Samuel Lieberman

Oh, Mt. Fuji: Poem and Commentary for GI’s and Other Tourists (ca. 1947)

Grey sky, green pine.
Soon will snow fall.
Grey will turn to white,
Will fall on pine,
Will flutter on ground.
I’ve got to sit down
And rest this heavy bundle
Which is making me
Black and blue.
I’ll take off my tabi
And scratch my foot
Which itches. Oh, Mt. Fuji!

Commentary: For Western Tourists and Our Friends, the Occupation Forces (Souvenirs Cheaply Inwards):

This is an example of the delicate style of our famous Japanese poet, Onakaga Suita, whose works appear on all kinds of pottery, cups, saucers, soup bowels, and our beautiful cloisonné small sized chamber pots for carrying night soil (Souvenirs Brings a Bite of Old Japan to your Ones at Home. Way In—Take Care of Foot).

The pine tree, a symbol of deep spiritual signification in our country, makes a Japanese feel at home with its needles. Snow also has a profound spiritual significance because it melts. When the snow which has waited on the gray sky falls on the branches of the pine tree, (Stunted Pines also sold Inwards) the Japanese people are filled with sentiment and must sit down and look on Mount Fiji (HUZI).

The bundle means the pretty colored silk “furoshiki” which is used to wrap bundles and can contain rice, fish and chips, blankets, old sewing machines, hidden samurai swords, black market cig—uh—anything that a person can carry on his (or her) back.

The scratching of the toes refers to the beautiful old Japanese custom of bathing which originated in Japan as a spiritual exercise introduced by a famous old Japanese feudal lord who is said to have uttered the words that changed everything: “Fill the Tub. I want to bathe.” (See Pamphlet xyz, Nippon Travel Bureau Cultural Organization, Bathing and Other Curious Customs.) So scratching the toes means that when the traveler gets to his home or to his yadoya, he is going to have a bath . . . if he can get hot water. it is all very spiritual and gives one a feeling of quiet contemplation which is so typical of Japanese life ( . . . Souvenirs . . . . . .) Peace, quiet and detachment and good old Mt. Fuji (HUZI).

The poet himself will write this for anyone on beautiful old Japanese rice paper in Japanese character (Very Cheaply Here—2000 yen or 10 cartons of cigarettes.)




‘Oh, Mt. Fuji’ and Lieberman’s Tokyo, Winter 1946 appeared in Japan: Theme & Variations: A Collection of Poems by Americans, edited by Charles Tuttle (Tokyo: Tuttle, 1959).






Home | Top | Previous | Next