Nearly a year has passed since a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami triggered Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster, forcing 80,000 people to evacuate their homes. Today, the dogs left behind in the exclusion zone huddle in what remains of devastated homes, burying themselves in a mix of newspapers and torn blankets to fend off the cold.
Those too weak to move lie on the floor hoping for help to come, or perhaps the simple finality of death.
“The government insists there are few pets left, but we see their footprints in the snow.”
When I heard those words spoken by Yasunori Hoso of the United Kennel Club of Japan in this video, I thought of two things: Sarah McLachlan's ASPCA commercial looks like a vacation by comparison, and that this poem by Ezra Pound, entitled "Song of the Bowmen of Shu," takes on an unexpected significance:
Here we are, picking the first fern-shoots
And saying: When shall we get back to our country?
Here we are because we have the Ken-nin for our foemen,
We have no comfort because of these Mongols.
We grub the soft fern-shoots,
When anyone says "Return," the others are full of sorrow.
Sorrowful minds, sorrow is strong, we are hungry and thirsty.
Our defense is not yet made sure, no one can let his friend return.
We grub the old fern-stalks.
We say: Will we be let to go back in October?
There is no ease in royal affairs, we have no comfort.
Our sorrow is bitter, but we would not return to our country.
What flower has come into blossom?
Whose chariot? The General's.
Horses, his horses even, are tired. They were strong.
We have no rest, three battles a month.
By heaven, his horses are tired.
The generals are on them, the soldiers are by them.
The horses are well trained, the generals have ivory arrows and
quivers ornamented with fish-skin.
The enemy is swift, we must be careful.
When we set out, the willows were drooping with spring,
We come back in the snow,
We go slowly, we are hungry and thirsty,
Our mind is full of sorrow, who will know of our grief?