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‘Strong in the Rain,” a classic Japanese poetry collection from Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1921), beautifully reveals much about both nature and humanity.

Miyazawa, raised in rural Iwate Prefecture, was an agricultural science teacher, a devout Buddhist and a social activist. Best known for his children’s books, notably “Night on the Milky Way Train,” Miyazawa’s poems reveal a deeper layer to the talented Japanese artist and activist. His sharply intellectual lyricism blends a knowledge of science and egalitarianism. Nature is not a peripheral ideal, subservient to humanity, but the essential core of existence. Miyazawa’s imagery spans geological time as a metaphor for the heart (“My Heart Now”) or evokes all the grief and guilt of death within the dropping of pine needles (“Pine Needles”). Stylistically, the poems startle in their diversity, from sparse, spare snippets of metaphor to long, prose-poems in narrative form.

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