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Poetry by Miyazawa Kenji: Speaking With Eyes, Daydreaming On The Trail & Strong in the Rain

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Speaking With Eyes

It's not long now

It just won't stop

Gurgling and gushing up

I haven't slept all night and the blood keeps flowing and flowing

It's blue and still out there

It looks like death...and very soon at that

And yet I feel the most magnificent breeze

The pure light is within reach

As this clear wind rushes toward me

Swelling from a blue sky

The blue is the blue of a rush mat scarred by fire

Of waves of autumn blossoms formed

In flowers like hair, like young maple buds

Dressed in your black frock coat

Could you be on your way home from a medical conference

If death takes me now I cannot complain

Seeing how diligently and cleverly you have attended me

Could my indifference to suffering

Despite the constant flow of blood

Be a sign that the soul is now half-departed from the body

My sole torment is that because of this blood

I am unable to tell you this

In your eyes I am no doubt a wretched sight

But from here...after all

All I can see is that clear blue sky

And a transparent wind

Daydreaming On The Trail

A lonely stretch, in the bind of poor fishing and drought

following the ocean

crossing pass after pass,

fields of wild reeds,

I've come this far alone,

dozing in the pale sun

on the sand of a dried-up riverbed

back and shoulder chilled

something bothered me-

I think at that last quartzite pass

I left the oak gate in the fence

of the cow pasture open

probably because I was hurrying-

a white gate-

did I close it or not?

light cool sky,

mistletoe on chestnut floats in vision

many layered clouds upriver

cool lattice of sunlight

some unknown big bird



Strong in the Rain

Strong in the rain

Strong in the wind

Strong against the summer heat and snow

He is healthy and robust

Free from desire

He never loses his temper

Nor the quiet smile on his lips

He eats four go of unpolished rice

Miso and a few vegetables a day

He does not consider himself

In whatever occurs . . . his understanding

Comes from observation and experience

And he never loses sight of things

He lives in a little thatched-roof hut

In a field in the shadows of a pine tree grove

If there is a sick child in the east

He goes there to nurse the child

If there's a tired mother in the west

He goes to her and carries her sheaves

If someone is near death in the south

He goes and says, "Don't be afraid"

If there are strife and lawsuits in the north

He demands that the people put an end to their pettiness

He weeps at the time of drought

He plods about at a loss during the cold summer

Everyone calls him Blockhead

No one sings his praises

Or takes him to heart . . .

That is the kind of person

I want to be


Poet Kenji Miyazawa, who lived from 1896 to 1933, depicted his near-death experience in his poem "Speaking with the Eyes." Despite being unable to speak due to excessive bleeding in his lungs, he tried to communicate to his doctor through his eyes that he understood his condition and believed he was transitioning to a better place. It's important to note that Miyazawa did not actually pass away at that moment.

As a devout Buddhist, Miyazawa believed that dying was merely a journey to a different state of existence. He saw it as moving from this world to another. Wanting to die happily is a common sentiment among us all, though it should not be confused with directly stating that one would willingly choose death. Ideally, a natural or old age-related death would be preferred over a sudden and unexpected demise, as very few would anticipate or desire such an outcome.

Miyazawa Kenji, originally known as an agriculture teacher, gained recognition as a poet only posthumously. However, his poems have since gained a dedicated following, particularly among ecologists, Buddhists, and avant-garde literary enthusiasts. Poems like 'Daydreaming On The Trail' showcase a sophisticated form of artistry that reveals a worldview which connects the intricacies of human life to the very essence of nature. They emphasize the interconnectedness of all living beings within the vast expanse of the universe, and highlight how compassion and enlightenment can be derived through observing and understanding nature.

In the poem "Strong in the Rain," Miyazawa expresses his desire to be labeled as a "Blockhead." However, this blockhead, or fool, might eventually be seen as a visionary. According to Miyazawa, the future is closely connected to the present and the past. It is all part of a vast collection of time referred to as "the monstrous bright accumulation of time." Whether one is alive or deceased, or whether it's you, me, or someone else, we all experience this blending of time, solidified into the current moment as we reflect on the past and anticipate the future. Gaining awareness of all time simultaneously is the path to enlightenment. Just as everything within me forms a whole, all individual parts come together to create the entirety of everything.

Other works you may like to read are:


Pulvers, R. (2010, November 24). Death comes in many written forms. The Japan Times.

Roetzheim, W. (112014). Paperback (pp. 337-338). Level 4 Press, Inc.

Journal, A. P. (n.d.). Homage to the Life and Poetry of Miyazawa Kenji. The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.

Miyazawa Kenji. (n.d.). University of California Press.


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