Japanese Modernist Poet Nishiwaki Junzaburō, Ambarvalia


When yellow violets blossomed long ago

Dolphins reared their heads to heaven and sea.

In a sharp-prowed ship wreathed with flowers

Dionysus sails onward, dreaming.

On the decorated plate a boy washed his face,

Crossing the Mediterranean Sea with a gem merchant.

The name of that boy has been forgotten.

The glorious oblivion of morning.

Chestnut Leaves

As string-bean flowers were blossoming,

The evening came.

Both I and the fish slept.

Among the whispering chestnut trees

Maud’s voice sounded.

A nightingale is singing,

The night is waning,

My head turns to shadow of a rose on marble.


The glow of white violets,

A glow circling round a peninsula;

The world of my ring dies into darkness

The shrubbery cup laughs,

Pointed flowers open between the toes,

And white hands reaching out—

Veiled in the light of a pansy—

Embrace a goddess.

Image shifts into image.

Her cheek’s reflected in the glorious spring of a mirror.

Sycamore leaves are reflected in glass.

Primroses in blue-shaven eyebrows.

Tears in a gem.

When day goes out to the sea

And evening enters the shore,

Thy hair turns invisible.

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One Response to Japanese Modernist Poet Nishiwaki Junzaburō, Ambarvalia

  1. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    “O rose, thy color is sorrow”
    An interesting line. Quite a contrast to Persian/Middle Eastern poetry on roses and nightingales.

    Ishmael Zechariah

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