Yone Noguchi

(1875 - 1947 / Tsushima)

Biography of Yone Noguchi

Yonejirō Noguchi (December 8, 1875 - July 13, 1947), was an influential Japanese writer of poetry, fiction, essays, and literary criticism in both English and Japanese. He is known in the West by his pen name Yone Noguchi. He was the father of noted sculptor Isamu Noguchi.

Noguchi was born in what is now part of the city of Tsushima, near Nagoya. He attended Keio University in Tokyo, where he was exposed to the works of Thomas Carlyle and Herbert Spencer, and also expressed interests in haiku and Zen. He lived for a time in the home of Shiga Shigetaka, editor of the magazine Nihonjin, but left before graduating to travel to San Francisco in November 1893. There, Noguchi joined a newspaper run by Japanese exiles associated with the Freedom and People's Rights Movement and worked as a domestic servant. He spent some months at Palo Alto, California studying at a preparatory school for Stanford University and working as a journalist before determining, after a visit to the Oakland hillside home of Joaquin Miller, his true vocation of poet. Miller welcomed and encouraged Noguchi and introduced him to other San Francisco Bay area bohemians, including Gelett Burgess (who published Noguchi's first verses in his magazine, The Lark), Ina Coolbrith, Edwin Markham, Adeline Knapp, Blanche Partington, and Charles Warren Stoddard. Noguchi weathered a plagiarism scandal in 1896 to publish two books of poetry in 1897, and remained an important fixture of the Bay Area literary scene until his departure for Chicago in 1899. He submitted articles for the evening edition of the New York Post, and moved on to the East Coast in 1900.

PoemHunter.com Updates

At Night

At night the Universe grows lean, sober-
faced, of intoxication,
The shadow of the half-sphere curtains
down closely against my world, like a
doorless cage, and the stillness chained by
wrinkled darkness strains throughout the Uni-
verse to be free.
Listen, frogs in the pond, (the world is a pond itself)
cry out for the light, for the truth!

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