Once and forever. The tales of Kenji Miyazawa. Translated by John Bester.
This is a selection of tales by Kenji Miyazawa, who lived and wrote in Northern Japan during the early 1900's— novels, poems and children's literature. He taught agriculture. He played the cello. And he was a social activist. He did a lot in less than 40 years of life.
And I'm completely charmed by these stories.
Sometimes not much happens, but that's okay. Sometimes a person or an animal is mean or dies. But in Miyazawa's world, those moments are somehow woven into the magic.
I should explain one thing. Miyazawa loved to have his characters speak in regional dialects. Like our Twain or Steinbeck, maybe. John Bester, who made the beautiful translation I'm reading from, did his best to translate Miyazawa's Japanese dialects into something that might have a similar feel to English readers and ears. So if a Japanese deer sounds a little Irish, that's the reason.
The first deer dance
From a gap in the ragged gleaming clouds to the west, the red rays of the setting sun slanted down on the mossy plain, and the swaying fronds of pampas grass shown like white fire. I was tired and lay down to sleep. Gradually the rustling of the breeze began to sound to my ears like human speech. And before long it was telling me the true meaning of the deer dance that the country folk still perform on the hills and on the plain ofKitakami.