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moon in the water Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 04-26-2010 11:46 PM
the water does not try
to reflect the moon
and the moon has no desire
to be reflected
but when the clouds clear
there is the moon in the water
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 155
Comments: 1,111
Views: 1,663,409


In General The Daimyo - morning of battle Entry Tools Rating: 5 Stars!
  #70 New 06-26-2011 10:23 AM
The Daimyo - morning of battle
Samurai Helmet by David A LaSpina used under creative commons licence

Le Daïmio - matin de bataille
José-Maria de Heredia

Sous le noir fouet de guerre à quadruple pompon,
L'étalon belliqueux en hennissant se cabre
Et fait bruire, avec des cliquetis de sabre,
La cuirasse de bronze aux lames du jupon.

Le Chef vêtu d'airain, de laque et de crépon,
Ôtant le masque à poils de son visage glabre,
Regarde le volcan sur un ciel de cinabre
Dresser la neige où rit l'aurore du Nippon.

Mais il a vu, vers l'Est éclaboussé d'or, l'astre,
Glorieux d'éclairer ce matin de désastre,
Poindre, orbe éblouissant, au-dessus de la mer ;

Et, pour couvrir ses yeux dont pas un cil ne bouge,
Il ouvre d'un seul coup son éventail de fer
Où dans le satin blanc se lève un Soleil rouge.

The Daimyo - morning of battle
José-Maria de Heredia
Translation by Lafcadio Hearn

Under the black war whip with its quadruple pompon the fierce stallion, whinnying, curvets, and makes the rider's bronze cuirass ring against the plates of his shirt of mail, with a sound like the clashing of sword blades.

The Chief, clad in bronze and lacquer and silken crape, removing the bearded masque from his beardless face, turns his gaze to the great volcano, lifting its snows into the cinnabar sky where the dawn of Nippon begins to smile.

Nay! he has already seen the gold-spattered day star, gloriously illuminating the morning of disaster, rise, a blinding disk, above the seas. And to shade his eyes, on both of which not even a single eyelash stirs, he opens with one quick movement his iron fan, wherein upon a field of white satin there rises a crimson sun.

The Daimyo - morning of battle
José-Maria de Heredia
a rough modern translation by Niall Matthews

The Daimyo uses his black war whip,
braided with four silk balls,
and his horse rears up fiercely, neighing.
His bronze breastplate clanks
against the metal pieces of his armour
like swords clashing.

He is dressed in bronze and lacquer and black silk crape.
He takes off his war mask - with its moustache -
and reveals his own smooth hairless face.
He glances towards Mount Fuji.
The snow at the top of the mountain shows
against the amber light of a Japanese dawn.

The sun bursts with gold,
shining with glory
on this morning of death.
To shield his eyes behind the unmoving eyelashes
he flicks open his iron war fan showing
on the white silk
a red rising sun.

Today I'm only indirectly writing about budo. This is about Japanese history and culture as seen by French - or rather Cuban - eyes. In train I wrote about Shimane in Western Japan. The writer Lafcadio Hearn lived in Matsue in Shimane for several years. Lafcadio Hearn was half Irish and half Greek. He emigrated to the USA from Ireland when he was young. He became a writer and wrote about New Orleans. He went to Japan and lived the rest of his life there. He became naturalized as a Japanese citizen and changed his name to Yakumo Koizumi. He wrote several books about Japan - including Japanese ghost stories - and he is still very famous in Japan. Perhaps I'll write about him in more depth another time. He admired this evocative poem. One day I'll also write about the iron war fan - a tessen - that the daimyo flicks open.


essay: Some Foreign Poems On Japanese Subjects by Lafcadio Hearn

the poem in French - source

wikipedia articles on Lafcadio Hearn and José-Maria de Heredia

several of Lafcadio Hearn's books are available as free e-books on project gutenberg

e-book: José-Maria de Heredia, Les trophées (en français)

my columns on aikiweb:


Unbalance - Feet of Clay

Half a Tatami

Zen in the Art of Aikido

© niall matthews 2011
Views: 5333 | Comments: 7

RSS Feed 7 Responses to "The Daimyo - morning of battle"
#7 06-29-2011 03:59 PM
guest1234567 Says:
My first thought when I read the title was of the Zen story about Nobunaga, and this evening walking along the shore and thinking about the thread Overcoming aggressive attack without superior strength I remembered the story again, searching in Wikipedia, it doesn't tell anything about the coin but Nobunaga is somehow related to Takeda Shingen too. So it is about budo and we are there again
#6 06-28-2011 06:13 AM
niall Says:
Yes this is an especially vivid sonnet. It's like a painting as you said or even more like a movie. It's a very cinematic description.
#5 06-27-2011 03:45 PM
guest1234567 Says:
Hi Niall, pls thank the japanese people for asking you for that simpler version, it is very nice! José María de Heredia Girard(there is another one with the same name in Wikipedia and a Cuban poet too), born in Cuba but of a french mother went with 9 years to France, he studied spanish when he went back to Cuba with 17 , so his mother language was french.
#4 06-27-2011 11:04 AM
niall Says:
I had a request from some Japanese people for a simpler version of the poem. The original is rather flowery and so is Lafcadio Hearn's accurate translation. So I've done a rough modern version.
#3 06-27-2011 11:02 AM
niall Says:
Thanks Carina. That first haiku link is very interesting.
#2 06-26-2011 01:28 PM
guest1234567 Says:
(cont) And I liked very much the story of the Dream of Akinosuke . I'll read more to translate them
#1 06-26-2011 01:27 PM
guest1234567 Says:
Thanks Niall for this great poem,it is like a painting, you can see the powerful colours and the Daimyo by reading it. And thanks for inviting to read more through the links. I found that Lafcadio Hearn translated a few nice Haikus too like"when the cicadas cease what coolness! the voice of the pines (from Baijaku) and it is good to read and imagine this coolness under the pines in the warm days of our early summer.

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