Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Dancing Mountain

In the heart of Kanagawa stands a mountain like no other.
Raise your eyes! For it soars beyond the grandest peaks of high Tanzawa
To stand amidst the clouds and summer light, tall as the spires of Tōnodake
Vigorous and dark its might – not even dominant Ōyama dares contest.
Its rumbling slopes are rugged as the burnt bronze earths of Hirugatake
Yet on high its woods unfurl and burst to life, lush and sweet like the blossoms of Kōbōyama,
Pierced by shafts and sunbeams radiant as the rhododendrons of Hinokiboramaru.
Oh mighty tower, how your rocky cliffs and rapids thunder in the storm
As though you live – you live! – and dance beneath a golden sky
And when you dance, all the mountains hold their breath transfixed,
Behold your streams and sparkling marshes churn, erupt, disgorge,
Their blistering currents blue and clear as the summer seas beyond Sagami Bay.

Dancing mountain, wild and free, the guidebooks do not list you
No map can chart your whirling ridges, gliding outcrops, twisting paths
And yet, I hear, if I take the train to Hadano Station
I need not make the climb to Yabitsu Pass
Just follow the eyes of the mountains. And there, they whisper, there are two ways up
Each no easier than the other – but oh, the panoramic landscapes, oh the firm and fragrant earth,
Igneous beauty, forged and sculpted in the molten depths, for there, too, you danced, made the furnaces of old your stage and in their flames grew strong;
And then the trail turns rough, on crushing high plateaus of ancient rock that does not break;
There is no shelter here, the winds swing fierce, as though you swerve and bank to sweep your climbers off
Until at last, they reach and grasp the boughs of the deep dark forest in the clouds
Wherein they cling for life, they sweat and heave, dare not look down, for it’s a long way down
But cast their gazes up those sleek and sylvan contours: now the summit comes in sight.
For those who climb the dancing mountain, it is said far more awaits
Than the view as far as the summer seas beyond Sagami Bay.

Although, I wouldn’t know.
For though I weep upon the thought, I cannot climb the dancing mountain.
How I long to climb it, know I must if ever to speak or write of the magic of Tanzawa
And yet, the way is closed. On my approach, the trailheads seal and shift;
No matter where I search, there is no path. It turns away. I cannot dance the mountain’s dance.
I fear I may have wronged it. Or perhaps, the realm it stands in is its own:
Dimensions held apart by walls invisible, the other side to always see but never cross.
A distant realm, a warm and sunlit place too bright for me – my very presence there would blight its light and sully its blissful skies.
Shadow that I am, I can only turn away, cry despair from the evening shore; but then I turn again
For who if not all the mountains can take their eyes from the dancing mountain?
Perhaps, if I set sail and find a different world
(A different world – anywhere but here!)
Then there, somehow, it will be too, its ridges reaching in
That I may yet sit high upon its cliffs, and feel from every side the raw and coursing might of the dancing mountain.
So must I dream, and only dream, as shedding tears that never end
I fly away across the summer seas beyond Sagami Bay.

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