From “A Japan Journal”
Dawn in Japan. The old man is still questing,
Turning his ears and eyes, now half-machine,
Toward the world that gave him life—unresting,
Seeking for what they have not heard or seen.
Beyond the bastions of Kikyomon Gate
In the imperial garden of the sun,
He sat down yesterday to contemplate
And fell asleep before he had begun.
The Bunraku Masters
These inflamed puppets cannot know the forms,
The mighty forms in black, that drive their passions;
Their loves and griefs, the motion of their arms,
Are but effects: occasions and conditions.
But puppets all command their puppeteers.
The master artists who put on this show,
Hooded, anonymous, are but the gears
Of strange machines that they themselves can’t know.
The art demands its servants, whose submission
In turn relieves the torture of their drives;
And freedom, in this loving competition,
Arises in these fictions, these fierce lives.
The old man knows he is a puppet, but
Now he has made friends with his subjection.
He is in bonds, but in his bonds he’s not
The prisoner, but master of his fiction.