Selected Poetry of Noriko Ibaraki

A small selection of poems by Noriko Ibaraki, translated by Hirotoshi Kimura.

Those Days of Diamond’s Glaring Scintillance

Life’s short
Very, very short
sixty or seventy years

How many rice seedlings will the farmer plant?
How many pies will the baker bake?
How many times will the teacher repeat the same things?

Grammar, math, the ecology of fish and whatnot
are dinned into the child’s head
in preparation for the real world

And then along come selective breeding
strife against vicious rule
charges against miscarriage of justice
soul-crushing drudgery
the picking after of a senseless war,
then scholarship, progress, marriage

One little baby’s birth, and then
worry, the desire for self-renewal
will all turn into luxuries

On your last day of this earthly sojourn
astonishment will strike
as you review your life
how few the days were
that you were truly alive–

only as many as your fingers can count;
haply among them is a fierce shaft of light
of the first glace at your girlfriend

Sure, we all have our own “truly-lived days”:
among those days of diamond’s glaring scintillance:
a red morning of blazing guns
a night at your atelier
a mid-day on your orchard
or perhaps a scrum before day-peep


Don’t blame anyone

Don’t blame anyone for
your heart being parched;
’tis you who’s left it adust.

Don’t blame your friends
for your being morose.
Suppleness of heart–who has lost it?

Don’t blame your kindred
for your being snippy,
but blame yourself, ever bumbling!

Don’t blame your reduced circumstances
for your fading aspirations;
they were frail from the beginning, simple as that.

Don’t blame this age
for your lusterless existence
and, by so doing, cast away your flickering dignity!

at least your sensibilities yourself,
you fool!


No more

No more
do I want to lean on ready-made philosophies.
No more
do I want to lean on ready-made religions.
No more
do I want to lean on ready-made academic edifices.
No more
do I want to lean on any manner of authority.
After so many years,
in my heart only that much rings deeply true.
These ears, these eyes,
These two legs, of mine–aren’t they enough, no?
What else do I need to lean on
the back of a chair?
English translation © 2015 Hirotoshi Kimura. All rights reserved.

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