Original Title: 山羊の歌
Author: Chūya Nakahara (中原 中也, Nakahara Chūya)
Translator: Ry Beville
Genres: Literature, Poetry
The gateway to the shrine is draped in sunlight
The leaves of the elm are fluttering gently
The cobalt shade of summer beneath the trees at noon
Is working to ease my lingering regrets
Note: Due to length, the quotes used in this review are excerpts, not the entire poem.
Since I have started this project, I’ve learned so much about these authors and how they inspired their characters in Bungou Stray Dogs. There is something satisfying about putting a piece together, about figuring out a characteristic and connecting it with something that happened in the author’s life or one of their stories or poems. Because of this sense of familiarity, there are some authors that I have sought after explicitly in order to attain it.
Chūya Nakahara was such an author (well, poet). Because Chūya is my second-favorite character in Bungou Stray Dogs after Akutagawa, I wanted to read his work more so than others. Chūya Nakahara has been argued as modern Japan’s finest poet, and when someone slaps a title like that on a person, it makes their work irresistible. The problem is that Chūya’s work in English is extremely hard to get a hold of. I usually order books that I can’t find through Mel-Cat, but the only ones that are listed under his name are in Japanese, and I’m far from fluent enough to be able to read them.
So, of course, that meant that if I wanted to read the English translations, I had to buy them – and I finally got around to purchasing Poems of the Goat.
And it’s beautiful.
This longing that consumed me in my youth of quiet sadness
Is on its way to disappearing into the darkened night.
Even with the sentiment that there is something lost in translations, even without the visual effects of the Japanese language, even without the tone that is offered through different Japanese pronouns, these poems are so beautiful. They’re full of love and loneliness and insecurity, themes that reveal Chūya Nakahara as a person, and themes that I am drawn to on instinct. I was swept away by the haunting visuals, the elegant language, and the flowing, musical style that he was acclaimed for.
I love poetry because it feels personal. I love that the poet is free to either be vague or blunt, whimsical or dark, emotional or detached. It opens a window into their soul, into who they really are. By reading Poems of the Goat, I have glanced into the soul of Chūya Nakahara, and I love it so much.