Miyazawa Kenji (1896-1933) was a Japanese novelist and poet probably most famous for his novel, 銀河鉄道の夜, Night on the Galactic Railroad. But his most famous poem is this one: 雨にもまけず which means "won't be defeated by the rain."
Miyazawa Kenji struggled with health issues for years, eventually succumbing to an acute pneumonia illness. One reason why this poem is so popular is it was discovered posthumously in a small notebook he left behind. Did he write this for himself? Or was he hoping it would be read by others? The words were so strong and resolute despite his weakened state.
He ends with these lines:
That's the kind of person I want to be.
Ame ni mo Makezu: Original version
(see below for a more modern version with English translation)
Notes: ヰ ＝ イ (wi) イヒ ＝ イイ クワ = カ イフ = イウ
If you are like me and find katakana hard to read, Wikipedia kindly updated it into modern Japanese for us. I'm also including the English translation they provided.
Unbeaten by the rain
Unbeaten by the wind
Bested by neither snow nor summer heat
Strong of body
Free of desire
Always smiling quietly
Dining daily on four cups of brown rice
Some miso and a few vegetables
Observing all things with dispassion
But remembering well
In the meadow beneath a canopy of pines, living in a small, thatched-roof house
Going east to nurse the sick child
Going west to bear sheaves of rice for the weary mother
Going south to tell the dying man there is no cause for fear
Going north to tell those who fight to put aside their trifles
Shedding tears in time of drought
Wandering at a loss during the cold summer
Called useless by all
Nor a bother
Such is the person
I wish to be
Some corrections thanks I do know and things I don’t know and desire to know
This was my first experience with your program and I found it to be interesting with a sense of practice with things I do now and things I don’t know and deserve know
Thank you and I’m glad you found it interesting. It’s a very famous poem. I will do more of these cultural spotlights in the near future. 🙂
I thought this was very sad. It is as if he doesn’t want to feel anything, physically or emotionally. Such existence is lonely and painful.
It definitely encapsulates the Japanese idea of 我慢 (gaman; endurance; patience; perseverance). In the extreme, that can be a little sad.
I guess I misunderstood the text then. 🙂 I thought he wanted to isolate himself like he had given up. I’m not very good interpreting poems. I also find hard to make sense of lyrics sometimes.