The Nighthawk Star

Earth creature's longing for stars

Flying high into the sky by converting hardship into enormous energy
In the stories of Kenji birds and plants often pray with great longing to become stars in the firmament. But the stars seem to maintain the remote, eternal order which earthbound souls can hardly hope to attain. It would take exceptional, enormous energy to transform oneself from an earth creature into a brightly shining star. The ugly nighthawk, who had experienced strict hardship being despised by fellow birds, could convert this hardship into enormous energy to fly up to heaven, and in the end could glow as the nighthawk star.

Ugly nighthawk "The nighthawk was really a very ugly bird. His face had reddish brown blotches as though someone had daubed it with bean paste, his beak was flat, and his mouth stretched right around to his ears." This is the way the ugliness of the nighthawk is described from the opening of the story. Other birds scorned him as "a disgrace to all birds." he was called "nighthawk" because his voice was piercing and reminded others of a real hawk. But he wasn't related to the hawk. In fact, the nighthawk lived by catching winged insect, and no one, not even the weakest bird, was afraid of him.
Threat by the hawk

I want to fly far into the sky
Moreover, the real hawk demanded he should change his name from nighthawk to Algernon. Otherwise, the hawk threatened to kill him. Scorned by other birds, and now threatened by the hawk, the nighthawk felt so miserable that he decided to fly far away before being killed.
At dawn the nighthawk flew straight ahead toward the sun and said, "Sun, won't you take me up with you? I'll gladly die in your fire if I have to. My body may be ugly, yet surely it will give out at least a tiny bit of light as it burns." But the sun answered, "Why don't you fly up into the sky tonight and ask the stars instead. You're really a bird of the night."
Nighthawk glowing as a star That night he flew high into the sky and made the same request to several stars. But they just laughed at his conceited request. Undaunted, the nighthawk strove to fly even higher. At last his strength completely failed him, leaving his wings numb and useless, and that was the last of the nighthawk.
A while later, the nighthawk opened his eyes and saw quite clearly that his own body was glowing gently with a beautiful blue light like burning phosphorous. They say it is still burning to this day.
Material in quotation marks is
from Once and FOREVER, the tales of kenji miyazawa,
translated by John Bester, published by Kodansha International.

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