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Ayukawa Nobuo / 鮎川信夫 – Ⅲ

In a Dilapidated House 





The wind blew hard that day

just after keichitsu 1) 

the Eastern and Southern windows

made sounds one after the other

the door opened and closed…

this ramshackle house

made a symphony.

It’s too cold to call it spring,

but the temperature was not so low

that by turning on a nearby heater

it couldn’t soon become warm.

Beyond the window

was the bright blue sky spreading like an ocean,

with cirrus clouds of thin torn silk.

Even a life that is beautiful

when spoken or put to words,

is hard to live in reality.

In the end, the problem

could be psychological

but in the meantime,

I thought is was not that serious,

And could be endured.

The house has definitely aged.

Because the wind

blows fresh vitality

into its senescent, flimsy frame.

No one would think it strange

if it fell down tomorrow—

this house is trembling.

The owner, who reads books of all ages

and knows the sorrows of the flesh completely

is leaning on a chair,

his back bent as if a prisoner in Solevetsky 2)

forced to wear a bag.

In an overgrown garden

the man swinging a club in strong wind

is another him…

How far it is.

Everything is in the distance.

Even the rumbling of the ocean can be heard.

In such a clear air,

there seems to be no evil

but in the voice of the wind

in the rustling trees

even in between the blink of an eye

the valley of the dead—

victims of wars and revolutions—

appears and disappears.

That is why, even now,

the hands of the prisoner in Solevetsky

tremble slightly.


Because of the hardships of his boyhood,

he believed in the miracle of hands

he used to think one line for one word

would change people’s minds…

one modest poem for one line

would change the direction of the light.

So he kept a single room

and endured a long imprisonment

for that single room

until the house began to lean.

Piling books, clothes and things

everywhere like dust.


What objects have you buried reverentially?

The house will never fall

as long as a human being lives in it,

man’s slick sweat will give

endurance to the beams, ceiling and floor.

As long as the smell of human breath

that stains the bed of agony with blood

is there,

the house will not collapse.

That’s what he kept on believing.

But from the corner of his eyes

with his head hung low,

a glint of am

endurable tear falling.


For a while, the wind blew hard

against the senescent faces, walls, mind

covered with rusted metal ivy

pressing against them,

frightening or consoling.

Oh, the dilapidated house on the hill,

the prisoner in Solevetsky,

beloved people,


Just as the time we live together

comes to an end some day,

so a very sad fate will come to pass

for the person born into this world

with a cry as a son.

In any case, since a tomorrow that is better than yesterday

will not come, all the books

are just an incurable illness,

eating away at life,

leading your house to collapse.

The least you can do is

make the expiration clean,

quietly wave good-bye to the wind.

Let’s welcome a much better extinction.





  1. 1) Japanese Candlemas, or Groundhog Day, signifying the end of winter and the beginning of spring.
  2. 2) An island in the White Sea, where the first “re-education” camp was established in 1923.