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Full translation of peace poem 'Live' recited at Okinawa war memorial ceremony

Rinko Sagara reads out her poem for peace at a ceremony to remember the victims of the Battle of Okinawa, in the city of Itoman, Okinawa Prefecture, on June 23, 2018. (Mainichi)

The following is a provisional translation of a poem titled "Ikiru" (Live) by Rinko Sagara, 14, a third-year student at Minatogawa Junior High School in Urasoe, Okinawa Prefecture, recited during a June 23, 2018 ceremony in the city of Itoman to remember the victims of the Battle of Okinawa.


I am living.

Standing on the earth transmitting the mantle's heat,

My body embraced by a pleasant, humid wind,

With the scent of grass in my nostrils,

My ears tuned to the distant sound of the surf.

I am now living

How beautiful this island where I now live is.

The sparking blue sea,

The shining waves releasing spray as they hit the rocks,

The bleating of goats,

The babbling of brooks,

Small paths leading through the fields,

Mountains bursting with green colors,

The gentle tunes of the sanshin (three-stringed traditional instrument),

The light of the sun shining down.

What a beautiful island,

Where I was brought up.

With all my senses and sensitivity,

I feel this island. And my passion grows slowly and steadily.

I am living out this moment.

The magnificence of this moment

And the preciousness of this moment

Is my peace at present

And it expands inside me.

How should I describe this irresistible feeling that wells up?

This precious moment

This irreplaceable moment

This moment in which I now live.

Seventy-three years ago,

That day turned this island that I love into an island of death.

The chirping of small birds turned into screams of fear.

The gentle tunes of the sanshin vanished into the roaring sounds of bombs.

The blue skies were obscured by iron rain.

The scent of the grass was mixed with the stench of death,

And the shining surface of the sea was filled with battleships.

Flames spewing from flamethrowers, the wailing of young children,

Houses burned to the ground, the smell of gunpowder.

The ground shaking from the impact of bombing, the sea tainted red with blood.

People who had changed, like the evil spirits of the mountains and rivers.

Memories of a frenzied battle in a burning hell.

Everyone was living

No different at all from me,

People living for all their worth.

Without any doubts, they had painted a picture.

Of their lives, and their futures.

They had families, they had friends and they had lovers.

They had jobs. They had a reason for living.

They had small moments of happiness in their lives. Hand in hand they lived, and they were humans, like me.

But then

Those things were destroyed, taken from them.

The age we live in is different, but that is all.

Innocent lives. Those days when they lived ordinary lives.

Below Mabuni Hill the gentle sea expands before my eyes.

I am saddened, and cannot forget all the things that happened to this island.

I clench my hands together and vow.

Remembering the fallen, I make a vow from my heart.

As long as I live,

To never ever accept this war that claimed so many lives.

To never repeat this past in the future.

To strive for a world in which all humans live in peace, transcending national borders, transcending race, transcending religion, and overcoming all interests.

To create a world in which the ability to live and value lives is not violated by anyone.

To be willing to make an effort to create peace.

You surely feel it.

The beauty of this island.

You surely know.

The sadness of this island.

And you are living in this moment, just like me.

We are living together.

So we should understand

The senselessness of war and what true peace is.

Not in our minds, but in our hearts.

That there is no real peace

From possessing the foolish force of war potential.

And that peace is living ordinary lives.

That it is living, while making those lives shine with all our might.

I am living.

Together with everyone.

And I will continue to live.

Cherishing each and every day.

With thoughts of peace, with prayers for peace.

Because our futures

Are extensions of this moment.

In other words, now is our future.

My island, which I love,

Our island, which we are proud of,

And all life that lives on this island.

My friends, my family, who live with me now.

Let us keep living together.

Let us send out true peace from our beautiful homeland, surrounded by blue.

Let each one of us stand up and walk together toward the future.

Embraced by the wind on Mabuni Hill,

My life cries out.

Resonating with the past, present and future.

Let this requiem reach the sorrowful past.

Let the sounds of the living reverberate to the future.

I will live out this moment.

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