At Night by Yone Noguchi |

At night the Universe grows lean, sober- faced, of intoxication,

  • Saturday, December 14, 2013 6:04pm
  • Life

At night the Universe grows lean, sober-

faced, of intoxication,

The shadow of the half-sphere curtains

down closely against my world, like a

doorless cage, and the stillness chained by

wrinkled darkness strains throughout the Uni-

verse to be free.

Listen, frogs in the pond, (the world is a pond itself)

cry out for the light, for the truth!

The curtains rattle ghostlily along, bloodily biting

my soul, the winds knocking on my cabin door

with their shadowy hands.

About This Poem

Yone Noguchi’s first collection, Seen & Unseen, Or, Monologues of a Homeless Snail (1897, 1920), which includes “At Night,” was published in San Francisco by the editors of The Lark. Noguchi’s spare and direct form, along with his advocacy of free verse, inspired Ezra Pound and the Imagist movement.

Yone Noguchi, the first Japanese-born writer to publish poetry in English, was born in 1875 in Tsushima. While studying at Keio Gijuku, Noguchi decided to travel to the United States. After arriving in San Francisco in 1893, Noguchi worked as a journalist and as a domestic servant before deciding to pursue poetry. A few years later, Noguchi published his first poems in a small San Francisco magazine called The Lark. He then went on to publish many articles and several books of poetry and prose. He returned to Japan in 1905, but continued to publish extensively in English, establishing himself as a cross-cultural and transnational writer. Noguchi died in Toyooka-mura on July 13, 1947.

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