Misao Fujimura’s Farewell Poem

Misao Fujimura (July 1886 – May 22, 1903) was a Japanese philosophy student and poet remembered primarily for this farewell poem.  He was born in Hokkaido, the grandson of a samurai. He attended middle school in Sapporo and a prep school in Tokyo to prepare for the Imperial University there.

Fujimura fell in love with Tamiko, who rejected him in favor of Tatsukichi Minobe, whom she later married. Distraught, he went to Kegon Falls in Nikko. He wrote this farewell poem on the trunk of a tree before committing suicide by jumping.  He was not yet 17 years old.  His farewell poem is tragic, touching and beautiful.  I find the last six lines particularly haunting.

 

Delicate line between heaven and earth…
The calm of the ages,
all the world’s worth.
Such minuscule measure,
while we think it so grand…

Fujimura's suicide note.

Just five specks of smallness,
This soft quiet land.
So frail and so fleeting,
in the end you will see
Simple dreams were Horatio’s philosophy.

For all the truth,
all creation,
all secrets of yore
Can be told in an instant,
by then they’re no more.

Ah, The Unexplainable
All worries unsettled,
heartache unresolved…
All questions unanswered,
with death, shall be solved.

We already teeter,
this sheer cliff so high.
When we fall to corruption,
insecurities die.

To end is to start;
to surrender is to know.

Despair and depression,
together they grow.
Hope shall meet hopeless
when there’s nowhere to go.

Category: Misao Fujimura, Other Poets, Romance | 9 comments

  • Enaie Azambuja says:

    Hello, I would like to know who translated Fukimura’s poem into English. I don’t see the translator’s name in the post. Thanks

    [Reply]

    poeticfool Reply:

    Unfortunately, I did some research online and couldn’t find an attribution for who translated it into English. Sorry.

    [Reply]

  • John says:

    The English version seems to rhyme too well. You’d think a lot would get lost in translation. I wonder how much it’s been adapted.

    [Reply]

    poeticfool Reply:

    Hi John, I hadn’t really noticed but your comment has encouraged me to go back and read it again. Thanks for dropping by my blog and taking the time to leave a comment.

    [Reply]

    Van Reply:

    @John, I understand your point. Japanese sentence structure is a little different than our own, and there are many different words that can mean the same thing. Looking over the translation, the two poems are mostly identical, so I wouldn’t worry 🙂

    Also, Japanese translates to English incredibly well as far as preservation of meaning goes. It’s possible the reason Japanese cinema/anime is so popular in America. Even most puns translate well!

    Source: Fluent in Japanese

    [Reply]

  • Milussi says:

    That English version is very freely translated. Translated more word by word is this:
    How immense the universe is!
    How eternal history is!
    I wanted to measure the immensity with this puny five-foot body.
    What authority has Horatio’s philosophy?
    The true nature of the whole creation.
    Is in one word – “unfathomable.”
    With this regret, I am determined to die.
    Standing on a rock on the top of a waterfall.
    I have no anxiety.
    I recognize for the first time.
    Great pessimism is nothing but great optimism.

    [Reply]

    poeticfool Reply:

    Thanks so much for your comment. It’s always interesting to hear varying translations of the same piece. Thanks for taking the time!

    [Reply]

  • Héctor says:

    True love story, hope to see a movie about his life and death someday …

    [Reply]

    poeticfool Reply:

    I’ve not thought of that before but, if done well, it could make for a good drama. Thanks for the visit and the comment!

    [Reply]


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