I recently became a fan of poet and songwriter Misuzu Kaneko. I had long been aware of her poems for children, but until recently I had never wondered about the poet herself. Now that I know more about her, I am hit harder and more deeply by her poems than I was before.
I’ve tried to translate the short poem that inspired today’s etegami, but I haven’t been able to capture the rhythm of the Japanese words, or convey the unsentimental pathos of the original. I will keep working on it. But the meaning goes something like this:
The Big Haul
Beneath a glowing sunrise,
the fishing boats return,
loaded with Ooba Sardines.
On shore, villagers celebrate like its a festival.
In the sea, sardines hold a funeral
for their tens of thousands of mates.
This is an original Etegami painted with sumi ink and water-soluble gansai paints on a soft washi postcard. Etegami is a traditional Japanese folk art that combines simple images with thoughtful words.