Definitions: A PERSONAL VIEW OF GRAY (poem) - Shuntaro Tanikawa - Japan - Poetry International
previous | next



However white a white may be, it never is a true white. In a white without a single bit of cloudiness, invisibly miniscule black is lurking, and that is always its constitution itself. A white does not regard a black with hostility, but rather it is understood to contain a black, because a white by its nature fosters black. At the very moment of coming into existence, a white is already beginning to move toward a black.
But in its long process toward a black, however many gradations of gray it passes through, a white does not cease to be white until the very moment it is totally black. Even when it is infiltrated by what are not thought to be attributes of white such as, for example, shadows, dullness, or absorption of light, a white is gleaming behind a mask of gray. A white dies in a flash. In that instant a white disperses, leaving no traces, and a total black rises up. But —
However black a black may be, it never is a true black. In a black without a single speck of gleam, an invisibly miniscule white is lurking like a genome, and that is black’s constitution itself. At the very moment of coming into existence, a black is already beginning to move toward a white . . .