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Thursday, May 14, 2015

7 Tanka Poems by Kanoko Okamoto, Or an Exercise In Transcultural Translation


Kanoko Okamoto (1889 —1939)
Wu Guanzhong, A Water Village pen & ink? (*fair use, I hold no copyright to this image)


7 Tanka Poems, Or an Exercise In Transcultural Translation


Re-translated into English from Croatian

(*From the original English translation by Makoto Ueda)



dvadeset dana
boravka u šumi
a još uvijek
niti jednog stabla koje bi htjelo
uzeti me pod svoje toplo okrilje



prije deset godina
bila sam luda žena
s očima uperenim
u žarko crvene cvatove trešnje
u crne poput tinte cvatove trešnje


gola kao od majke rodjena
u ruci držim
jabuku crvenu
držeći je tako
kupam se izjutra


cvatovi trešnje
cvatući moćno
tjeraju me da ih motrim
svom moći koju posjedujem


na more, na more
stigla sam čvrsto odlučena
ali ovdje nema ničeg
osim mora koja se prostire
u beskraj


razum razbijen
u tisuće komada
htio bi provesti
ovaj cijeli dan na ovome čamcu
koji pluta riječnom strujom



listovi zeleni
toliko čisto zeleni
cvjetovi crveni
toliko čisto crveni
kako ste ugodni mome oku!



Kanoko Okamoto (1889 —1939)



twenty days
of being in the forest
and still
not a single tree trunk that would
take me into its warm embrace


ten years ago
I was a mad woman
with the eyes fixed
on red hot cherry blossoms
on the ink black cherry blossoms



naked as a newborn babe
in my hand I hold
an apple red
while thus holding it
I take my morning bath


cherry blossoms
blossoming mightily
forcing me to look at them
with all the might I can muster



to the sea, to the sea
I have come firm
but nothing is here
but the sea that extends
into infinity



the reason shattered
into thousands of shards
would want to
while the day away on this boat
floating on the river stream



the green leaves
so purely green
the red leaves
so purely red
how dear you are to my eye!




Translator's note:


This is a re-translation of the project initiated in 2012. The source is the anthology of the Japanese contemporary tanka poetry by Makoto Ueda. His translation into, to my mind, somewhat stilted, stiff English, however managed to fully engage my intuitive interest in the genre. In 2012 and 2013 I have made several drafts in Croatian, this is one of them...

To my sensibility one Kanoko Okamoto, stands out from the field of many great poets, and here's the quick,  result that hopes to, in re-translation, capture something of the spirit that moves in the lines of this' tanka she-master.


B. G.