Sunday, January 31, 2010

Adieu To Janaury.

OH, CRUEL MONTH! You were not that cruel this year. You do not deserve our pitiful whining about spring. Here is a poem about you ... I think it is.

January in Kyoto by Nishiwaki Junzaburo (1894-1982)

JANUS, old man,
Your name is damp and grey and too prolonged
A ring to rattle in my verse;
You double-faced, diluted churl of churls,
You corn-dull, poppy-wilted, beaver-brown,
You snow-eater, a parasite on roots and berries,
Iconoclast of gins and perries,
You're really one of the pariah dogs
Yelping, thrash-worth, at the belated gods.
I know the deities would rather inflate
And flow in pipes than in metric odes, but now
You suddenly brought us shy myth,
When we, disguised as Zeus and Hermes, went
At cuckoo-crow at the hell lady's door,
In the Hiei foot-hills by pebbly-purring streams.

We went into a peasant's cottage to see
How one cleans and adorns one's range
With a sprig of rue and a tangle of hips
To honour the bluff god of the kitchen fire.
The old baucis-and-philemon tree rustled its top:
"Reverend sirs, you are early. Well now."
My friend, Ben Johnson scholar at the university,
And a complete parr angler, could speak
The Yase doric: "Look what we've got,
Such lovely slender buds; may we leave
These things with you by this mercury bush,
As we're going to see Emau Convent up there?"

etc, etc. (Jane Austen is almost on; gotta get along)

When we returned full circle to the roots
Of our orchids, we maundered to sanctify
Fertility ... magic jabber ... over cups of tea.
The wife decanted golden mead to immortalize
Our chats and our pseudo-goldliness, but we tried
Hard to hide our mortality . . .

I KNOW ... I'm horrible to quote only part of a poem. See you in February - femminismo

1 comment:

Candace said...

Okay now you are not going to believe this but I don't think there are any coincidences. Zeus and Hermes and Baucis and Philemon...
the reason I am going to Spoleto in Charleston this year is to see a play about just this myth.
When I read this poem and came to the part referencing the tale, well, I just had to snicker.
What a wavelength!
Pal Candace