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HomePoems > Mount Fuji > 12. Sunset View across Ryogoku Bridge                           


12.  Sunset View across Ryogoku Bridge from the Back of Sumida River in Oumayagashi

Oh my gosh, the Sumida River's as big

As Tokyo Bay--and heavy. The small boats strain

Anchor chains against the current ...

And this enormous bridge, too, all wood

And sweat, arching over the deep waters,

An industrial triumph, a carpenter's high tech,

Advertising nationhood.

Not so magnificent for these passengers,

Tossed up and down near shore, rough stiff waves

Knocking boat and baggage back and forth,

As the oarsman just gets free of the dock--

How many of their great grandchildren

Are stuck in Tokyo traffic today,

Or studiously sleeping as the subway nears Shinjuku station?

Hokusai's so delicate with horizons,

The uneven surfaces indicate house, tree,

Ridge, and hubbub, without disrupting

The line of shore stuff, the far side,

This intriguing other, just out of reach.

Did anyone notice this dark line storm

Black as a monsoon, bearing down

On the pale beige sky, menacing

Anyone caught on the water? These sheer broad bands

Darkly frame and extend the river, as if

The weather itself carried Japan along,

Without a sign of sun, just atmosphere,

Scratched by this fishing pole, and poked

By the modest triangle of Mount Fuji.

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