Thursday, December 1, 2011
Number 310: Miyazawa Kenji "Be Not Defeated by the Rain"
Be not Defeated by the Rain
Be not defeated by the rain, Nor let the wind prove your better.
Succumb not to the snows of winter. Nor be bested by the heat of summer.
Be strong in body. Unfettered by desire. Not enticed to anger. Cultivate a quiet joy.
Count yourself last in everything. Put others before you.
Watch well and listen closely. Hold the learned lessons dear.
A thatch-roof house, in a meadow, nestled in a pine grove's shade.
A handful of rice, some miso, and a few vegetables to suffice for the day.
If, to the East, a child lies sick: Go forth and nurse him to health.
If, to the West, an old lady stands exhausted: Go forth, and relieve her of burden.
If, to the South, a man lies dying: Go forth with words of courage to dispel his fear.
If, to the North, an argument or fight ensues:
Go forth and beg them stop such a waste of effort and of spirit.
In times of drought, shed tears of sympathy.
In summers cold, walk in concern and empathy.
Stand aloof of the unknowing masses:
Better dismissed as useless than flattered as a "Great Man".
This is my goal, the person I strive to become.
--by Kenji Miyazawa
Translated by David Sulz
Hap Notes: Miyazawa Kenji(1896-1933) –(Miyazawa is the family name which is often spoken first in Japan. Just like in China where film star Chow Yung Fat's name in America would be Yung Fat Chow. Chow is the family name)– was born to a well-to-do family in Hanamaki City in Japan. He studied agriculture in college and became interested in writing when he lived in Tokyo. He returned to the farming area where he was born and raised where he taught school, saved up his money and published his own poetry and collections of children's stories.
While his books were not particularly big sellers in his lifetime, he has come to be one of the most beloved Children's Literature authors of all time in Japan. If you are an anime fan you may know many of works. The anime films based on Miyazawa's stories include Night on the Galactic Railroad, The Acorns and the Wildcat, Matasaburo the Wind Imp, The Restaurant of Many Orders, The Biography of Budori Gusko, Kenji's Trunk, The Twin Stars, The Cat's Office, The Coat of a Glacier Mouse and the biographical Kenji's Spring.
Miyazawa was deeply interested in the natural world and was an authority in many of the sciences including biology geology and botany. He even learned Esperanto and translated his book into the "world language." He was an ardent believer in the value of all creatures, eschewed his family's business and inheritance and was integral in helping farmers from his local area understand newer agricultural methods. He was a staunch vegetarian and Buddhist and was one of those people who seem to live on the nourishment one gets from a good walk in the forest and healthy gulps of fresh air.
Today's poem, ("Ame ni mo makezu" in Japanese) used to be (and still may be) a poem all Japanese school children were required to memorize and speak in unison. It is said to be the most revered poem of the 20th century in Japan. It has many translations, so look around the web for your favorite one. I think this one does it justice. It is said this poem was one of the last he wrote and was found on his desk after his death from pneumonia at the young age of 37.
You can find more Kenji Miyazawa here: www.kenji-world.net/english/