World War II Japan Personal Response

“Emperor” by Ryuichi Tamura 

There are eyes in the stone, the eyes

closed in grief and fatigue.

The man in black passes my door –

You, the Emperor of Winter,

my lonely Emperor, walking to your own

grave in Europe

your white forehead shadowed by


your back to the sun.

Your self-punishment is so painful,

Flowers! You stretch out your hands to


But universal winter has set in

after the era of reason and progress.

European beauties are nothing but


Who will kiss your hands

whose fated palms are dark and dry and


Flowers! Those scars are flowers.


My Emulation: The Emperor of Glass 

Your silhouette lingers in our gaze,

the noble Emperor who seemed so far out of our grasp

is now only a fingertip away from being grazed upon.

You turn away with a furrowed brow from the radiant sun,

your grief and fatigue weigh

on the shoulders of your hunched back,

the tense rippling of flesh

scorching underneath the heat of criticism-

a loss of dignity.

As you feebly raise your head up high,

eyes to the heavens,

you wonder why

the Gods had chosen you;

the soft-spoken and still Emperor.

Lonely emperor

locked within the confines

of the richness of your history,

the pressure of the peasants beneath you


Do not hide in cowardice,

for if you wish to redeem

the battered earth of dried blood

to the once beautiful

yellow chrysanthemum fields

of the imperial seal.

Reveal yourself,

modest Emperor,

as a compelling ruler,

and save us-

your people,

from our own self-destruction.

Yellow chrysanthemums (left) as represented by the Imperial Seal of Japan (right).

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WWII Japan Culture Seminar Presentation

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