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This poem is taken from PN Review 91, Volume 19 Number 5, May - June 1993.

for Yoshiko Asano Zipangu Charles Tomlinson

1. THE PINES AT HAKONE

The pine trees will not converse with foreigners. Their aim
is to hide everything that lies beneath their crisp, dense
      foliage
or at their feet - those ferns, for instance, that reproduce
the pine pattern on every leaf and lie low
the air scarcely stirring them. They have learned
to keep secrets by studying the tall trunks that surround
      t h e m
and that might still be living in the Edo period.
Touched by the breeze, they rock on their pliant roots
and shift slightly their green vestments, beginning to
      oscillate,
to lean from side to side, even to bow -
though not deeply as is customary with this people -
as if good manners were all they had on their minds
and they had spent a long time considering the question
without coming to any conclusion. The tiny agitations of
...


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