One Poem by Hirato Renkichi

Our new poetry editor, Wendy Xu, has selected one poem by Hirato Renkichi, translated by Sho Sugita, for her monthly series that brings original poetry to the screens of Hyperallergic readers.

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Installation view of ‘Sarah Sze’ (2015) at Tanya Bonakdar, New York (photo by Elisa Wouk Almino for Hyperallergic)

The Footsteps of Joyous Life


In the quiet early hours of the night like this
Listening to the firmly frolicking blood calmed
Scattering above the goldsmith’s workbench
Like a thin, thin transparent echo,
Out of nowhere
Biting tightly on the hearts of the experienced

Though thin, a truly spirited movement
Swiftly, one after the other sequenced
Precisely, the net transverses at will
Looking as though flowing while tightening various knots of a thousand links.

To the small gestures of a loved child, the parents
To experience a deep surprise, too
Must be inside this kind of beautiful air.

Affection of brothers, the affection of each other
Dotted in binding, too
Again must be this kind of beautiful air of infection.

Here the grotesque ghost also hides in shadows
With bewildering borders, too
Gets sucked into the beautiful ambiences of life,
And from the other faraway bank
Even the high sounds of the bugle are thought to echo.

All things purified and washed away by a river,
All good spirits a means of escape only when unified
Recognize this!
Here, there is direction.
Pay attention!

Translated by Sho Sugita


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Born Kawahata Seiichi on December 9th 1893 in Osaka, Hirato Renkichi (平戸廉吉) attended Sophia University in Tokyo for three years before dropping out and attending Gyosei Gakko to study Italian. He started writing poetry in 1912, first publishing in Banso under the guidance of Kawaji Ryuko. Although he worked at Hochi Shimbun News and Chuo Geijutsu Art Publishing, he suffered from a pulmonary disease, often failing to make ends meet for his family. He passed away on July 20, 1922 in Tokyo, at the age of 29.

Sho Sugita lives in Matsumoto, Japan. His poems and translations have appeared widely in journals, and his translation of Hirato Renkichi’s Collected Writing: Spiral Staircase is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse (Spring 2017). More information can be found at www.shosugita.net


Readers are encouraged to submit 3–5 poems as a PDF to Wendy Xu for consideration at [email protected].

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