Monday, February 09, 2015


Gomen, Gomen

Kazuo Koizumi, Father and I: Memories of Lafcadio Hearn (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1935), pp. 202-203 (brackets in original):
One day, from the next lot we heard many men's voices and sounds of saws and chopping. When we looked out, we saw the fine trees swaying and branch after branch was cut off. Away up high was a man with a rope tied around his waist, working like a monkey. Seeing this going on, father was surprised. When the Kobudera trees were being cut down, father felt so bad that it hurt him as if they were cutting off his own hands and feet, and now to have to witness another miserable sight seemed as if opening up the wound again. 'Isn't there some means of saving the old trees on the lot next door?' We went at once to an old man who had lived for a long time in the neighbourhood and asked him to negotiate; but it was too late, all the old trees had been sold, so he couldn't break the contract now. There were so many that they could not be transplanted then. 'Can't you buy the land and take over the whole thing?' it was proposed. This place had five or six houses for rent, besides the trees, and if the part where the trees grew were bought it would leave only a long strip of land, so one would have to buy the houses also. Father had not the means to take them over. The trees towered up high in the sky; some were as old as two or three hundred years and the youngest ones were at least fifty years or more. 'I would like to save you, but I can't! Gomen, gomen [pardon, pardon]. I am a miserable man — too poor — I can't save you — gomen, gomen.' He could not stand hearing the chopping and sawing going on, so he stayed away from home longer than usual on his walks.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.


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