In the Footsteps of Bashō

芭蕉の後を追って
Bashō no ato wo otte


      by Beverley George, ML Grace, Michael Thorley, David Terelinck,
      Catherine Smith, Robert Miller, Carmel Summers, and Lynette Arden
      (Japanese translations by Aya Yuhki)

Edited by Beverley George and David Terelinck
ベバリー・ジョージとデイヴィット・テレリンク編

In the autumn of 2010, twelve Australians travelled from Edo to Yamagata following the footsteps of Bashō on his “Oku no Hosomichi” [Narrow Road to the Far North].
2010年秋、十二人のオーストラリア人が芭蕉の奥の細道の跡をたどって江戸から山形まで旅をした.


oku no hosomichi
we pause among cedars . . .
the faint scuff
of Bashō’s straw sandals
on the leaf-strewn path                                                                                Beverley George

杉の間に憩へば奥の細道の芭蕉の草鞋の落葉踏む音
sugi no ma ni/ikoeba oku no/hosomichi no/ Bashō no waraji no/ochiba fumu oto


rain on Sumida
from a stone plinth Bash
ō feels
the river’s pull . . .
his unseen footprints
mingle with mine                                                                                             ML Grace

隅田川の声聞きし芭蕉の足跡はわが足跡に混じりてゐるも
sumidagawa no koe/kikishi Bashō no/ashioto wa/waga ashiato ni/majirite irumo


we shed shoes
for socks and slippers
our soft feet
learn again how to walk
in this fragile world                                                                                          Michael Thorley

靴ぬぎて柔らかき足は学びたり危ふきこの世をいかに歩むかを
kutsu nugite/yawarakaki ashi wa/manabi tari/ayauki kono yo wo/ikani ayumu ka wo


tea cups
glazed with matcha
the imprint
of tatami on my knees,
laughter on your lips                                                                                       David Terelinck

抹茶碗膝の畳の目の痕に君が口元に浮かぶ微笑み
machawan/hiza no tatami no/me no ato ni/kimi ga kuchimoto ni/ukabu hohoemi


bamboo fence
at Tsurug
a-jo castle
bound with twine . . .
echoes of lost soldiers
bound by tradition to die                                                                              Catherine Smith

紐で結はく鶴ヶ城の竹の垣敗れし兵は死ぬる習はし
himo de yuwaku/tsurugajō no/take no kaki/yabureshi hei wa/shinuru narawashi


I kneel
at T
ōshōgū shrine
and bow
to whatever in Shinto
is also in me                                                                                                        Michael Thorley

ひざまづき東照宮で礼をせり神道はなべてわが内にあれば
hizamazuki/tōshōgū de/iya wo seri/shintō wa nabete/waga uchi ni areba


moss-covered lanterns
beside cedar and cypress—
in the stillness
of this Shinto shrine
a shift in my beliefs                                                                                         David Terelinck

木のそばの苔むす灯籠み社の静寂に信仰を見つめ直すも
ki no soba no/koke musu tōrō/miyashiro no/seijaku ni shinkō wo/mitsume naosu mo


sakaki branch
offered at the altar
a holy man
wishing us god-speed
on our journey with Bashō                                                                          Robert Miller

祭壇に捧げし榊 神官は芭蕉との旅の無事を祈れり
saidan ni/sasageshi sakaki/shinkan wa/ Bashō to no tabi no/buji wo inoreri


moon . . . stay awhile
rest on the dark pines
of Matsushima . . .
from my tatami-mat
your old familiar face                                                                                      ML Grace

月しばし松島の松にやすらへよ畳から見る変はらぬ面輪
tsuki shibashi/matsushima no matsu ni/yasuraeyo/tatami kara miru/kawaranu omowa


sunrise
and the banking of clouds . . .
I thank the kami
for pine-clad islands
that smudge a pewter sea                                                                           Beverley George

の出と雲神に感謝す松生ふる島点々と白目*の海に      *一種の合金
hi no de to kumo/kami ni kanshasu/matsu ouru/shima tenten to/shirome no umi ni


snow-dusted hills
behind Hojin no Ie . . .
leaving the log fire
I close the door
that Bashō opened                                                                                         ML Grace

雪山負ふ封人の家の炉を離り芭蕉が開けし戸をわが閉めぬ
yukiyama ou/hōjin no ie no/ro wo sakari/ Bashō ga akeshi/to wo waga shimenu


with thoughts of home
I place a pebble on a rock
at Sashoseki
will others ever wonder
who placed it here . . . or why                                                                   
Carmel Summers

くつろぎて殺傷石に小石置く誰がなぜ置きしかと他人(ひと)は思ふや
kutsurogite/sassh
ōseki ni/koishi oku/ta ga naze okishi ka to/hito wa omou ya


beside stone stairs
small statues wear
bibs
rain-stained and torn
tugged by the wind                                                                                         Lynette Arden

石段のそばの彫像のよだれかけ風雨に曝されぼろぼろになる
ishidan no/soba no chōzō no/yodarekake/fūu ni sarasare/boroboro ni naru


at Zuiganji temple
smiling bodhisattvas
in moss-stilled air
not even a crow’s call
stirs this cedar cathedral                                                                               Carmel Summers

瑞巌寺に微笑む菩薩苔むせる静寂を鴉の声も乱さず
Zuiganji ni/hohoemu bosatsu/koke museru/seijaku wo/karasu no koe mo/midasazu


Geibi Gorge
a boatman sings of his love
for the river . . .
I don’t understand the words
but believe each one of them                                                                   
Catherine Smith

猊鼻峡舟人唄ふ川への愛言葉分かねどわれそを信ず
Geibikyō/funabito utau/kawa e no ai/―/ kotoba wakane do/ware so wo shinzu


ambulance
in the Sendai night
sad song—
this time at least
I need no translation                                                                                      Michael Thorley

仙台の夜の救急車の音あはれ翻訳なしでそを理解せり
Sendai no/yo no kyūkyūsha no/oto aware/honyaku nashi de/so wo rikai seri


steam rises
between curved bushes
naked in hot springs
the arc of breast and buttock
the sameness of us all                                                                                   Beverley George

曲線の繁みに温泉の湯気のぼる胸や尻の弧はみな似通ひて
kyokusen no/shigemi ni onsen no/yuge noboru/mune ya shiri no ko wa/mina nikayoite


purple grapes
plump and heavy on the vines
the sweetness of
this harvest, this season,
this time of life                                                                                                  David Terelinck

紫の葡萄は蔓に瑞々し季節の生の実りの甘みに
murasaki no/budō wa tsuru ni/mizumizushi/kisetsu no sei no/minori no amami ni


This sequence was first published in The Tanka Journal #38, 2011. It was translated into Japanese by Aya Yuhki for inclusion in Only in Silence by Beverley George, Pearl Beach, Australia: Kenilworth Road, 2017, pages 32–35.