Thursday, March 17, 2011


On the twentyseventh May eleven hundred   
and seventyseven, eight p.m., fire broke out   
at the corner of Tomi and Higuchi streets.   
In a night
palace, ministries, university, parliament
destroyed. As the wind veered
flames spread out in the shape of an open fan.   
Tongues torn by gusts stretched and leapt.
In the sky clouds of cinders lit red with the blaze.
Some choked, some burned, some barely escaped.   
Sixteen great officials lost houses and
very many poor. A third of the city burned;   
several thousands died; and of beasts,
limitless numbers.

Men are fools to invest in real estate.


Basil Bunting
from Chomei at Toyama
first published in Poetry, September 1933


American Red Cross


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