The Filthy Sadness of the Fox

汚れつちまつた悲しみ cut-paper art

cut paper and torn / woodprivate collection

汚れつちまつた悲しみに…     UPON THE SADNESS ALL SMEARED UP..

汚れつちまつた悲しみに            Upon the sadness all smeared up, 今日も小雪の降りかかる            Another sprinkling day of snow. 汚れつちまつた悲しみに            Upon the sadness all smeared up, 今日も風さへ吹きすぎる            Another day the winds will blow.

汚れつちまつた悲しみは             Sadness that's been all smeared up, たとへば狐の革裘〔かはごろも〕 Might compare to the pelt of fox. 汚れつちまつた悲しみは             Sadness that's been all smeared up, 小雪のかかつてちぢこまる          In the flurry of snow, cringing down.

汚れつちまつた悲しみは              Sadness that's been all smeared up, なにのぞむなくねがふなく           Nothing to hope for, nothing to desire. 汚れつちまつた悲しみは              Sadness that's been all smeared up, 倦怠〔けだい〕のうちに死を夢む  Langorously dreams of death.

汚れつちまつた悲しみに                 Sadness that's been all smeared up, いたいたしくも怖気〔おぢけ〕づき  Cringing spineless, so achingly. 汚れつちまつた悲しみに                 Sadness that's been all smeared up, なすところもなく日は暮れる… Nothing can be done, the day turns to dusk... -中原中也 Nakahara, Chūya

The two creative loves of my life have always been the image and the word; art and literature. To tell the truth, I always thought my career was going to be based on writing. That's why I studied lit. in college (funny how things change around on a person). I survived classes on poetry, but I've always been a prose guy. Every once in awhile, a good poem gets through to me, though.

I asked my (amazing) wife (she checks on the adjectives) to recommend a Japanese poem for me. The one I eventually settled on is by Nakahara, Chūya, who managed to become one of Japan's most famous 20th century poets despite losing the woman he loved to a good friend and dying at the age of 30.

The english version I found tranlates yogorechimatta kanashimi as "Sadness that's been all smeared up". It's the idea of sadness being filthy, spoiled, corrupted that caught my imagination. Or maybe the sadness comes from a filthy place. Or maybe it's a kind of parasite, living off of memory while eating away at us. The original is wide open to interpretation since, like alot of Japanese, it lacks a subject.

There's a pattern of dark themes and depressing lives among these other amazing Japanese poets as well: Kotaro Takamura (wife went mad) Masaoka Shiki (sickly and dying for most of his life)

Illustration Friday