At dayFor all the startling beauty and originality of his work, Hagiwara remains a poet of the dark; a native of that extraordinary world where Dylan Thomas' question ("Isn't life a terrible thing, thank God") really needs no answer. Shiveringly sensitive to loveliness in all its million modes, he finds it not only in its familiar haunts but even in such unexpected subjects as a rotten clam or the dead body of an alcoholic. A man intensely aware that the sun, that symbol of Japan, rises as much to cast shadows as to give light, his early self-portrait establishes the tone of all his later work:
Sad in the ailing earth, Tongue-tender with despair, Green moves through grief's grimace; And, sick and lonely, there In the gloom of the under world ,At the bottom of the world, a face.
The Most Primitive Feeling
In the depths of this jungle one can see Fronds of the great Gum-trees lounging leadenly: Like ears of elephants Their leaves luxuriate. In this damp and dim-lit place, Towing their shadows like a trawl, All kinds of fern embrace Wetly. All kinds of plants Sprawl out upon each other. All Kinds of reptiles, kinds of snake, Frog, lizard, salamander, newt Maul in the clammy gloom to make Slithering absolute. From the sad longing of mid-day For what did Adam yearn, To what dank dawn look back? The feeling of primitiveness Is like a cloud, an endless Endlessly darling love. It flows away Past reasonings of return, Endless and endlessly. On the far-off other bank Of the river of memory, There is no glade nor grove Nor landing place nor plank To pin this feeling down.