Saturday, October 20, 2018
Songs from the Slums, by Kagawa
FOREWORD -Page 7-
TOYOHIKO KAGAWA wrote these poems
when he was a consumptive boy living in the
slums of Japan. Surrounded by hideous
things—plague, stench, disease—he sees chil-
dren kicked naked into the streets; a little
girl he loves sold. When put into prison as
an agitator, the stars shining through iron
bars are his only friends. A tiny one rescued
from professional baby—killers and dying in
his arms, flutters back to life when she feels
his tears upon her face.
Visions come of the things God will do
through him. At times despair overwhelms.
Tears flow in floods when he fears that
human love is shutting him away from God.
But there is ecstasy at last when he stands
in the sunshine before a little hut, hand in
hand with his bride, and
"Our glad souls fly
To the scarlet sky,
Wing to wing;
Ah, the only voice that can call us home
Is the cry of the poor we have left in the
FOREWORD . . . . . . . . . . .7
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . .11
SHINKAWA . . . . . . . . . .15
SPRING NIGHT . . . . . . . . . .19
ONLY A FLOWER . . . . . . . . . 21
THE LAND OF HAN . . . . . . . . 22
SLUM EVENING . . . . . . . . . .25
MY DISCIPLES . . . . . . . . . .27
IF ONLY THERE ARE STARS . . . . .29
SNOWY MORNING . . . . . . . . . .31
WHEN TEARS ARE MINGLED . . . . .32
MONKEY-BOY . . . . . . . . . .36
DREAMS . . . . . . . . . .38
OUTSIDE MY WINDOW . . . . .40
REVENGE . . . . . . . . . .43
AUTUMN SUNSHINE . . . . . . . . . .45
THE EARTH GROWN LIKE THE MOON . . . . .46
MOKUREN . . . . .. . . . . .49
THE MOON LOOKS DOWN . . . . .50
BESIDE MY BRAZ'ER . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55
JOBLESS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58
MUD . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . 61
ONE GARMENT LEFT . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63
LITTLE SISTER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
DISCOVERY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
PRAYER . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68
PENNILESS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70
“OE SUCH” . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71
DAY’S END . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72
A WRAITH'S EXISTENCE . . . . . . . . . . . . . .74
SCULPTOR OF THE SOUL . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76
MY CROSS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78
THE WAVES ARE SILENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80
LOVE ME NOT . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81
FLOW, TEARS! . . . . . . . . . . . . . .82
LOVE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84
NEW-WEDDED . . . . . . . . . . . . . .85
IN THE HEART OF MY HEART. . . . . . . .87
THE BURDEN . . . . . . . . . . . . . .89
BIOGRAPHICAL . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91
WHEN A SUPREMELY SENSITIVE SOUL comes
face to face with the tragedy of life the world
is often permanently richer. This was true
when the young prince, Gautama, who had
long been carefully secluded from even a
glimpse of the harsh side of human existence,
received his vision of suffering as he beheld
examples Of Old age, sickness, and death.
It was true when the Troubador of Christ in
Assisi turned from the revelings of his gay
comrades to kiss the tainted flesh of a leper
in the way.
The contents of this book reveal that it has
Occurred once more, as a young man in Japan,
who has the delicacy of perception for which
his race is known, and the ability of its
artists to sound the depths of life with a few
deft strokes of the brush or a poem of seven-
teen syllables, comes face to face with the in-
justice and tragedy that are bred in our
present industrial system. In these poems
Kagawa brings us alternately into the joyous
presence of Beauty in the open face of Nature,
and then the ghastly reality of the hell on
earth that man's inhumanity to man has
made. The one relieves the other. With
Kagawa's faith and love we are able con-
stantly to lift our eyes above the sordid slums
of man to the shining stars of God.
These poems do not seem so much to
seize upon the instances of pathos and beauty
which the author has known in his unique
career, and to set them before us, as they
seize us and plunge us into his life, until we
share his wonder at the mystery and loveli-
ness of nature, and partake of his passion of
rebellion at needless human squalor and
cruelty. It is the youthful Kagawa who
writes these poems, haunted as he is by the
vision of what must be achieved when God
works through his hand, and overwhelmed
with the poignant tragedy of modern indus-
trialism which his explorations in the dark,
neglected side of a great city’s life have
In these songs there is revealed that master
power of sensing the sacramental signihcance
of common things. They are not mere lumps
of matter for him but they are vibrant with
the purposes of God. He finds the ecstasy
of the springtime that is denied a dweller in
the slums compared in the blossom of a
single flower growing in the mire; he forgets
the prison chains as he gazes from the window
of his cell on a starlit night.
'Kagawa has written:
"Do you hear Gods pain-pitched cry as
He suffers because of the world`s sore dis-
tress? Yes, I hear it! I hear it! I feel within
me the beating pulse of the universe. I hear
the deep sighings of God."
Like many noble and gentle souls who have
preceded him, he has_ been able to "find the
Christ through tears." His Bible is not a
mere book, but the pulsing life that passes
beneath his window in the slums. t His
Christ, and the Christ of these poems, is one
who goes to his death anew in the person of
the victims of leprosy and tuberculosis who
knows the dull despair of the unemployed,
and is no stranger to the crushing woe of the
women sold into the captivity of lust that
they and their families may eat bread.
The reading of the songs in this book
will bring tears to the eyes of many and
tribute to the artistic balance of its realism
as well as to the pathos and beauty of the
human picture it portrays.
The forces that have made a waste of the
world today are common to the Shinkawa
of Kobe, the East Side of New York, and
London`s Bow. Kagawa is not confronting
us with some far-off tragedy of another
hemisphere, but one in which our own hands
are red with guilt. Perhaps this, in addition
to being the terrific indictment of the picture
which the book gives, is also its chief mes-
sage of hope. Its author, as we know,
dreams of a fellowship of Christians around
the earth, of a Christian Internationale,
whose members, sustaining and supporting
each other, shall launch a common attack
upon the social sin which embodies itself in
a system whose chief by-product is debauched,
debased, and prostituted human lives.
If the challenge of Kobe’s slums is not pe-
culiar to Japan, but is common to the East
and the West, may it not be the means of
bringing forth a new, militant solidarity
among those whose privilege it is to make
up the body of Christ on earth?
“Fervent the vow I swore to fight, nor falter;
Fight with a faith not flickering, nor dim;
God is my Father; in my heart an altar
Glows with the sacrifice I offer Him.”
New York, N. Y.
October, 28, I935
One month in the slums,
And I am sad,
I seem devil-possessed,
Sweet Heaven sends
The Careless earth
But here there are slippery streets, which
never are dry;
They are lined with open sewers, where rats
come out to die;
Tattered paper doors stand wide to winds
The houses are all of a reddish black, like the
hue of stale whale meat;
. . .
Filth on the flimsy ceilings, dirt in the musty
Elbowed out of their crowded rooms, people
All night long they Crouch in the cold,
huddled on broken benches,
Where there`s never a moment's lifting of
the heavy offal stenches.
The painted idiot girl,
Upon whose back
Will never lure men to her den again
She is dead . . . . .
You ordinary folk
Upon the hill,
The slums are vague,
Listen and tremble
As I scream to you,
“SHE DIED OF PLAGUE!
I came to bring
I God to the slum;
But I am dumb,
Whom I would aid;
That I am mad
Race through my brain
Upon my heart
Pictures like this:
Legs rotted off
He need not fret
Does not come,
Because his wife
Is rented out
Sufficient sum. . . . .
A harsh voice
“Here you! Dance!"
I see a thin Child dodge
And I know
It is the boy
Twelve years old,
Driven from bed
Into the streets,
Naked and cold .....
I must be done with thoughts like these!
The raindrops patter slowly from the eaves;
The fire beneath my half-boiled rice is out,
I hear the rising roar of ribald shout
That brings the evening to Shinkawa Slum.
Is there no way
That help can come?
One sweet spring night
Two little actress girls,
Dressed all in red,
Their faces powdered
To a ghastly white,
Sat in the doorway
Of a restaurant
There they played
As they sang,
Like a little brook
Out of a valley,
While their voices rose
Piercing and clear,
And l stated
Then I went away
And hid my face,
Wept for the woe
Those little singmg girls
ONLY A FLOWER
Strange that the spring has come
On meadow and vale and hill,
For here in the sunless slum
My bosom is frozen still.
And I wear the wadded things
Of the dreary winter days,
But out of the heart of this
God gazes into my face!
THE LAND OF HAN
“He cannot save
Reviled a Man
To save them.
Who fain would follow Him.
For I can see
For the slums,
First of all,
Thus in the dearth
Should crowd and throng.
I would lead them away from their bondage,
on, and on, and on,
To the North Land, the Land of Trees, the
lovely Land of Han,
Where mosquitoes never torture,and there's
never pain to bear,
But flower buds are bursting, and spring is
Where fairy fragrance flurters on the clean,
And tiny, straw-thatched home-huts are nes-
tled 'neath the trees;
Where bonny birds sing gaily in the glory of
And friendly folk fare forth to work each
bright and happy morn;
Where the sun shines out in splendor when the
white mist fades,
Where the crystal streamlets tinkle, and there
comes the twinkle, twinkle,
Of the sunlight falling, flashing on the spades.
Where the hazy purple mountains and the
blue, blue rivers sing,
“God is here around you! He is here in
Yes; I would lead my people on, and on, and
To the North Land, the Land of Trees, the
lovely Land of Han!
But oh, in my heart there is pity,
For my people must stay in the city
And this six-foot shack that shelters
Is the only place where I want to be.
I walk the bright, hot streets,
And suddenly the sunshine shows
How soiled my sleeve is.
When the evening comes,
Tired, oh, so tired,
I wander home
To an empty house ;
No one to greet me here.
I drop clown
On the sill
To watch the sunset.
My sick neighbor there,
The one whose head is stiff upon his neck
Boils me some gruel,
And comes bringing it.
I watch men thronging home,
No work to do,
They idle all day long,
Day after day.
Slowly the sun goes down.
Rice gruel and dried plums,
The gruel thin and white,
The plums blood-red.
I throw myself
Down on my bed. . . . .
Three disciples have I,
Three, or four.
I Cat; Tako
Night falls And loud-voiced
I throw myself Jinko,
Down on my bed. _ .
Who will not lose me from
Are numbers One and Two.
The Beggar’s Chief
Is Number Three.
He did not know
How to bow
At the Christmas feast,
He turned swift somersaults.
Is Baby Dekobo.
He cannot lisp
His father’s name,
But all the day,
Twelve years old, and sold. . . . . .
For hours she cried outside my door
Because she had to go.
The little girl who loves me most
IF ONLY THERE ARE STARS
If only there are stars,
I have my friends.
But in the dark
I think upon my fate,
My spirit sickens
And the hard tears fall.
Around my prison
Runs a high stockade;
And from my wrists
But no power
Can lock my eyes.
So can I steal
This lovely light
That wraps me
Out of the Dipper.
Dragging my chains
To the tall window-ledge;
My body cannot crawl
Between those grim iron rods,
Still can I
Laugh as my spirit flies
Into the purple skies!
Northward and northward,
Up and up,
Up to the world of light
I go bounding,
Farewell, O Earth, farewell,
What need I now of your freedom?
Fearless, I fly and fly,
On through the heavenly sky;
Breaking all prison bars, '
My soul sleeps with the stars!
Six in the morning;
It is dark
A little figure
Stands by the sake shop,
Her head bowed down
Against an empty Cart.
She wears the rags
She slept in.
And as she starts
For the factory,
She has come
And stopped .....
It is Yoshiko
Shamed, and hungry, and cold
Crying in the snow.
WHEN TEARS ARE MINGLED
Dawn coming in through the greyness
Lights up the place Where she lies;
I am sodden with sleep, but I waken`
At my starveling`s fretful cries.
She is here on the floor beside me
Wrapped in rags that stink;
I Change them;
I hold her to feed her,
And sob as she struggles to drink.
Three days have I now been a woman,
With a mother's heart in my breast;
Do I doze but an hour `
Then she whimpers,
And I spring to soothe her to rest.
Thin little dirty baby,
Walling with pain all the While,
But I taste the bliss that no life should miss
When I look in her eyes and smile!
Ah, she is ill
Life has abused her so;
Safe from the fiend who had meant to kill,
Fever has laid her low.
Through the night I labored to save her;
We two were all alone.
Sharp in the fearful stillness
The neighbors clock struck one.
Then Walls Went creaking, Creaking,
Blackened timbers groaned.
In this house by murder haunted,
The low-hung ceilings moaned.
Boards in the floor beneath us
Which have sucked blood, Warm and bright,
Held their breath and shrieked of death
Into the ghostly night. . . .
Why is the World so cruel?
Seen with Ishi's eyes,
The earth, and all things in it,
Is a mountain-pile of ice.
Then do you pity Ishi?
I need your pity, too.
I must help; I must help
But am helpless.
Oh, to be taught what to do!
Men are consoled by their women,
But this scrap in my tired arm lies,
A shriveled doll from the junk-heap,
And the strong man who holds her cries.
Why are you quiet, Ishi?
Why are your eyes shut, Why?
Wait, oh Wait, little sick one,
It is too soon to die.
Think of my struggle to save you,
Will you not stay With me?
Listen; Death shall not take you;
I have no burial fee!
Through the daze of their dreadful plight
Do I wince at a bedbug's filthy bite?)
Cry again, little Ishi;
Cry once more, once mote;
What will it take to make you wake?
For I cannot let you go!
I call; but you do not hear me;
I clasp you; you do not move.
It is not to pain I would bring you again,
There is Love in the world; there is Love!
Will she not cry?
I shall make her;
Here in my close embrace
I kiss her wan lips growing greyer;
My drawn face touches her face.
Fast are my frightened tears flowing,
Falling on Ishi’s eyes;
With her cold, still tears they are mingled
O God .... at last .... she cries!
Today I saw a monkey-boy
Standing before a toy~shop,
Gazing with all his eyes
Down at the toys.
His face was red and round,
Not quite an idiot face;
Sixteen or seventeen he was,
A bumpkin in tight trousers,
Leggings, and sandals
Made of straw.
Upon his back
Was strapped a bundle
Wrapped in black,
On which a monkey sat.
Monkey and master,
Gazed on the toys,
At their tirelessness,
One minute passed;
Two minutes ....
And neither moved.
They had not even blinked
Four minutes ....
They had not looked their fill.
What were they thinking
As they watched
The strange springs move?
What does the fever
Such as these?
Want a toy!
Day after day,
With all my might.
And when night comes
I ease my bony body down
Into a yellow chair
In our small church.
My heart is full
Of praise and prayer,
The leader's voice
My eyes stretch wide,
And fill with tears,
Remembering my sin.
I feel again
The comfort of forgiveness.
But in a little while,
I nod, A
Into the gleams
That light my path of dreams.
Half-waking, and half-sleeping,
Visions around me Creeping;
Even as dusk is neither day nor night,
So fancy is weaving, weaving,
A web for my soul's believing,
And God is one with my dream-
He is one with my dream of delight.
Ah, little heart, as you nod,
How happy these visions of God!
OUTSIDE MY WINDOW
Outside my window
Noisy voices rise
Shouting my name;
Apostle thinly clad),
Within my den
Raise up my head,
And look to see
Is it a human mother
Her clock-faced boy
With filthy nose.
Or are they animals
Far, far removed from man?
The glass distorts them . . . .
There a little girl
With a fierce moustache . . . .
A baby toddles by . . . .
The bell upon a dog's neck
Tinkles . . . . .
Chickens cheep . . . .
And broken sandals,
And foul, reeking mud
Make one great compost-heap . . . .
I know that vile things
Jump, and crawl, and leap. . .
Growl, yowl, howl. . .
And over all
The hot rays
Of the sun
Beat on the slum
Great drum. . . .
This is no time
For cold philosophy.
Come, little black-nosed babe,
Come fierce moustache,
Come dirty chicks,
We shall join hands,
And dance . . . .
If I Could Search the deepest depths of space,
Or if these eyes of flesh Could scan what lies
beyond the utmost bound of heaven,
Still could I not perceive the form of God.
And yet, would it be well to swallow up this
To grasp Love and Desire and all Reality,
As though the Universe were but a grain of
Should seek to see if this would choke me?
In with thee, Space!
Thou art as light to gulp as is the air,
Thou meaningless, shapeless, worthless, life-
less thing of cast-off skin!
Out! Out! Out!
Out from my lungs! Out!
I spew thee out again!
And now afar,
A star .... a star ....
Here Mars .... there Hercules .....
No; Space is heavy, grave. It weeps not; loves
not; has no sweet, soft lips.
This that I vomit forth is blood, and quivering
Now, who can quench the sun?
Since Spaceis ugly, quench it. Go!
Quench that great wealth of light,
That brilliancy which dazzles.
With all your strength ;
And it will wink out,
So shall I be revenged
Because I cannot make
Vile things, and rad,
Glad things, and beautiful!
O golden autumn sun,
You are a comet,
Through the sky!
Down at the wretched slum
I live in
You gild the sooty sills
As you pass by.
You have made me happy, happy, happy
You shone into my dingy little room
On the penny-posy in my gargle-bottle,
And the little bud has broken into bloom!
THE EARTH GROWN LIKE THE MOON
Is like the moon,
Flowers of ice.
It is a desert,
Has laid it waste.
The earth is frozen,
Glittering like a jewel,
Ruined by pride.
Seen from a star,
The earth gleams
Like the moon.
Mount Fuji glistens,
And the Alps
Glow in their glory.
The slums of London
And the underworld
All are shadows.
Have left the earth
In its ugliness.
Still the world
Lo, man`s sin
Before his God;
Graves of heroes
And of harlots
And dust alone.
God has at length
Frozen the world
Cold as the moon.
(And Why should not God's love for us
This world which has no love of use for Him?)
Above the temple wall
Great waxen blossoms bloom;
Gleaming boughs alight with white
Against the gloom.
From morn till even
Up, up they climb,
Trying to peep at Heaven.
Green leaves not yet unfurled-
The only lovely, flaunting things
In all the chill, drab World.
The earth and I are drab and tired,
But very, very soon
We shall be mad with beauty
When the fairy Cherries bloom!
The mokuren blossoms are much like magnolias, but the flowers come on the bare branches before the leaves are out.
THE MOON LOOKS DOWN
A drunken man
Was going through a soldiers" drill
Outside my door.
"About Face! Forward March!"
The alley echoed
To his fierce commands
And trembled to his tread.
I sprang before him,
Mimicking his words,
“About Face! Forward March!
Repent, and turn to good!"
But I was frightened
At my own loud voice,
And as I lit my lamp,
My knees began to shake
Because I thought,
“What if he comes
To stab me with a knife?"
He entered, saying,
"Yes, your words are good.
Yet, as for me,
The God of Heaven
Has cast me off. _
And how shall I believe
That He will save?
That you will save me.
For I know
That you are in the slum
To save the poor who come."
There I sat
Upon my pallet.
What to say to him
To move his heart?
At last came words of love.
Silently he sat and listened.
Word by word,
Slowly word by word,
Showed him our Lord.
The drunken man
Burst into weeping
As he told his tale.
When he was two weeks old
His mother cast him
Out on the sea-beach,
There to die—
He cursed her for a harlot,
When he was grown
To fifteen years,
He drew a sword
Upon a man,
And to hide a theft,
Burned down a home.
Nine years he was in jail.
He shook with sobbing,
As he told his tale—
The sad slum’s masterpiece.
And as we heard his sins,
We wept with him;
Wildly he wrung his hands,
And rent his clothes I
As he implored
We soothed his fears,
Knowing we find
Then Tora said,
"Tonight I sleep with you!
I threw my door ajar,
Up at the winter moon—
And even there, in that clear, cloudless sky,
I could not see the beauty passing by
The moon itself seemed drunken
weeping, lost. _ . .
Knelt with me
Down in the dust
The clocks strike midnight.
The moon looks down
Upon the slums,
Touching the little homes,
One by one,
One by one.
A strong, cold stream
On his body,
The moon ee s through the tattered door,
Silvering the filthy walls,
Watching us sleeping on the broken floor.
BESIDE MY BRAZIER
Unloved and lonely
Here I sit
Now and then
I raise myself
To rake dead ashes.
I look about the room.
Pasted on the walls
Of a worthless world.
I cannot sing,
Have forbidden it. ~
They cannot forbid
I have forsvvorn
Learning and love.
Only cry _ _ _
And weep . .
And sob ....
Tears upon tears
Till I am spent,
Will you repent.
How I long for Thee!
All feeling else is gone.
This three-mat hole
Where sunlight never strikes,
This poverty so dread
That I would fain
Cast out the cat I
I cannot feed,
(The cat that comes =
Again, and yet again)—
But I am satisfled,
My eyes behold Thee here,
And when I close them
Can feel Thee watching
By my side.
Farewell to paper~pasted walls;
I get me up
And shove my shoddy sandals on.
Throughout this land
I go to preach,
"The Kingdom if at hand!"
Crunching the frost
A figure hurries down the street,
The cold, keen wind;
And as he passes on,
He always seeks the sunny side
To walk along.
He throws himself
Down in a bright, warm spot
Beside a bank—
One of the jobless throng
That haunt the city.
Men go rushing past;
The tide of traffic roars.
But by and by,
All huddled in a heap,
He falls asleep.
Hour after hour
He dozes .... wakes . . .
And dozes . . . .
"Ah, the sun,
Is my fast friend.
I love him;
He loves me;
He loves me,
And he gives
This sweet and pleasant warmth.
But he is far,
I cannot touch
Nor thank him,
And my heart is sad.
As for the world,
It is too wide,
Too wide and cold."
A bell comes jingling down the
A loud voice calling,
And the bean-curd seller
The sleeper rouses up,
Hearing the tinkling bell,
Eager to snatch it,
To find a way
Out of his hell
Of bitter idleness—
Alas! He has no bell!
He flings himself
Against the wind,
Ashamed to sleep and doze.
“Are you as lone as I,
Up in your empty sky?"
The leather tips
Of my high clogs
And so I stumble
As I feel my Way
Along the muddy paths.
The streets '
Are sloughs of slime
After the rain—
Rutted with Wheel-tracks;
Ploughed with Wooden shoes
Strewn with the skins
With scattered bits
Of paper handbills.
Through the mire
Wade ragged boys and girls.
Yonder I see
A fool go past,
His silly mouth
There a wet policeman stands;
A rickshaw splashes by.
The muddy pools'
Mirror the wretched shops.
Through the slop.
ONE GARMENT LEFT
I have no one
To make a garment
A garment to be made.
On the streets,
The people stare at me
Each time I leave the slums.
But those who clothe themselves
In borrowed garb
Are like a crow
Wearing a peacock's feathers-
As for myself,
Sweatband on brow,
I gird me up
To move the world!
My one poor garment,
Stiff with filth,
I wait _
For it to dry.
Down at the crossing
In the mud,
Stripped thus of all that Thou hast given me,
Lord, I would give again my all to Thee!
She leaves her bed
And it is ten
When she Comes home again.
She has her bath,
And does her hair;
'Tis almost' midnight
When she kneels to pray
After her heavy day.
The Whirring wheels
Her head droops down,
Half-starved for sleep. _ _
My little sister
Of the factory
I cannot invent
Like the airships
On silver wings;
A wonderful thought
In the dawn was given,
And the stripes on my robe,
Shining from wear,
Were suddenly fair,
Bright with a light
Falling from Heaven—
Gold, and silver, and bronze
Lights from the windows of Heaven
And the thought
That a secret plan
Is hid in my hand;
That my hand is big,
Because of this plan.
Who dwells in my hand,
Knows this secret plan
Of the things He will do for the world
Using my hand!
In the clear morning
I have climbed the hill.
Smoke from the factories
Rolls west to east
Across the huge red sun.
A train puffs past I
Through tiny, far-off fields.
Bright buds are everywhere.
God of the hills,
The growing grain,
I cannot word my prayer.
God .... green things . . .
Green things .... God . .
Lord of each little leaf
On every tree;
Lord of the clouds that drift
Far out to sea,
I thank Thee
That Thou has shown
That Thou Wilt take
Penniless . . . .
I can live;
But it breaks my heart
I cannot give.
I can share my rags,
I cannot bear to hear
Starved children cry.
Penniless . .
And rain falls,
But trust is true.
Helpless, I Wait to see
What God will do.
I would be always but a little child,
Stretching my eager fingers out to catch
To touch the bright, sweet flowers;
On the path I pass
To hear the noisy insects in the grass.
Always would I know
The thrilling wonder of my Hrst white snow!
I would be always innocent:
Would always learn;
Would greet each dawn with glee;
Ah, it is much, is much,
To know the Coming Kingdom is of such!
Breasting the North,
My shoulders shiver
As I onward go.
I utterly forget
The cruel cold,
Nor feel the dark,
Because my heart
Aches with the people’s woe.
Oh, let me trust
That through my tears
God`s Kingdom has
One little inch drawn near!
Then what is it to me
That my weak body he
Beaten to dust?
I crawl from out my bed
Into the cold,
And gaze up at the stars again,
Finding God there
To help me bear
My daily load
Of grief and care,
Sorrow and pain.
Deep in the night
Our spirits meet,
And prayer is sweet!
A WRAITH'S EXISTENCE
I get of life
Grow daily less.
I eat coarse rice;
My bloodless body
I have no house,
And so i
Becomes my home,
And there I pass my time.
They say that spring
But no flowers bloom,
And I must still breathe on
The cold raw air
But my frozen flesh,
Leaves me limbless-
Only a thin, grey ghost
O spring-time sun,
And shed a tear
For this poor Wraith,
SCULPTOR OF THE SOUL
I fain would be a sculptor of the soul,
Making each strong line fine,
Each feature faultless.
Yet the sculptor cannot carve
In wood or stone
An image nobler than he sees
Within his own stout soul.
So, gazing at the tools within my hand
I shudder! How escape from self . . .
That I may be indeed
Happy is this thought;
There is a Guide for me
Who in His living flesh
Has given me the perfect image that I
seek, of God!
The fault is mine;
I cannot pray
In this dark place.
But when I raise my eyes
The form of my '
Own formless God
Can look unto His face.
The green leaves wither;
Buzz in the Wan sunset;
And little, hungry children
By shop doors
Listless, are playing yet.
O God`s fair Country!
O present world
Of grief, and pain, and loss!
Their will to live,
Though life be cursed,
That is my cross!
-Pages 80 and 81 are missing-
("The Waves are Silent" and "Love Me Not" will be added later)
Flow, O my tears!
Well up and fall,
Soul of my inmost soul,
Dissolve in grief—
For I have lost
The precious ALL
I offered God.
Lift up your doleful voice;
For from the day
I turned to human love,
His presence has
Departed from me—
And I know not where!
Lift up your voice,
And cry aloud;
That I may wring you dry
For I would see my God,
Immerse the world in woe
Then fling my life away!
Oh, that my tears
The path by which
God flees from me!
Tears of my heart,
Help me to capture Him!
Oh, agony and pain
To long .... to long . .
The face of God again!
My God is Love;
My God is Love,
Tender and deep;
I feel His close, sweet presence
Looking down to see
Lying in my arms asleep.
On a hut—
Our little hut—
Where we stand,
My love and I,
Heart to heart,
Hand in hand.
As the springtime bud
Grow, close together,
So shall we grow,
Forever and ever.
By the sea
My love and I,
Hand in hand;
And our glad souls fly
To the scarlet sky,
Wing to wing—
And the only voice that can call us home
Is the Cry of the poor we have left in the slum'
We may be beaten
By the world;
Flesh fallen away,
Yet shall our spirit lives
O brave one,
Surely our happiness
Is like Heaven!
Tired of the world,
We can always fly
Up to the wide and wonderful sky,
You and I,
Hand in Hand,
Heart to heart,
Wing to wing,
Bright as the rising sun
IN THE HEART OF MY HEART
You who dwell
In the heart of my heart
Listen to me;
This you must know—
I am a child of grief and pain
Bending my lingers to count my woe.
You yield me
I can bring
To give to you.
You have married
Bear it with -me;
The storm will be
A little while
O angel one,
You must not weep;
Come near . . . .
Take Thou the burden, Lord;
I am exhausted with this heavy load.
My tired. hands tremble,
And I stumble, stumble
Along the Way.
Oh, lead with Thine unfailing arm
Unless Thou lead me, Lord,
The road I journey on is all too hard
Through trust in Thee alone
Can I go on.
Yet not for self alone
Thus do I groan;
My people's sorrows are the load I bear.
Lord, hear my prayer-
May Thy strong hand
Strike off all chains
That load my well-loved land.
God, draw her close to Thee!
Toyohikco Kagawa was born in Kobe, Japan, July
10, 1888. His father was first head of some nineteen
villages in his native province of Awa, and later was
elevated to secretaryship of the Privy Council which,
because of its function of advising the Emperor, was
the most influential body in the Empire. Kagawa's
childhood was a sad one, for he was the son of one of
his father's concubines, and both parents died when he
was four years old. He went to live in the ancestral
village of Awa, in the care of his father's neglected
wife and a foster grandmother. Here, in a great
thatch-roofed farmhouse, he lived a lonely life, abused
and humiliated because of his birth by the two women
in whose care he was placed. Nature was even at
that time the great solace of his heart.
Except for a profligate brother who went through
the family estate in the process of his dissipation, but
whose occasional visits home were a bright spot in
the life of the boy, he knew little real affection until
he entered school in the city of Tokushima. At a
time when he was in danger of succumbing to the
melancholia that often threatens the reserved and
highly sensitive youth of Japan in adolescence, love
came into his life in the person of two missionaries,
Dr. H. W. Myers and Dr. C. A. Logan. Both were
friends and counselors to the lonely lad, and it was
through them that he came to know the personality
of Christ, and to find purpose and meaning in life.
With the heart-felt prayer, “O God, make me like
Christ," he entered upon that fellowship with God to
the reality of which his whole subsequent life has
been a testimony.
Reading of the work of Canon Barnett in the slums
of London, he decided to dedicate his life to the service
of the poor. This choice of religion and Vocation
brought down the wrath of his uncle, the head of the
family, upon him, and resulted in his being disin-
herited. He was firm in his choice, however, and in
1905 he entered the Presbyterian College in Tokyo, in
preparation for the ministry. There he distinguished
himself first as an omnivorous reader (his taste running
to Kant, Darwin, Ruskin, and Max Muller) and second
as a lover and defender of the weak and needy.
At the time of the Russo-Japanese War Kagawa, who
had been deeply influenced by Tolstoi, declared himself
a pacifist, and as a result one night was taken out to
the baseball ground by his fellow-students and beaten.
Years later, one of those whose blows had fallen upon
him again laid hands upon him, this time to offer his
While still in the second year of college he was
stricken with tuberculosis, and had to seek health on
the seashore, where he spent himself in the service of
the fishing folk about him. It was there that he drafted
his first novel- which was one day to give him a fore-
most place among the writers of japan. He wrote in
such poverty that it had to be inscribed with the
Japanese writing brush on the pages of cast-away
When only partially recovered he went to Kobe to
enter the theological seminary, and while yet in his
seminary studies he felt the call of the slums of the
city, the worst, perhaps, in all the world. Ar that
time there were in this section, known as the Shinkawa,
some twenty thousand outcasts, paupers, criminals,
beggars, prostitutes, and defectives, who lived like
homeless dogs in human kennels of filth and vermin
and disease. Policemen feared to visit this district
unless they went in groups. Often a single house, not
more than six feet square, would accommodate a
family of five, or two families of nine to ten persons.
A community kitchen, a water hydrant and a common
toilet of unspeakable filth often served the needs of a
score of families. The district swarmed with scrofu-
lous, undernourished children, and the infantile mor-
tality often reached the staggering height of over
500 in 1000.
Kagawa`s one room was about six feet square, with-
out a bed, stove, table, or chair. One of the first appli-
cants for his aid was a man covered from head to foot
with blotches of contagious itch. Kagawa, feeling
that this was the great test for him, received him and
made him his bedfellow. In time, opening his little
room indiscriminately to people with all manner of
diseases, he himself contracted not only the itch but
also a dreaded eye disease from which he has never
Here in his Shinkawa home Kagawa cared for the
sick, washing their infected clothes with his own
hands, and taught the more ambitious of the popula-
tion, holding classes in reading and writing at an
early hour before his students went out to work.
Here he became the champion of babies and children
who had been rented out to old women at so much per
month by parents who did not want them, pod who
were slowly allowed to starve by their callous cus-
todians. Even while still in theological seminary
Kagawa adopted one such child to prevent its being
starved to death, and through slow months while
still carrying on work in the seminary, nursed it back
to life. He continued to live in his six-by-six room
but as his duties increased he added another room
which served as a dispensary and hospital.
After his first novel had been discovered one day by
a publisher who called at his house in search of ma~
terial for a magazine, it was published in book form
and 111 a short time Kagawa's name was a household
word over the Empire. Other books rapidly appeared,
all of _them eagerly devoured by the public.
Whllc Kagawél was attending the theological semi-
UHYY he Came to know a "Miss Spring,” a young
woman who was a worker in a factory where he had
preached._ Under his influence she accepted Christ’s
WHY 0f_l1fe, and longed to give herself in the same
hard, high service that was being performed by the
0f1@ Who had brought her the message. Two of the
most beautiful poems of this book tell of the life
partnership to which this friendship led.
In IQI4 the way opened for Kagawa to study for two
years in Amer1ca. He spent this time in Princeton
Theological Seminary, and in investigating social serv-
ice institutions in this country. Lucrative positions
were offered him on his return to Japan, but he refused
them all and returned to his little room in the slums.
In the course of time he found himself involved not
QDIY in the problems of his immediate neighbors, but
in social issues which affected the well-being of millions
throughout Japan. In 1911 he led striking workers
in a procession several miles long, demanding the
recognition of their union and voicing their radical
demand: “Laborers are personalities. They are not
commodities to be bought and sold according to a
scale of wages based on the market price." More
than once Kagawa was arrested, at one time being
beaten with a saber and dragged hatless and shoeless
to the police station.
It was not the army of industrial workers alone, how-
ever, that called forth the creative sympathy of Kaga-
wa. The majority of Japan's workers are farmers,
and in a country smaller than the state of California,
eighty-two per cent of which cannot_be cultivated,
with a population per arable square mile Of_7_,418, or
the most overcrowded in the world, the life of the
rural population is particularly hard. Forty-six per
cent of them are tenant farmers, and Kagawa found
that the struggle for existence was constantly driving
many of these to the cities, to swell the population Of
the slums. He found that the sources of supply for
public and private prostitution were these, poverty-
stricken rural villages. In 1931, in Kagawas hut 111
the Shinkawa, the first true peasant union in Japan
was organized, the first of a long series of undertakings
on the part of Kagawa for the farmer-folk, In the
course of the years these have included, widespread
peasants' co-operatives, the peasants' "gospel schools
at which religion is interpreted in terms of scientific
farming and village improvement, and in magazines
designed to promote the co-operative movement among
the peasants, to which Kagawa has been the chief con-
Kagawa is a tireless advocate of the co-operatives
as the next step in bringing about a socialized economy.
He has built up a medical co-operative in Tokyo with
its own hospital and some 6,000 members, and has
been responsible for the organization of consumers
co-operatives in many of the large cities. In one_of
these, in Osaka, polished rice may be bought which
has been grown by peasant co-operators and milled by
the consumers' co-operative. Suits of clothing may be
purchased at this store for about five yen (two dollars).
In addition to this, the city settlements in Tokyo and
Osaka, with their kindergartens, shelters for the desti-
tute, co-operative pawn shops, and banks, are well
known all over Japan.
While proclaiming himself a socialist, he has stood
uncompromisingly against extreme tactics of violence
and hatred, and at times has met the full force of at-
tack from the extreme left as well as from the right.
As a pacifist, committed to the elimination of the
economic causes of war, Kagawa organized the National
Anti-War League in Japan in 1918. He has voiced
his opposition to the imperialist policy of the govern-
ment since I93I, and on a recent visit to China has
taken occasion publicly to apologize for the conduct
of his countrymen. As the leading spirit back of the
Kingdom of God Movement he has been instrumental
in uniting Christian forces of Japan in a campaign that
has as its goal one million Christians in Japan, and the
realization of love in social life.
While engaged in his manifold activities of speaking
and directing the work of numerous social organiza-
tions in Japan Kagawa continues to be a prolific writer.
Kagawa now lives in a small village outside of
Tokyo, but the demands of his enterprises all over the
Japanese Empire, and urgent calls for his counsel and
message in other parts of the world, have forced him
to spend a large part of his time in travel. His health
is still poor, yet he continues to turn out the work of
several men, seemingly having found some hidden
source of energy. Above all, he remains a man whose
life is organized about prayer, having adopted the
practice of spending a full hour in the early morning
in fellowship with God.