Paul Archer - photo Paul Archer - poet, translator




No, no!
Don't touch this silent water,
Let alone toss in a stone,
Even the tremor of a waterdrop
Wastes a thousand ripples.
Revere the silence of water,
Value its stillness.
You musn't speak another word,
Just to open your mouth would be shattering
And letting a sound pass your lips
Would be like a lightning strike,
You are a woman,
Though they say you behave like a man, you are still a woman,
You are the sweat-soaked full moon in a blue-black sky,
You are the moon that leads the world into dreams
Making the transient eternal.

That's fine, yes,
You musn't return those dreams to reality
Or the eternal back to the transient,
And, more than anything else,
You musn't toss anything harmful
Into this crystal clear water.
My stillness is a jewel bought with blood,
You can't imagine how much blood I sacrificed for it.

This stillness is my life,
This stillness is my god,
And it's an irrascible god at that,
It can be provoked into a vicious frenzy
By even the slight hunger of a summer's night,
Dare you even touch ever so lightly?

You must value stillness,
Or else
Be sure you're ready
For the ripples from that stone
Could overwhelm you, drag you into their whirlpool,
Slam into you a hundred thousand times,
You are a woman
You'd have to draw on all your strength to withstand this,
Could you?
You musn't say another word to me,

Doesn't even that smoky, oil-stained railway station
Shimmering in the moonlight
Seem like a treasure-house full of shining jewels?
The distant green and red signal lamps
Now in silence, now sending off trains,
Perform their important role
In harmony with the mood of this moonlit night.
I'm now at one
With this atmosphere,
I've succumbed to its mysterious power
And reached a precious equilibrium,
My soul thinks on the eternal,
My naked eye sees infinite worth in all things,
Be quiet, shush,
Now I'm communing with something greater than me
And have forgotten how to speak.

Don't touch this silent water,
Let alone toss in a stone.

The Chieko
by Kotaro

© Paul Archer - All Rights Reserved