Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Nihon Distractions and Apollinaire

Surfing the great interweb, I came across old Nihon Distractions today, and I read a great post about Ishikawa Takuboku and a book of poetry he wrote, On Knowing Oneself Too Well. While reading the review, and in particular the sections from Ishikawa's poem about smoking, I was put in mind of a poem by Apollinaire, Hôtel. I tried searching for Oliver Bernard's translation, which is the one I have in my bookshelf, but I could only find that wretched one in the above link. The French being mercifully simple, I decided to give it a go putting it into English myself.

My room resembles a cage,
The sun puts his arm through the window
But I who want to smoke and dream
I light my cigarette with the sunlight.
I do not want to work -- I want to smoke.

I later found a great version of the poem here.


  1. Glad you liked my post/blog,poetry can be addictive,can't it?,i'll have to check out some Apollinaire now..

  2. Indeed it can. It's perfect for train rides or sitting on the loo. Not to mention, of course, those times when it's just you and a cigarette.

  3. I read some Apollinaire in high school (en francais, aussi), though I don't remember this poem. I was a big fan of Baudelaire and Rimbaud though. My french is crap now though.

    In general I'm not big into poetry, so my background in Japanese poetry especially is lacking, save from some of the big stuff like Basho and a handful of ancient waka from the Man'yoshu.

    To make a long story short, I liked this poem.