karappo-no torikago-ga ari oshougatsu
a birdcage in front of me
the New Year
Nenten Tsubouchi (1944- ). From "Hyakunen-no ie" (Home of a hundred years) (1993), Chuusekisha, Tokyo.
Rather than the poet feeling that the New Year is a completely empty open slate, the object that has entered his consciousness in relationship to the New Year is a birdcage. Inside the cage there is nothing at all -- not even a water bath or seed tray. Although the cage is therefore full of possibilities, after all, it is a cage for keeping something unable to escape. One assumes that this is the feeling the poet has concerning the year to come.
Selected, translated and commented on by Dhugal J. Lindsay