izu peninsula is 100 km south of Tokyo. It is a heavily forested area with lots of mountains, beautiful beaches, bays and hot springs. Lake Ippeki: Ippeki literally means ?one deep-green lake? in Japanese. Shimoda: A city in the Izu area. 2018 Yoshiko Hanabusa (???, 1892?1983) is one of the women pioneers of free-style modern verse, and her first solo poetry collection, On the White Bridge (?????), was published in 1925. She was one of the first five women who managed to publish a solo free-style poetry collection in Japan. Her free-style poems, short stories and essays appeared in various journals and magazines, notably the radical feminist magazine, Nyoningeijutsu, Women?s Art (????, 1928?32). When she was around 30 years old, she abandoned her husband and two children in order to pursue her dream career and become a poet. It was very difficult for a woman to be a wife/mother and a poet at the same time. Many women sacrificed one or the other. An extreme example of this is Misuzu Kaneko (?????, 1903? 1930), a renowned pre-war woman poet, who chose to kill herself at the age of 26 because her husband did not allow her to write poems. After the divorce, Hanabusa worked in factories and took many other jobs to financially support herself in Tokyo. She never remarried, but later became a single mother and lived with her son, Atsumasa (1927?). She kept writing and publishing till the end of her life. Her poetry collection, Town of Disguise (????, 1993), was published with a small disc, which records her readings of her own poems. I hope this selection demonstrates the poetic path many early women free-style poets took, by focusing on her pre-war poems on feminism, women?s life, war and imperialism, aesthetics and philosophy. ?The State of My Day? was published in On the White Bridge reflecting her everyday life as a mother and a woman with a career. I kept all the Japanese names, such as Shikishima and Karukasu, in ?The State of My Day? in the English translation, though they may be easily deleted. I argue these particular names of cigarettes, crackers and cough medicine bring reality into the poem. The poem is based on the poet?s own everyday life, and because of these brand names, the readers can share the familiarity of everyday middle-class family life. It was important for women poets, who were fewer than 10% of all poets 46 Transfec in Japan in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, to write what (they thought) men-poets could not, but only women could, about women?s real lives. I have chosen three poems published in one of the first free-style poetry anthologies of women poets, Anthology of Contemporary Women Poets (???????, 1940). War poems such as ?Fallen Blossom? and ?Over the Winter Mountains? were completely neglected after the surrender of Japan in 1945, mainly because both poets and critics felt ashamed of propaganda poetry in support of war. However, as Hideto Tsuboi points out in his Celebration of Voices (????, 1997), a reassessment of war poetry is necessary to fully understand the development of Japanese free-style poetry in the twentieth century, and I argue that the war poetry written by women deserves its own position in Japanese literary history. ?Fallen Blossom? is one of the earliest free-style war poems written by women, which reflects the imperialism of wartime Japan. Government imperialism brainwashed almost all Japanese citizens, including intellectual, elite, well-educated women writers and poets with the ?Emperor Showa as God? ideology. They were repeatedly taught that Japanese citizens were the emperor's chosen children, whose highest honor was to serve him, implying that sacrificing their own lives for him was their duty as good citizens. Dying for the emperor was taught and believed to be the most honorable act one could achieve in life. This poem is crucial, not only because it strongly reflects this ideology but also because it demonstrates the paradoxical twist of the feelings of the mother, who is trying to turn her heartbroken sadness into honor. In order to give a meaning to her son?s death, the mother tries to believe in the doctrine of Japanese imperialism. The imperialism is used as a means to overcome the tragedy. This poem was written based on Hanabusa?s own experience with the death of her son, Isamu. ?Over the Winter Mountains? is also based on her own experience, a visit with her fellow women writers to Minato Veterans? Hospital in Izu area. Hanabusa became a passionate volunteer to help war victims after her son?s death. ?The Battle of Sparrows? was also published in the same anthology, but it reflects her ideology and philosophy. Many similar epigramlike poems were written by women in pre-war Japan. Such epigram-like poems have been unfairly disparaged. They express women?s struggles to live their lives fully, as well as the fact women can be philosophical and can deal with issues beyond household and motherhood. I believe these early women?s poems have their own importance in literary studies as well as in gender studies. Hanabusa , Yoshiko. ? The State of My Day.? Over the White Bridge [??? ??] , Masago shuppan , 1925 , pp. 110 - 112 . --- . ?Fallen Blossom,? ?Over the Winter Mountains,? and ?The Battles of Sparrows.? Anthology of Contemporary Women Poets [?????? ?] , Sengabou, 1940 , pp. 145 - 159 .


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Rina Kikuchi. Four Poems by Yoshiko Hanabusa, Transference, 2018,