“Earth Day” poems: Japanese poets on Nature – and Human Nature

Planet Earth_and its near-Space debris

NASA photo:  Planet Earth and its ‘near-Space’ debris

Dobashi Jiju

(1909-1993, Yamanashi, Japan)

The Endearing Sea


As I lived far away from the sea,

it gradually passed more out of my mind every day,

like its distance.

After days and days,

it became like a dot, no longer looking like a sea.

I felt compelled to go the movies

to see the sea

on the screen.


But when I slept at night,

the sea came to me, pushing down my chest

and raising clear blue waves.

I just slept, even in the daytime,



the sea kept mounting big waves

on my chest,

covering me with spray from a storm.

And sometimes it washed up beautiful white bones,

which had sunk to its bottom,

up around my ribs.




Aida Tsunao

(1914-1990, Tokyo, Japan)

The Wild Duck


Did the wild duck say,

“Don’t ever become a wild duck,”

at that time ?


We plucked the bird,

burned off its hair,

broiled its meat and devoured it,

and, licking our lips,

we began to leave the edge of the marsh

where an evening mist was hanging,

when we heard a voice:

“You could still chew

on my bones.”


We looked back

and saw the laughter of the wild duck

and its backbone gleaming.




Ishihara Yoshiro

(1919-1980, Hiroshima, Japan)



There is the mouth of the river.

That is where the river ends.

That is where the sea begins.

The river made sure of that place

and overflowed

and ran over it.

Riding over that place,

the river also produced the fertile riverbed.

It has defined its banks

with two streaks of intention

which cannot mix with the sea,

while the river itself keeps flowing

into the sea,

farther than the sea,

and more slowly than the sea.




So Sakon

(1919-2006, Fukuoka, Japan)

The Earth


The rocket was blasting away.

Green apples were swaying.

The void was blowing up reality.

Through the silver sky a snake went flowing by.

The rocket was blasting.

While blasting, it stayed motionless.

Stars were scattering over the ground.

Jewels were dreaming with their eyes closed.

The Earth fell in the garden of a future morning.

The rocket, unable to fly, kept blasting.



Translations from Japanese into English:

Naoshi Koriyama and Edward Lueders