Play that organ, woman

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: the West!

I always thought it was bigger than that.

This illustration appeared in the 1923 edition of HAGIWARA Sakutarō's Aoneko 青猫, right before a poem called "The Black Organ" (黒い風琴). I have included a quick translation of the first stanza below. If possible, hire a skilled Jim Morrison impersonator to read it to you.

The Black Organ

Play that organ/ Woman
Put on that black dress
And seat yourself before that organ
Your fingers are to crawl across it
Lightly/ gently/ solemnly/ like the sound of falling snow......
Play that organ/ Woman ...

The poem continues in a similar vein for two more stanzas, but the most notable thing about it, in my opinion, is Hagiwara spelling "requiem" れくれえむ (rekureemu). We know he actually meant "requiem" because in other places he used れくれえむ as furigana for kanji like 鎮魂楽 ("music for pacifying souls").

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g dawg:

That is a sweet, sweet poem. Would it be impertinent for me to ask for the rest, or the original?



What a queer word for organ. Then again 木琴 is xylophone...why not 象牙琴 for the piano?


G dawg: It's on Aozora somewhere -- just search for 黒い風琴 萩原朔太郎 and it should turn up.

Peter: Because piano was already 洋琴...


Yeah, 洋琴, but that's pretty lame as well.

The whole idea that bowed, squeezed, or struck instruments can all "derive" their Japanese name from the koto is a bit parochial, if you ask me.

myriam belfer:

c'est a magnifique poème...


Eh, it depends on if you view 琴 as "koto" or "instrument presenting the player with a set range of prepared sounds." cf "Thumb piano." Plus, back then English used terms like "Japanese banjo" and "Japanese zither" for shamisen and koto. It all seems to have worked out all right in the end. Except for 木琴 I suppose.

Or, wait, is this some sort of meta-continuation of the Mori/Otaking argument from last week?!


Naw, you won't get that from me. I view "koto" as plucked (the 'harps' in Old Testament Psalms are usually translated as "12-string koto"), and so extending it to the zither is one thing, but struck instruments like the piano and xylophone is just strange.

Then again, "piano" itself is a bizarre abbreviation of the original Italian name, so my point of reference isn't the best of ones to begin with.

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