Song of the Kamogawa (鴨川の歌)


Wide River chitters and trees chirp.
Awake from thirteen year sleep long,
Semi begin their one week summer song.
                                                                                            Ringing. Crying.

River’s stones bare children’s feet.
Dancing, hot below sun’s summer face,
Cool ‘gainst River’s fleeting embrace.
                                                                                               Laughing. Singing.
North hills look and bake.
Bright greens fade to whites and blue,
Blue caps swim on milky haze and summer dew.
                                                                                                 Swimming. Sighing.


I wrote this poem from my experience at Kamogawa, cycling along the river in summer sun, around the area of the Shimogamo shrine. It is a beautiful and peaceful place, so when my wife asked me to write a poem about my experience of Japan this place was an easy choice. I was impressed by the sounds, the space, and the distant blueish hills, which I cycled as close to as I could, following the river to the northern-most edge of the city.

For the interest of readers, the Japanese in the poem mean cry (泣), song (歌) and sigh (ため息). Semi, verse 1, is the Japanese name for cicada.

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