Friday, October 17, 2014

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.

— Kenji Miyazawa

Ame ni mo Makezu, the best known poem of the best known poet from Iwate, Japan was discovered hidden in the lid of a trunk after Kenji Miyazawa's death in 1933. The poem was found in a black notebook that contained Miyazawa's last poems amidst the repetitious writing of the Buddhist chant, "namu myoho renge kyo."

Thought to be written in 1931 while Miyazawa was bedridden, Be not Defeated by the Rain has the author reflecting on life and a desire for a better world. The version presented here was translated by David Sulz. The poet Gary Snyder was the first to translate a substantial portion of Miyazawa’s poetic oeuvre into English.

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