Let Me Show You Some Chords

Miryam Sas

Leonard Cohen and Sagawa Chika

Sagawa Chika, 1911-1936, is an almost forgotten Japanese modernist poet.





August assembly                                

                                                           It comes down, it rains

I don’t think I have to refer to them

                                                           The likeness of like petals

Another dimension                            

                                                           Compares all the kinds of ways

Of Gratitude                                        

                                                            Similarity can rain down

Helium to my face                              

                                                            Going down can be like going down

The living wood                                  

                                                            Today and other times

You know that wood never dies        

                                                            Feeling sad and waterfalls

The living cedar                                  

                                                            Ending times after beautiful times

You are an old man                            

                                                            In the afternoon the sun starts its descent

And you have not                                

                                                           Toward dusk

Said thank you




There was a voice      

                                                           Hit by the heaviness of weight itself

To find a voice

                                                           More than just petals it pulls down

To locate a voice                                

                                                           To the bottom

Never to lament casually                    

                                                           Where the tree casts its shadow


Strict confines

                                                           The bugs descend into the darkness

My broken his broken

                                                           Hit by the weight

Let me hear you play  

                                                           In to the shade of shade

He said I’ll come back tomorrow

                                                           We know the heavy feeling of afternoon

And I did not know

                                                           And the things that gather behind the faint wind

And I did not know

                                                           The sun’s rays kill a sound

The dimensions                                  

                                                           Interrupted in the middle of the thought of climbing

Of the gratitude                                  

                                                           Climbing the bluff that blocks them  



(Translation based on Sagawa’s “Afternoon”)                                  

Miryam Sas

Miryam Sas is Professor of Comparative Literature/Film & Media at UC Berkeley. Her book "Fault Lines: Cultural Memory and Japanese Surrealism" (Stanford, 1999) focused on Japanese surrealists of the 1930s including women poets who worked alongside Sagawa. Her next book "Feeling Media" is forthcoming from Duke University Press.

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