Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ame ni mo Makezu, not losing to the rain - by Japanese Poet, Kenji Miyazawa

Kenji Miyazawa (1896 - 1933) is a famous Japanese Poet.  He was from Hanamaki in Iwate, and died young age at 37 years-old from pneumonia, but was quite talented and left many children's literature and poems that have been read and loved by both children and adults for nearly a century.  However, like many other of the greatest artists in history, he had been poor for most of his life and unknown as a poet in his entire lifetime.  He was closely connected to nature, and this makes his perspective of the world in his literature so attractive and profound.

He wrote about his local land of Iwate, described its plain beauty and respected the simple northern farmers' life.  He converted to Nichiren buddism, became a vegetarian, and showed deep compassion for the poor, especially farmers who worked hard but suffered from the severe climate of the region.  He also learnt Esperanto and called his local land, 'Ihatov' which means utopia.  Even today, many of the names in Hanamaki area are written in Esperanto because of his influence.

Here is his most famous poem, Ame ni mo Makezu - Not losing to the rain.

not losing to the rain
not losing to the wind
not losing to the snow nor to summer's heat
with a strong body
not fettered by desire
by no means offending anyone
always quietly smiling
every day four bowls of brown rice
miso and some vegetables to eat
in everything
count yourself last and put others before you
watching and listening, and understanding
and never forgetting
in the shade of the woods of the pines of the fields
being in a little thatched hut
if there is a sick child to the east
going and nursing over them
if there is a tired mother to the west
going and shouldering her sheaf of rice
if there is someone near death to the south
going and saying there's no need to be afraid
if there is a quarrel or a lawsuit to the north
telling them to leave off with such waste
when there's drought, shedding tears of sympathy
when the summer's cold, wandering upset
called a nobody by everyone
without being praised
without being blamed
such a person
I want to become

This is a poem that was found in his diary after he passed away.

The person he dreamt of becoming was not a great writer nor did wish for wealth or status.  His hero was a simple, humble, hardworking, and genuinely kindhearted human being who helped people in need.  His genuine wish while struggling with illness was to think of others and be of help to them.  We tend to be occupied with our own situation and become unhappy.  We tend to argue more rather than listening.
  This poem seems to tell us something more important than achieving or becoming 'something' in life.  He is not someone who achieved something in his lifetime, but a plain but dignified human being.  And yet, he is still highly respected and unintentionally became a hero of his beloved land.

More of his life will follow in the next blog!

No comments:

Post a Comment