Ishikawa Takuboku


Ishikawa Takuboku 石川 啄木

February 20, 1886–April 13, 1912.

a Japanese poet. He died of tuberculosis.
Well known as both a tanka and 'modern-style' (shintaishi or simply shi) or 'free-style' (jiyūshi) poet, he began as a member of the Myōjō group of naturalist poets but later joined the "socialistic" group of Japanese poets and renounced naturalism.

His major works were two volumes of tanka poems plus his diaries:

Ichi aku no suna 一握の砂
(A Handful of Sand) 1910

Kanashiki gangu 悲しき玩具
(Sad Toys) published posthumously in 1912

© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


Takuboku Ki 啄木忌 (たくぼくき) Takuboku memorial day
observance kigo for late spring

. Memorial Days of Famous People - SPRING .

raamen ni megane ga kumoru Takuboku ki

from the ramen soup
my glasses become clouded -
Takuboku Day

Miyake Yayoi 三宅やよい

97 haiku about this kigo:
source : saijiki/takubokuki.htm


source : takuboku_no_iki

悲みこそ とはのちから

Takuboku Memorial Hall, Morioka

Takuboku Ishikawa, he is a great poet running in short period.
This hall is based on the house that he dreamed to build in his hometown.
You can feel his impressive life and literature in this space.

source : www.takuboku.com


source : siran13tb/folder

Takuboku and his wife Setsuko

It's like visiting the grave of a first love,
This being in the suburbs.”

“I have given up this world
As full with taint, yet there is nowhere to move”

“Suddenly awake, I closed my eyes, relieved,
Thinking of the darkness at the end of my dream”

“Only a glance! That single sight of her
Started this wild blaze in my heart”

Sanford Goldstein and Sheishi Shinoda, translators

from "Sad Toys" (1907)

- Shared by Louis Osofsky -
Joys of Japan, 2012


Chen-ou Liu from Canada writes:

Takubok's work and his concept of "poems to eat" had inspired me to try my hand at tanka.

The following is an excerpt from my Simply Haiku interview with Robert D. Wilson, in which I explain my change from writing free verse poetry to tanka and briefly analyze his work.

RDW: A follow up question, what brought the change from writing free verse poetry to tanka?

CL: After almost a year of striving to write so-called free verse poetry without much success, I came across a book of tanka poetry, Sad Toy, written by Ishikawa Takuboku and translated by Sanford Goldstein and Seishi Shinoda. In the introduction, Takuboku emphasized that

“My mind, which was yearning after some indescribable thing from morning to night, could find an outlet to some extent only by making poems. And I had absolutely nothing except that mind… I want to say this: a very complicated process was needed to turn actual feelings into poetry… Poetry must not be what is usually called poetry. It must be an exact report, an honest diary, of the changes in a man’s emotional life. Accordingly, it must be fragmentary; it must not have organization… Each second is one which never comes back in our life. I hold it dear. I don’t want to let it pass without doing anything for it. To express that moment, tanka, which is short and takes not much time to compose, is most convenient…”

The emotional power, socio-political sensibilities and colloquial language of Takuboku’s tanka, a kind of poetry in the moment and for the moment, appealed to me, and I came to view tanka as a poetic diary that recorded the changes in the emotional life of the poet. I went on to read Carl Sesar’s Takuboku: Poems to Eat, and got a deeper understanding of Takuboku’s conception of a new kind of poetry, “poems to eat:”

“The name means poems made with both feet upon the ground. It means poems written without putting any distance from actual life. They are not delicacies, or dainty dishes, but food indispensable for us in our daily meal. To define poetry in this way may be to pull it down from its established position, but to me it means to make poetry, which has added nothing or detracted nothing from actual life, into something which cannot be dispensed with.”

In some aspects, Takuboku’s view on poetry is similar to that of Dionne Brand: “Poetry is here, just here. Something wrestling with how we live… something honest.” Since encountering Takuboku’s poetry, I started writing tanka as a diary and kept on reading books of or on tanka. Some of these books opened up a new world for me.

I console myself a little by turning the self at each moment into words and reading them. -- Ishikawa Takuboku

Here is my haiku dedicated to him:

reading Poems to Eat
What’s the use of poetry?
she asks with big eyes


Father’s words linger
can you put food on the table?
reading Poems to Eat

source : A haiku sequence by Chen-ou Liu


mi ni shimu ya kisha takuboku no fude atsuki

feeling autumn coldness —
a passionate pen of Takuboku
in his reporter days

Tr. Fay Aoyagi

Hashimoto Sueko 橋本末子


Japanese Reference


Ishikawa Takuboku


hirugao ya Shibutami mura ni ie sukoshi

these noonflowers -
in Shibutami village there are
only a few houses

Ameyama Minoru 飴山實

Shibutamimura is the birthplace of Takuboku.

Look at more photos :
source : takuboku-shibutami.htm

Related words

***** . Raamen, Ramen, ラーメン Chinese noodle soup .

***** Introducing Japanese Poets 



Gabi Greve said...

- Japan Times -
The society of Takuboku Ishikawa’s era was in dramatic political flux, and its complex issues became his personal obsessions. After his death, Takuboku’s preoccupations came to be seen as a symbol of the social and emotional upheavals of his times.
One of Takuboku’s most famous tanka is “Labor” (I have given these short poems titles to sharpen their focus in translation). Here we see the struggle and the toll it takes on his psyche.

However long I work
Life remains a trial.
I just stare into my palms.

Another is “Revolution”:

Nothing seems to disconcert my wife and friends
More than my going on about revolution
Even when struck down by illness.

During his long stays in the hospital, Takuboku’s world shrank. Witness him in “The Patient”:

One push of the door, a single step
And the corridor seems to stretch
As far as the eye can see.

And yet he never lost his compassionate gaze, evident in another tanka about a patient written while convalescing:

I called out to him but he didn’t answer.
When I took a good look
The patient in the next bed was weeping.
Roger Pulvers’ collection of 200 translations of tanka by Takuboku Ishikawa is published by Kawade Shobo Shinsha under the title, “Eigo de yomu Takuboku no Tanka.”

Gabi Greve said...

ame ni nureshi
yogisha no mado ni
yamaai no machi no
tomoshibi no iro


Reflected in the rain-washed windows of a night train:
the colors of this valley town's lamps .

Tr. and comment by Nippoem Reajer