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« notes from nepal | Main | Becoming »

a Japanese friend translates a poem

We met in Bhaktapur, Nepal three hundred years ago.

He has a famous beard, laughs a lot and writes haiku.

His wife is known for her oils and watercolor paintings with a touch of fantastic harmony and mystery.

Every morning we sat near a Hindu temple when a man rang a huge iron bell at 7:30. Exactly.

Ame ni mo  Makezu (Be not Defeated by the Rain)


standing against the rain,

standing against the wind,

standing against the snow,

the intense heat of summer

keeping a strong body


free from desire

free from anger

regardless, smiling peacefully


four bowls of brown rice

miso, a few vegetables, enough for a day

putting myself aside in everything

taking care of others first

watching, listening carefully to the inner meaning,


never forgetting


beside the pine forest in the field

sitting in a little thatched roof house


hearing news about a sick child in the east

I go and nurse him

hearing news about a tired mother in the west

I go and help her, rice bundles on my back

hearing news about a man on his death bed in the south

I go and comfort him

hearing news about a quarrel or lawsuit in the north

I go and tell them not to be so petty


weeping with them in a drought

aimlessly wandering around with them in the cold summer

being called useless by others

never being praised

never receiving complaints


such a person

I want to be

Ame ni mo makezu (Be not Defeated by the Rain[1]) is a famous poem written by Kenji Miyazawa,[2] a poet from the northern prefectureof Iwate in Japan who lived from 1896 to 1933. The poem was found posthumously in a small black notebook in one of the poet's trunks.

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