An Autumn Torso, A Fish in Adolescence, A Night Canal, and A Small Civilization by Shiro Murano

Transference, Dec 2016

Translated from Japanese by Goro Takano

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An Autumn Torso, A Fish in Adolescence, A Night Canal, and A Small Civilization by Shiro Murano

An Autumn Torso, A Fish in Adolescence, A Night Canal, and A Small Civilization by Shiro Murano Part of the Classical Literature 0 Philology Commons 0 Comparative Literature Commons 0 East Asian Languages 0 Societies Commons 0 European Languages 0 Societies Commons 0 French 0 Francophone Language 0 Literature Commons 0 German Language 0 Literature Commons 0 International 0 Area Studies Commons 0 Linguistics Commons 0 Modern Languages Commons 0 Modern Literature Commons 0 Near Eastern Languages 0 Societies Commons 0 Poetry Commons 0 the Reading 0 Language Commons 0 0 Goro Takano Saga University Faculty of Medicine Follow this and additional works at: - Article 16 Seen clearly inside A poison hemlock Is a ripe waist A twisted womb which Will remain sterile For good To whom in the world Will a disjointed arm Dedicate its momentary passion Without any change in its figure In the twilight where Existence has overcome A blood disease of humans And has developed its plumpness With a sense of nostalgia The fire of this ruinous autumn Moves from Wax trees to Sumac trees Shiro Murano 秋のトルソ Goro Takano A Fish in Adolescence Until you’re pulled out of the water With the bleeding from your gills You are not a fish yet When, as if they want to say something Your eyes reflect the forest and the sky And when your tail and fins Start going into subtle spasm Death finally makes you fishy enough From an eternal distance Someone calls you In a small voice: “Thou fish”— What is your depressed shape for When your body is widely unfolded like a leaf And your backbone is revealed at last Neither memories nor language are left there Except a drop of something rotten which Makes a bride’s hands fishy enough Goro Takano A Night Canal Somewhere half-sleeping seagulls cry Small fish, swallowing tar Sometimes spring up painfully from the water And sink deep back into the water Shiro Murano 夜の運河 I’m talking not about the ocean But about a nameless river flowing at the bottom of the night Without its source and outlet It’s a river of destiny Where destiny remains stalled In the midst of the lukewarm mist Smelling of horses I can see a bloodshot light all through the night Staggering from behind the shade is A man of the past Out of his system, vomit and excrement spout profusely I’m now talking about a dormant gentle river Stagnating at the bottom of human consciousness Due to the residue of no-exit sins Goro Takano A Small Civilization A giant hand Enters my mouth And breaks with a snap A tooth coated with blood And tosses it on a glass plate A young ghost says to me “I’ll replace it with a new one Within four or five days” But I know the new one Will be equally dead Whose tooth was it before, anyway Shiro Murano 小さな文明 From now on, at any rate The echoes of my spirit will have to be Crunched repeatedly with this gold-crowned stone-like substitute And I must survive with it a hunger like Christ’s An inlayed death A replaced life What kind of language will this mouth Continue to speak until the end of time I get up, finally And spit the bitter blood into a piece of enamelware The four poems I chose for my translation are originally included in On Lost Sheep (The Japanese original title is Boyo-ki or 亡羊 記) by Shiro Murano(村野四郎: 1901–75). Murano is one of the most influential poets of the Showaera Japan (1926–89). His early works were strongly influenced by surrealism, imagism and the German objectivism, while the poetry of his later years was marked by existentialism. The most puzzling for me in translating the first poem, “An Autumn Torso,” was how to finalize the order of the following three keywords in its last stanza: “twilight,” “existence,” and “nostalgia.” In fact, the arrangement of those words in the original last stanza can be literally translated as “the twilight of the nostalgia of existence.” However, I didn’t like this undue vagueness, so I managed to contextualize those keywords as much as I could, without falling into a superfluous deviation from the original’s basic atmosphere. When translating the second poem, “A Fish in Adolescence,” the very first obstacle for me was how to treat its title. The literal translation of the Japanese title might be “Youth’s Fish” or “A Fish of Adolescence.” But I chose the expression “in adolescence,” eventually, because it sounds the most natural to me. In addition, I first wondered about using the word “flat” (instead of the word “depressed”) for the Japanese adjective 偏 平な (henpei-na) in the last line of my translation’s third stanza. I picked the word “depressed” after all, because it seemed to reproduce better the subtle color of miserableness hanging around the fish in the original poem. I also needed to ponder for a while as to how to translate the direct address in the third stanza; the original doesn’t include any pronoun in it (only the word “fish” is used there), but I intentionally inserted the word “thou” into my translation, because it seemed fit for the particular voice reaching from “an eternal distance.” Intentionally again, I used the word “I” three times in my translation of the third poem, “A Night Canal,” though it doesn’t appear at all in the original. Other translators would choose not to feature this pronoun, but I thought the use of the first person necessary because (1) it would heighten the reader’s feeling of 72 Transfec being in the poem’s strange world (2) it would boost the translation’s overall readability. In addition, I could not help wondering how to interpret Murano’s use of the word “no-exit” in the last stanza of the original. No-exit “river”? No-exit “residue”? Or no-exit “sins”? After much thought, I picked the third choice. I used the word “substitute” in the third line of the second stanza of the last poem, “A Small Civilization,” although it is not used in the original, where Murano merely says: “this goldcrowned stone.” My word choice should be justified, I believe, because it seems far better to show clearly in the translation that this “stone-like” thing is here a “substitute” of the wrenched-off tooth. In addition, the fourth line of the same stanza in the original contains another confusing issue: does it say “Christ’s own hunger” or “a hunger like Christ’s”? In the end, I selected the latter, which seemed more proper for the poet’s point of view.

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Goro Takano. An Autumn Torso, A Fish in Adolescence, A Night Canal, and A Small Civilization by Shiro Murano, Transference, 2016,