adapted by Eiko from "Moth" written by Mitsuharu Kaneko in 1948
No moon was seen
But moonlight flooded everywhere,
The sky like a layer of salt,
The earth too dim and quiet
That even dewdrops could be heard dropping
Onto the bed of grass form the twigs above.
Just like a fan with broken vanes,
There appeared, flapping,
A nocturnal moth swimming through the foggy sea of moonlight
In the broad sleeves of his crested gown,
Heavy with a layer of dew.
He moved his wings as if in a dream,
Showing by his course that changed continuously
His determination not to drown.
To live is to be fragile,
So is it a fault to nurture a dream?
Oh moth! What is life to you?
You’ve been exhausted ever since you lost your cozy pupa,
You’ve carried the weight of time upon your back
And gasped for breath
While taking a rest
After such a short journey,
Then started on another voyage
Into an unknown future.
While most of human kind are in the sleep of slaves
The earth runs on at full tilt, like a frightened thief,
With every burden on its shoulders
Looking for the chance to cast them off.
Only the few who cannot sleep so easily
Know and await the coming punishment—
The magnificent shipwreck on the promised land.
The moth flies on with silent eloquence,
Flapping his fragile wings in clamorous
On each wing there appears some scales
Like the layers of powder on a lady’s mirror.
Each scale means death.
The moth is overburdened.
As I wander along the beach around the lake,
I sense under every step I make
The softness of fallen corpses,
O dead moths,
And so I know that I am nothing more
Than a tiny shadow in the moonlight night.