Untitled Nonsense, She, and Contradictions by Yoshihara Sachiko

Transference, Dec 2017

Translated by Carol Hayes and Rina Kikuchi from Japanese

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Untitled Nonsense, She, and Contradictions by Yoshihara Sachiko

Untitled Nonsense, She, and Contradictions by Yoshihara Sachiko Carol Hayes 0 1 2 0 Part of the Japanese Studies Commons, Language Interpretation and Translation Commons , Modern Literature Commons, and the Poetry Commons 1 Rina Kikuchi Shiga University / Australian National University 2 The Australian National University Follow this and additional works at: http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/transference - Article 12 wind tree ah wind blowing standing on a night like this blowing tree standing a sound late in the night alone in my bathroom soap foam like a crab blowing bubbles lukewarm bathwater bitter play slug creeping over the wet towel in the bathroom ah on a night like this you’re creeping aren’t you I’ll cover you in salt then you disappear but you’re still here slug you’re standing there aren’t you tree is fear existing non-existing - I wonder again spring arrives again the wind blows I am the salted slug I exist nowhere I don’t exist I seem buried in soap foam washed away ah a night like this Carol Hayes and Rina Kikuchi She Yoshihara Sachiko あのひと she she just yesterday she was there she mackerel in miso yummy she was there just yesterday she the pencil the swing just yesterday she in an angelic she sang every time she saw cutie reaching out squeezing tight was living was there until just yesterday she was laughing was living soy simmered pumpkin yummy, she said she was eating eighty years ago was a girl she sharpened she swung three years ago was a girl delicate voice “chasing rabbits” my dimples cutie, she said her warm palm she held my hand the flowers the shoji screens the juggling balls the fallen leaves the comb the futon the letters the paths the sunsets the sounds of the sea the loves she she Transfec she grew she mended she made she burnt she used she slept in she wrote she walked she saw she heard she remembered was living was living Carol Hayes and Rina Kikuchi Contradictions Yoshihara Sachiko むじゅん Snow-covered mountains dyed red in the distant sunset Wild birds motionless on each rock of the luminous river bank Two little children sing in pure soprano I will soon go to my death I suffer the world as beautiful as this * Weekend fireworks blossom in the distant night sky A fragment of stone pierces the soft throat of a child Black snow falls on black sea I will soon go to my death I suffer if the future is not beautiful! Yoshihara Sachiko 吉原幸子 (1932-2002) was born in Tokyo and studied French literature at Tokyo University, graduating in 1956. Very active in theatre while at university, she became a member of the famed Gekidanshiki (The Shiki Theatre Company) after graduation. She came to poetry later in life, publishing her first collection Yōnen rentō (幼年連禱: Childhood Litany) in 1964, which won the fourth Murō Saisei Poetry Award in 1974. Her third collection, Ondine (オンディーヌ), published in 1972, and the fourth, Hirugao (昼顔: Calystegia Japonica), published in 1974, are often considered as a pair, winning the forth Takami Jun Award. Her eighth poetry collection, Hana no moto ni te, haru (花のもとにて 春: Under the Blossoms, Spring), published in 1983, includes poems dedicated to her beloved mother, who passed away at the age of ninety in 1982. She was a pioneer Japanese feminist poet, who founded La Mer magazine together with Shinkawa Kazue (新川和江, b. 1929) which ran for ten years from 1983 to 1993 and helped to launch the careers of many younger female poets. La Mer was discontinued due to Yoshihara’s ill health. She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1994. Her last poetry collection, Hakkō (発光: Bioluminescence), published with the help of Shinkawa Kazue in 1995, won the third Hagiwara Sakutarō Poetry Award. Of the poems included here, “Untitled Nonsense” was taken from Childhood Litany, “She” from Under the Blossoms, Spring, and finally, “Contradictions” from Bioluminescence. In her Japanese writing style, Yoshihara chose very intentionally to use old-style hiragana kyū-kana dzukai (旧仮名遣 い) rather than modern hiragana usage, shin-kana dzukai (新仮 名遣い). When compared to modern hiragana usage, old-style hiragana usage sounds the same and the meaning does not change. Its main effect is visual, and thus, it is not reflected in our translations. Similarly, the visual impact of “Contradictions,” written completely in hiragana, is again lost in the English translation. Yoshihara drew on the linguistic possibilities available to her in Japanese to create layers of meaning in her work, by using both kanji and furigana superscript. One example is the title of “Untitled Nonsense.” The original Japanese uses the kanji term mu-dai (無題) which translates directly as "no-title," with the superscript furigana nansensu (ナンセンス) written above the kanji. Because nansensu is a foreign loan word coming from the English word “nonsense,” katakana script is used. We aimed to capture these two layers in our translated title. Another interesting title translation issue is in the poem, “She.” In the original Japanese, the title of this poem is ano hito (あのひと) which translates directly as “that person.” However, this is a poem dedicated to her ailing mother, and the “that person” is the poet’s mother. In Japanese, the expression ano hito does not carry the same sense of distance as “that person” in English. Thus, we have chosen to use “she” as it conveys a more immediate and personal feeling which we feel the original evokes. Yoshihara intentionally uses single or double spaces between her words and phrases in the original poems, although Japanese sentences do not usually include any such spaces. We have used ten English spaces for each single Japanese space to reflect this structure. Finally, when we translate we often find ourselves discussing the smaller grammatical elements in the original Japanese and deciding whether or not to include them in the English, as they sometimes add too much emphasis to a particular word, over and beyond the original. For example, in “Contradictions,” Yoshihara uses no ni (のに) which is a conjunction that carries a number of meanings, such as “although,” “in spite of,” or “regardless.” In this poem, we argue that the meaning is “regardless” and not “although,” and that if we included it, the translation of Line 4 in both stanzas would become, “Regardless of the fact that I will soon go to my death.” This we feel is too explanatory and places too much emphasis on the interconnection between Lines 4 and 5. As a result we have chosen to leave it to the reader to make that connection. Translators’ Notes: She Chasing rabbits: This is the beginning of the well-known Japanese song, “Furusato” (ふるさ), which means “home country.” Source texts: Yoshihara , Sachiko. 無題 ("Untitled Nonsense" ). Yoshihara Sachiko Zenshi , vol. 1 , Shichosha , 1981 , pp. 22 - 23 . --- . あのひと ("She") . Yoshihara Sachiko Zenshi , vol. 3 , Shichosha , 2012 , pp. 94 - 96 . --- . むじゅん ("Contradictions") . Yoshihara Sachiko Zenshi , vol. 3 , Shichosha , 2012 , pp. 350 - 51 .


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Carol Hayes, Rina Kikuchi. Untitled Nonsense, She, and Contradictions by Yoshihara Sachiko, Transference, 2017,