This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
by A. A. Hyde,
School of Missions
of tbe East Series CRANMER-BYNG KAPADIA Dr.Wisfcom EDITED BY L. S. THE SPIRIT OF JAPANESE POETRY . A.
WISDOMyOF THE EAST THE SPIRIT OF JAPANESE POETRY BY YONE NOGUCHI LONDON JOHN MURRAY. 1914 . W. ALBEMARLE STREET.
sents of this book repreCuckoo in connection with the Japanese Uta poem which will be found on page 30. The cover design the ALL RIGHTS RESERVED .NOTE.
. 71 V THE POETS OF PRESENT JAPAN VI . .CONTENTS rie* INTRODUCTION 9 JAPANESE POETEY II 15 THE JAPANESE HOKKU POETRY III . . 33 No : THE JAPANESE PLAY OF SILENCE . 54 IV THE EARLIEST JAPANESE POETRY . 90 SOME SPECIMENS 112 .
TO ARTHUR SYMONS .
Something perfect. The breeze on his face. Comes like the stir of the day One whose breath is an odour. Whose eyes show the road to stars. The glory of Heaven on his back. . sparkling mystery. YONB NOQUCHI. In his sight One And shall turn from the dust of the grave move upward to the woodland. His abode is the sunlight of morn.THE POET Out A of the deep and the dark. He steps like a vision hung in air Diffusing the passion of eternity . . The musio of eve hia speech . a shape.
S. S.W. S. A. KENSINGTON. and in their own sphere. object of the Editors of this series is a very They desire above all things that. these books shall be the ambassadors of good-will and understanding between East and West the old world of Thought and the new of Action.EDITORIAL NOTE THE definite one. In this endeavour. L. they are but followers of the highest example in the land. . 21 CROMWELL ROAD. NORTHBROOK SOCIETY. CRANMER-BYNG. in their humble way. They are confident that a deeper knowledge of the great ideals and lofty philosophy of Oriental thought may help to a revival of that true spirit of Charity which neither despises nor fears the nations of another creed and colour. KAPADIA.
is bound to become stale and stupid if it shuts itself up for too long a time it must sooner or later be its best. to believe the general supposition. nearly dead. the traits which turned meaningless for us a long time ago. . . Whistler and others strange to think how the Japanese art of the Ukiyoye school. of > THERE . .INTRODUCTION are beauties and characteristics of poetry any country which cannot be plainly seen by it is often a those who are born with them to see them and use them. privilege foreigner's without a moment's hesitation. I have seen examples of it in the work of Western artists in adopting our Japanese traits of art. and whose but what a beauties were lost in time's dust force and peculiarity of art Utamaro or Hiroshige. inspired in It may seem Monet. but any poetry of any country. 9 . to his best advantage as he conceives it. And is it not the same case with poetry ? Not only the English poetry. commonplace at ! could work such a wonder when it was but after all adopted by the Western hand that is not strange at all.
Perhaps it is my destitution of musical sense (a Western critic declared that Japanese are for the most part unmusical) to find myself more often unmoved by the English rhymes and metres let me confess that. can make some contribution to English The English poem. for lack of a proper expression. That is why even we Japanese. To shake off classicism. is governed too greatly by old history and toojust compare it with the respectable prosody English prose. I dare say. we might call physical or external. or to put it more abruptly. It is not only my own confession. as it seems to me. already revolts and rebels against something in English poems or verses which. .10 INTRODUCTION rejuvenated and enlivened with some new force. to forget everything of history or usage. and talk with it briefly. which has made such a stride in the recent age. own Japanese mind confession. I go straightforward to the writer's inner soul to speculate on it. born under the golden clime. As my attention is never held by the harmony of language. my . begins being suggested by the poetry of some foreign country. but the general confession of nearly all Japanese . before perceiving the silver sound of a poet like Tennyson or Swinburne. poetry. I am sound-blind or tone-deaf that is my honest . to see and be amazed at its unchanging gait. often means to make a fresh start such a start often . and gains a strength and beauty. .
A person lonesome from concentration. And prays before his own soul and destiny He is a pseudonym of the universal Consciousness. in which the characters sway in music. ! . as I once wrote on the Buddha realised in meditation priest . . It is my own opinion that the appearance of Basho. received a sudden salvation through His greatest his own pain and imagination. was the the greatest happening of our Japanese annals been had which degenerating Japanese poetry. what a I always in and the No tragedy beauty stage think that it would be certainly a great thing if the No drama could be properly introduced into the result would be no small protest the West the Western against stage. hope.INTRODUCTION 11 our Japanese minds always turn. . : " He He a touch beyond word. Oh. we have the No drama. to become a poet without words. let me dare say. we Japanese as if a web in the air of perfume find our own joy and sorrow in it." feels : When the Japanese poetry joined its hand with the stage. to something imaginative. our beloved Hokku master. was finally he was. soft but vivid. reads the silence's sigh. for centuries. . it would mean a real revelation for those people who are well tired of their own plays with a certain pantomimic spirit underneath.
. our poetry on our own true culture. . We started our country as the land of poetry our forefathers were poets themselves. But I often quarrelled with them on the point that the real poetry of any country should be an expression of beauty and truth we must build. Besides. they should be treated independently in a separate volume . It is my own opinion that the true Japanese poetry should be.12 INTRODUCTION . People who are already familiar with the Japanese poetry would ask me why I did not dwell on our Uta poetry at some length I confess that my poetical taste desires far more intensity than the Uta poems. . as I once wrote. patience of centuries. a potted tree of a thousand years' our song should be a Japanese teagrowth house four mats and a half in all where we burn the rarest incense which rises to the sky again our song should be an opal with six colours that shine within. poetry. . in my opinion. they think that it is only the way to escape from the so-called literature this poetical strength and beauty their opinion that they find all the Western literary ideals in our Japanese ancient life and and gain it is . They were free as the winds are free. whose artificial execution often proves. which we formed through the pain and . When our modern young poets cry to go back to the age of their forefathers. I always insist. to be their weakness rather than strength.
Robert Bridges. March 10th. and Dr. and the Quest Society have been based more or less on the other chapters . 1914. H. President of the College and Professor of Poetry in the Uniand my lectures at the Japan Society. the Laureate. in the book.INTRODUCTION 13 they have their own poetical history of more than two thousand years. versity the Royal Asiatic Society. " The Japanese HoTcku Poetry " is the lecture delivered in the Hall of Magdalen College at the Poet invitation of Mr. Y. Warren. . N. T. LONDON.
take a so-called poetical licence. doubtless words. 15 . from such a view-point I do not hesitate to declare that the English poets." tentions. I can prove with many instances I . at least less distinguished. I mean that what they write about. poets waste too much energy in and with all good inmake. to speak slangily. are far behind the novelists. words. but often deceive When I say it seems that they their own souls.THE SPIRIT OF JAPANESE POETRY JAPANESE POETRY COME always to the conclusion that the English " words. is not Life or Voice itself. simply from the reason that its full liberty to appear naked is denied. It is the poets more than the novelists who not only misinterpret their own meaning. by the yard. particularly the American poets. their inner meaning frustrate.
it seems to live To poetry . While they are poets different in nature. though I do not know the exact meaning of that term. as same as the French and the Japanese). the seventeen-sy liable Hokku poet of three hundred and fifty years ago. the so-called French symbolist. but how much they is the main thing. though not wise at best but. as different as a Japanese from a Frenchman (or it might be said. . while the work credited to his wonderful name could be printed in less than one hundred pages of any ordinary size. as the very best poems are left unwritten or sung in silence.16 JAPANESE POETRY that there are books and books of " poems " in which one cannot find any particular design of their authors it is never too much to say that they have a good intention. and the question of the . And it is from the same reason that I pay an equal reverence to Stephane Mallarme. to the publication of their own work not how . are only the second best. or. to have only that good intention is not the way to make art or literature advance. I always insist that the written poems. in another word. after all. written. written or pubpoems from such a reason I lished is indeed secondary regard our Basho Matsuwo. It is my opinion that the real test for poets is how far they resist their impulse to utterance. as great. true to say. much they have have destroyed. even when they are said to be good.
the fact that they have left little work behind is the blessed be point that I should like to emphasise to the content of who can in silence sing they The real their hearts in love of perfection. " not making merely words. and metres. We have a little homely proverb " The true heart will be protected by a god. to very point that they have often been mistaken for mere idealists. the Japanese and the Frenchman. For a poet to have few lines in these prosaic . poetry and say that poetry will take care of itself all by itself without any assistance from words. words.THE POETICAL REALISTS me 17 that they join hands unconditionally in the point of denying their hearts too free play. or making them leaving the return to their original proper places. should begin with the first act of " words " behind. I flatter myself that even Japan can do something towards the reforma2 . days would be at least an achievement truly I think that the crusade of the Western heroic poetry." I should like to apply it to . and words. prayer should be told in silence. are poetical realists whose true realism is heightened or " " by the strength of their own enigmatised the self-denial. if it is necessary. Putting aside the question whether they are great or not. with the result of making poetry living and divine." further the and in point that both of them. as I believe it is most momentous. rhymes. even though it offer no prayer at all.
One who in or New for York. It is fantastic to say that night and day. Japanese poetry. . is different from Western poetry in the same way as silence is different from a voice. makes them so interesting. as well as by the day and voice let me confess.18 tion or JAPANESE POETRY advancement of the Western poetry. when I . know the real night hardly beauty it is my opinion that the Western character. and for my patient attention to the voice of the falling snow. if that part of the beauty of Nature might be emphasised. that my suspicion of the Western poetic feeling dates from quite far back in the days of my old California life. our Japanese The Japanese poetry life of dream and silence ! . . instance. I can say that the latter always fails. however. Oh. . or at least toned down. not only spiritually. while avoiding the too close night from day discussion of their relative merits. but also physically. particularly of Americans. at least the old Japanese poetry. silence and let me admit that they voice. naturally enough through being too active to properly value inaction. or death passive phase of Life and the World. can lives. would be sweetened. The sensitiveness of our human nature makes us to be influenced by the night and silence. to speak shortly. was quite often laughed at for my aimless loitering under the moonbeams. the restfulness. are all the same are vastly different it is their difference that . Chicago of and silence .
stars. . let me say. .THE REAL VALUE is 19 that of the moon. and flowers. Kokinshiu preface " without an effort. and not to sing of them is the proof of our reverence toward them. since we human beings are not merely a part of Nature. but born. heaven and earth are moved. one has everything before him on which to let his imagination freely play as a result he will come to have an almost personal . which. leads us to the conception is swift. but from our thought that it would be better. by virtue of its intensity. discontinuous. and gods and demons " invisible to our eyes are touched with sympathy the real value of the Japanese poems may be measured by what mood or illusion they inspire in the reader's mind. to leave them alone. it is. If we do not sing so much of Life and the World it is not from the reason that we think their value negative. a searchlight or flash of thought or passion cast on a moment of Life and Nature. It is not too much to say that an appreciative reader of poetry in Japan is not made. as Tsurayuki remarks in his . . Besides. as the Japanese poetry is never just like a poet explanatory. but Nature itself. So it is the best of our seventeensyllable Hokku and thirty-one syllable Ufa poems that by their art. of the whole it an isolated piece. When our Japanese poetry is best. in most cases. that of a bird and waterfall for the noisiest. to sing the stars and the flowers in Japan means to sing Life.
only partly) through determination in the rejection of inessentials from the phrase and the insistence upon just at this economy of the inner thought I write while this moment. the sweetest of all femininity for any age or race. : . When you realise that the expression or words always mislead you. the important suggestive question is how ? Although I know it sounds rather arbitrary. my mind is recalled to the which my old word suddenly " Cut California poet-friend used to exclaim " cut and cut short short. short. expressed in language of pearl-like simplicity. When I read " A White Lilac " from A Quiet Road (what a title with the sixteenth-century dreaminess) I was at once struck by her sensias a better specimen let me tiveness to odour give you the following . it will be seen what a literary achievement it is when one can say a thing which passes well as real poetry in such a small compass mentioned before to say " " is simple enough. often making themselves an obstacle to a mood or an illusion. whether studied or not. makes me think of her as a Japanese poet among Americans. again The other day I happened to read the work of Miss Lizette Wordworth Reese. : ! . article.20 JAPANESE POETRY it attachment to as much as the author himself. I may say that such a result may be gained partly (remember. whose sensitiveness. .
Explanation is forbidden in the House of the Japanese the Abode of Imagination. The " scent of herbs. . as in tea-house of four mats and a half." With all due respect. bit of broken glass . Although of this American poetess it is said that her rejection of inessentials is tho secret of her personality and style. drips on the pane A hundred things come in at the door. The red Down to flags running wet and straight. the hundred things and more That come in at the door . gray and " such a commonplace betender is the ram ginning.EXPLANATION " IS FORBIDDEN ." would sacrifice the first three stanzas to make the last sparkle fully and unique like a perfect diamond. " But oh. old joy. "as a Japanese poet. where. I declared bluntly that I. old pain. and three. the thought of yore. gray and tender is the rain. like a ghost or Miss Reese's rain. The smack of mint. That drips. only the hints tender and gray. Caught in the gray and tender rain. There is no loveliness so plain. A " I see the pool out in the grass. 21 Oh. it seems that that rejection is not sufficient for Poesy for Japanese. As a tall poplar in the rain. Lombardy poplars Across the road tall I see. I thought afterwards what a pity to become an American poetess if " she has to begin her poem with Oh. little the flapping gate. are suffered to be dwelling.
you are although the outsider of our Japanese poems if you cannot read immediately what they do not describe to . If my I be telligible from too much rejection. even a good poem ? The poem. to which the poet Buson's world-wearied old ears awakened you will see " hundred things and more that come that the " of his mind should be understood. Here I am reminded of a particular Hokku. . or like a real prayer for which only a few words uttered are enough. in such a Lilliputian form of seventeen syllables in the original. by Buson Yosano of the eighteenth century : " Of the samidare rain List to the Utsubo Bashira pipe These ears of my old age " ! ! unbelievable to you when I tell you that a complete Japanese poem. Indeed. as you see. I blamed as uninhave only to say that the true poetry should be written only to one's own heart to record the pain or joy. that descends from the eaves (how like a Is it such is Japanese poem with a singular distinction of inability to sing !). you. carries my mind at once to the season's rain and the Utsubo Bashira. in at the door he does not say it. like a soul's diary whose sweetness can be kept when it is hidden secretly. a rain-poem like Miss Reese's. or Pipe of Emptying.22 JAPANESE POETRY Japanese mind.
. to use a Japanese expression. I exclaimed What : ! It appeared to from the Socialist platform rather than a poem I hope I do not offend the author if I say that it was the American journalist whose mind of curiosity always turns. above all. Putting aside many things. was terribly shattered quite many years ago when Edwin Markham's The Man with a Hoe made a furore in the American " You say it is Press. theorised. we cannot stand in poetry. to making billows rise from the poetry ? How .THE MAN WITH A HOE 23 My Japanese opinion. and moralised. I dare guise of poetry An American Anthology by Mr. . that they preached. that think. shaped by hereditary impulse and education. besides singing . . It was the strength of the old Western poets.journalists perfectly jammed in the pages. Markham's poem has an inexcusable error to the Japanese mind that is its exaggeration. Before Edwin Markham there was Whittier. is it " possible ? me to be a cry ground. . One cannot act contrary to education we are more or less the creation of tradition and circumstance. Stedman. who sent out editorial volleys under the it is not too much to say. particularly Americans. would look certainly better if it were reduced to one hundred pages from its eight hundred we are bewildered to see so many poet. and even despise as very bad taste. which. I think I can say that Mr. in their own days but when I see that our Japanese .
through a mysterious way. and winds. merely a Japanese freakishness or vagary if we appear to you in the matter of poetry to make much ado about nothing. to the height of its peculiar worth. so as to make the meaning of the whole of them perfect and clear. to value the beauty of inaction so as to emphasise action. though . flowers. and what not. think it is social reform. with the stars. from the point of its use of uselessness it rises. where ness. as we Japanese poets. to useful- one knows that the things useless are the things most useful under different circumstances (to give one example. We treafc poetry.24 JAPANESE POETRY poetry was never troubled by Buddhism or Confucianism. I trust. to think of Death so as to make Life more attractive. lo. although I do not insist upon their conforming themselves. he will see that the aspect of uselessness in poetry is to be doubly valued since its usefulness is always born from it like the day out of the bosom of night you cannot call it. which becomes important when you happen to hear its sermon). it may sound too ambitious to the Western mind. I time for them to live more of the passive side of Life and Nature. I have no quarrel with one who emphasises the . its uselessness turns. I am glad here to venture that the Western poet would be better off by parting from Christianity. I dare say we have our own attitude toward poetry. When . a little stone lazy by a stream.
NOT TORMENTED BY CRITICISM
immediate necessity of joining the hand of poetry and life however, I wish to ask him the question what he means by the word life. It is my opinion that the larger part is builded upon the unreality by the strength of which the reality becomes
intensified when we sing of the beauty of night, that is to glorify, through the attitude of reverse, in the way of silence, the vigour and wonder of the but there day. Poetry should be meaningful is no world like that of poetry, in which the word " " so often baffles, bewilders, disapmeaning points us. I have seen enough examples of poems which appealed to me as meaningful and impressed another as hopelessly meaningless. I deem it one of the literary fortunes, a happy happening, but not an achievement, that till quite recently our Japanese poetry was never
it annoyed, fatigued, tormented by criticism left perfectly at liberty to pursue its own free course and satisfy its old sweet will. The
literary part of criticism could find a congenial ground in Japan might make one venture to explain it from the point of our being whimsical, not philosophical emoI have often thought tional, not intellectual. that this mental lack might be attributed to the inconsistency of climate and sceneries, the general frailty and contradictions in our way of living. What I am thankful for is that it has never degenerated into mere literature when the Western
phenomenon that the
poetry is in the hand, so to say, of men of letters, the greatest danger will be found in the fact that it is true they are often the prey of publication that the Western poets, minor or major, or what not, have had always the thought of pr hi ting from early date till to-day. I know that at least in Japan the best poetry was produced in the age when publication was most difficult I dare say that the modern opening of the pages for poets in the press, and the easy publication of their work in independent books, both in the West and the East, would never be the right way for the I read somewhere real encouragement of poetry. that a certain distinguished European actress declared that the true salvation of the stage should start with the destruction of all the I should like to say welltheatres in existence same in the thing nigh regard to the real revival Let the poets forget for once and all of poetry. about publication, and let them live in poetry as the true poets of old days used to live. Indeed, to live in poetry is first and last. When one talks on the union of poetry and life, I am sure that so it should be in action and practice, not
only in print. I have seen so many poets who only live between the covers and die when the ink fades away. I often open the pages of Hokku poems by
Basho Matsuo and
of fifty years.
gained moral strength from his complete rejection
SEISHIN OR PURE POVERTY
worldly luxuries. He lived with and in poverty, to use the Japanese phrase, aeishin or pure poverty, by whose blessing his singleminded devotion was well rewarded of course it was the age when material poverty was not a particular inconvenience, as to-day. I read somewhere in his life that he declined in the course of his pilgrimage to accept three ryo (equivalent to seven or eight pounds in the present reckoning), the parting gift by his students, as he was afraid his mind would be disturbed by the thought that his sudden wealth might become an attraction for a thief oh, what a difference from the modern who call for a better payment He had poets one of his poetical students at Kaga, by the name of Hokushi, who sent him the following Hokku poem when his house was burned down
; ; !
" It has burned down
the flowers in their falling
The master Basho wrote to Hokushi, after speaking the words of condolence, that Kyorai and Joshi (his disciples), too, had been struck " with admiration by the poem beginning It " There has burned down," and he continued was in ancient time a poet who paid his own life I do not think that you as the price of a poem. will take your loss too much to heart when you get such a poem." When Basho said the above, I believe that his admiration for Hokushi was
although it is slight in fact." lures t one into the presence of tree and hill blondest with the body of Nature old . I love and understand her more truly through thee . Oh magic of meditation. Nature with the human shadow and song. to make himself art itself. because he is able more often to understand Nature better through the very reason of It is his his not being a part of Nature itself. And how does he attain his own aim ? Is it by the true conception of Taoism. of whose founder. when his own mind could keep serene like the falling flowers. soar out of Nature and still not ever to greatness to forget her in one word. With that action as a background. Language for which secret has no power Oh vastness of the soul of night and death. I should say. bursts into a sudden light and dignity. That is the real poetry in action. witchery of silence. Indeed the main question is what is the real poetry of action for which silence is the language ? To say the real poet is a part of Nature does no justice. his poem. With thee she seems ! . so near and sure to me. Dharuma.28 JAPANESE POETRY more on account of his attitude toward life's calamity than for the Hokku poem itself. . I wrote once as follows ? : "Thou Thou List. of the Great Infinite or Transition ? is it through the Zennism. Hokushi did not study poetry in vain. while seeing his house burn to ashes. the doctrine of Cosmic change or Mood of the UniOr verse. Where time and pains cease to exist.
OUR OLD TEA-MASTERS
The main concern
is how to regulate and arrange Nature before arranging and regulating Nature, you have to regulate and arrange your own life. The thoughts of life and death, let me say, do let me live in the mighty not approach me of the Eternal serenity By the virtue of death let us welitself, life grows really meaningful come death like great Rikiu who, being forced to harakiri by his master's suspicion, drank the " " last tea of Rikiu with his beloved disciples, and passed into the sweet Unknown with a smile and song on his face for the very turn of the page. When I think on my ideal poet, I always think about our old Japanese tea-masters who were the
true poets, as I said before, of the true action it was their special art to select and simplify Nature, again to make her concentrate and emphasise herself according to their own thought
and fancy. Let me tell you one story which impresses me still as quite a poetical revelation as when I heard it first. Three or four tea-masters, the aestheticists of
headed by famous Rikiu, were
once invited by Kwanpaku Hidetsugu, a feudal lord of the sixteenth century, to his early morning tea the month was April, the day the twentieth, whose yearning mind was yet struggling to shake off the gray-haired winter's despotism. The dark breezes, like evil spirits who feared the approach of sunlight, were huddling around under
within, Hidetsugu's tea-house And the silence was comthen it was found that its old rhythm plete (" Oh, what a melody ") was now and then broken, no, emphasised, by the silver voice of the No one among the guests boiling tea-kettle. ever spoke, as the human tongue was thought to be out of place. The host, Kwanpaku Hidetsugu, was slow to appear on the scene what stepped in most informally, with no heralding, was the Ariake no Tsuki, the faint shadow of the falling moon at early dawn, who came a thousand miles, through the perplexity of a thousand leaves, just enough to light a little hanging by the tokonoma, the shikishi paper tablet on which the following Uta poem was written " Where a cuckoo a-singing swayed,
the eaves of there was no
alas, to see
The Ariake no Tsuki only remaining."
All the guests were taken at once with admiration of the poem and the art of the calligrapher, famous Teika, who wrote it, and then of the art of the host, this feudal lord, whose aesthetic mind was minute and most fastidious in creating a
and they soon agreed, the tea-party was especially held to introduce the poem or the calligrapher's art to them. And I should like to know where is a sweeter, more beautiful way than that to introduce the poem or picture to others again,
THE GARDEN PATH
I should like to
know where is a more beautiful, sweeter way than that to see or read the picture or poem. Great is the art of those old tea-masters who were the real poets of action. There is the garden path called roji, so to say, the passage into self-illumination, leading from the without to the within, that is to say, the tea-house under the world- wearied grayness of age-unknown trees, by the solitary granite lanterns, solitary like a saint or a philosopher with the beacon light in heart it is here that you have i^o forget the tumultuous seas of the world on which you must
and play at moral equilibrium, and slowly enter into the teaism or the joy of aestheticism. Now I should like to know if our lives are not one long roji where, if you are wiser, you will attempt to create the effects or atmosphere of serenity or poetry by the mystery of silence. There are many great tea-masters who have left us words of suggestion how to beguile and lead our minds from the dusts and ruin of life into the real roji mood that is the blessing of shadowy dreams and mellow, sweet unconsciousness of soul's freedom I agree at once with Rikiu who found his own secret in the following old song 5
" I turned my face not to see Flowers or leaves "Tis the autumn eve
falling light : solitary the cottage stand*
the highest of all poetry ! This same Rikiu pleases my mind once told by his left us another story which greatly. . This little story always makes me pause and think." Rikiu cried almost mad and watering are not true cleaning. Rikiu exclaimed again .32 JAPANESE POETRY ! Oh. obeyed. . "Try again. was father to sweep or clean the garden path as Rikiu. and decorate the ground with the gold brocade. Indeed." Rikiu exclaimed in satisfaction. step into the sanctuary or idealism by the twilight of loneliness. vastness of solitariness." He shook the maple-trees to make the leaves fall. Shoan again swept the ground and again washed the stones with water. like that Rikiu. " This is the real way of cleaning. I will show you what is to be done with the garden path. doubtless expected some guest on that day Shoan finished in due course his work of sweeping and washing the steppingstones with water. Shoan." His son. : Try once more. blessing of silence Let me. often the truest. though he did not really understand what his father meant. and once more swept the ground and once more washed the stepping-stones with water. the greatest aestheticist with the tea-bowl. death to truly live let me be silent to truly sing. the approach to the subject through the reverse side is more Let me learn of interesting. " ." Rikiu commanded when he had seen what he had done. " You " sweeping stupid fool. his son.
standing.n THE JAPANESE HOKKU POETRY WALTER PATER. in part. in one of his much-admired of Oiorgione." he adds. studies. represents art as continually struggling after the law or principle of music. . toward a condition which music The School alone completely realises. on a certain suppression or vagueness of mere subjects. hence is the highest and most complete form of " the very perfection and. "lyrical poetry. poetry of such poetry often appears to depend." I should like to develop Pater's literary ideal a little further through Lao Tze's canon of spiritual anarchism (it's nothing so strange to speak sometimes the names of this ancient Chinese sage and the modern English critic side by side) is it not that to mean nothing means all things again... . everything 3 ? Lao Tze says 33 " j Assert non-asser- . not to sing at all means to sing ." he " approaches nearest to that condition. . so that the meaning reaches us through ways not distinctly traceable by the underthinks.
. I do never mean that the Hokku poems are poetry in the general Western underbut the Japanese mind gets the effect standing before perceiving the fact of their brevity. I have a word which is much used carelessly in the West. loss of the birthright of . never a the real significance will only be accomplished consummate moment when the end and means are least noticeable. the tiniest poems of the world. to the pages of the Japanese seventeen-syllable Hokku poems.34 THE JAPANESE HOKKU POETRY " Practise non-practice. sensibility resounding to their single note. " let me here add one more line : Express in non-expression." To attach too closely to the tion. its lyrical . if you are able to read the space between the lines. where the sunlight falls on the laughter of woods and waters. subject matter in literary expression way to complete the real saturation infinite is . that is the word of I have an art that is the art of suggestion. suggestion. if you are given a right sort of artistic susceptibility. as if the calm bosom of river water to the song of a One of the English critics exclaims from bird. I will point the way. but whose true meaning is only seldom understood. . where the birds sing by the flowers again I will point. . Taste non-taste . at such a it is the partial being in perfect collocation each that gains an artistic triumph. What suggestion ? you might ask. and the subject and expression never fluctuate from each other.
in the wine of a mood. on hearing the ." And even from the narrow scientific understanding of the term they are musical. whose birth. to take one at random. 35 " That is valuable enthusiasm over Hokku as a than It is a rather a talisman as picture. because what they aim at and practise is the evocation of mood or psychological intensity. following Hokku poem : " Osoki hi no Tsumorite toki kana. they attain to a condition. according to the mythological assumption. as I once . not the physical explanation." . as they are the first seventeen syllables out of the euphonic thirty-one-syllable Uta poem. wrote : " A creation of surprise (let Dancing gold on the wire me say ao) of impulse. nor in themselves to be thought of as a drink. I do not see why we cannot call them musical when we call the single note of a bird musical indeed. which music alone completely realises." That magic of the Hokku poems is the real essence of lyrical poetry even of the highest order. was in the same time when heaven and earth were created a reader who knows no Japanese will find his ears softened. and they are. but there is a kind of magic in the wine in which they are dissolved. as Pater remarked. to be dissolved pearl Pearls are not wine.THE EVOCATION OF MOOD his .
gallant.) seen somewhere a humorous Japanese sketch in which a fantastic young prince wearing a hunting dress of potato leaves (why. he is a masquerading fox see his tail. and having his hair dressed with two or three wheat-straws after an old fashion. rich. perhaps at Kyoto. which assumes the place of a back-sword). Buson Yosano (1716-1783) " Kindachi ni Kitsune bake tari Yoi no Haru. is lightly drawn under the new moon of a spring eve . a wistfulness and delicacy not to be met with in the general run of English poetry. . whose soul is that of poetry. has such charm to make the mind of a fox beautifully unbalanced. Buson's love of an irresistibly pretty gesticulation of life and nature lets him excel in such a subject as a spring night. tiny star carrying the whole large sky at its back.36 THE JAPANESE HOKKU POETRY : Or again in the following by the same author. with a . 1 " Kindachi ni Kitsune bake tari Yoi no Haru. a masquerading fox goea this spring eve." 1 Such brevity of poetical form might be well compared with an eight-coloured butterfly or a white dew upon summer grasses again. misty. I mean that the readers also should be those living in an equally high such readers' minds will poetical atmosphere certainly respond to the wistfulness and delicacy of the Hokku. You must have ." (Prince young. . the evening in Japan's April or May. When I say that the HoJcku poet's chief aim is to impress the readers with the high atmosphere in which he is living.
: in evidence . of Nature and the : of flowers life of man. moon. It's the single touch of their imagination to get the embodiment of a poet or a flower : To be a poet is to be a flower. To be the dancer is to make the singer sing. between the beauty and the beauty of love. sing of flowers and birds to make humanity more intensive it was from the sense of mystical affinity between the life when our Japanese poets go . the real creator of the seventeen-syllable form of poetry.FRIENDS OF WINDS AND MOON 37 I admit that they will appear first. to the ears of Adam and Eve through the valley and trees. the most famous Hokku poet of the seventeenth century. spent the . sings of whatever his fancy or whim finds fair and striking. But I should like to ask what poet is not primitive in heart when he is true. at once. You may think it a pantheism if you will. in fact. I think it is quite a happy epithet to call the poets the friends of winds and . to Nature to make life more meaningful. The real poet in the Japanese understanding is primitive. let me say. as primitive are the moon and flowers the voice of a wind we hear to-day is the same voice which echoed. to you to be the vagrant utterances of a primitive man who. that I wrote as follows " It's accident to exist as A mere twist of evolution but from the same force I see a flower or a poet ." in no form them but only beauty Basho. uneducated.
: could not forget Nature even at the final death moment when he wrote a Hokku poem saying " Lying ill on journey. Grant did about war. of Whitman the above : : : man denying the so-called " literature " (ac- cidentally laughing. affinity of life tion of himself with the trees and Nature. But my feet are eternally gone. " for this Basho (" Basho is his nom de plume. I am an openI want to get out. scorning. fly. swim I am eager for feet again. pilgrimage. travelling." I read somewhere of Whit- The thought ." Basho makes me think of Walt poem of Basho 's recalls to my mind Whitman's pathos of his last years " I am an open-air man winged. was that of his ephemeral life) was never searching after life's selfish joy it was a holy service itself. Ah. He hated war. meaning banana-leaves whose flexibility against winds and autumn. or to use a better word. for the true realisation of the .38 THE JAPANESE HOKKU POETRY best part of his life of fifty years in travelling . I hate . . my dreams Run about the ruin of fields. jeering at his " I feel about literature what contemporaries). again South and North. he imagined. the sacred identificahe and flowers . water man aquatic. as if a prayer-making under the silence of a temple is there a more holy temple than the bosom of Nature ? He travelled East and West.
from the too great excess of his love. ance or the utterance of a single verse that " moth light playing utterance should be like a on reality's dusk. now . It is the word of exclamation its brevity is strength of his love. Hokku means literally a single utter. the fact of his spending the greater part of his life. as a minister of a pulpit loves other ministers it is a means to an because they are ministers I never attribute end. I am not a literary West Pointer j I do not love a literary man as a literary man. as a web. in the air of perfume. as his were the days when politeness of language was inculcated. moment." Basho always : : spoke from the same reason that there was no other poetry except the poetry of the heart he never thought literature or so-called literature to be connected with his own poetry.literature. that is all there is to it any other significance to it." the best fellows have few chances Although Basho never expressed his hatred of city life in such a bold emphasis of words as Whitman." swinging soft in music of a . . really set in of escape. He remarks somewhere " New York gives the he is never literary man a touch of sorrow quite the same human being after New York has j . because it was a single noted adoration or exclamation offhand at the almost dangerous moment when his love of Nature suddenly turned to hatred . Now again to return to Whitman." or " an art hung.
" Osoki hi no Tsumorite toki Mukashi kana. will give the most interesting example literary ideal of the West which seeks its salvation in escape from the so-called literary.of a horse by a whispering then the fallen petals in deep sigh stream. ." of life . I will call Landor familiar face a Hokku poet when he wrote the following " I -warmed both hands before the fire It sinks. distant : " ! . Alas. to discover a Hokku touch in English poetry in my casual reading of my beloved poet's pages . literary mind of Hokku love often finds to encourage the modern My itself highly pleased. if intelligently translated into English (indeed that is an almost impossible . as is if when a somewhat disclosed out of the crowd under a strange flash of light. on the sleepy back literary feat to accomplish). past far-away. . and I am ready to depart. is proof enough that he regarded a city life as fatal to his poetry he was. gathering. as I mentioned before. seeing with country rustics." which might be translated as follows " Slow-passing days Gathered. a good exemplar to teach us how to escape the burden of life and again the Hokku poems. This poetical atmosphere is the atmosphere in which Buson wrote. with Whitman.
are paralysed.PATMORE AND CHIYO the 41 Although the poet simply appears to recollect past (making objectivity in poetical expression reveal his subjectivity clearer through the virtue of the poem's being a good Hokku}. however small. seen accidentally. a little thing really worthy of a place in any Greek Anthology " The hunter of dragonflies. I can point out sometimes a Hokku effect of poetry even from the works of Tennyson and Browning it is not too much to say that many of Wordsworth's poems could be successfully turned as series of Hokku poems. the meaning that he is ready to depart when fate calls upon him will be well understood by those whose spiritual endowment is rich enough to read the part of silence. when I read Chiyo's lamentation over her dead boy. will be relet Now me . trembles in reading "The Toys." with a Hokku poem by Basho. Unknown Eros. as if." Lafcadio Hearn was wont to " when all the energies repeat in his class-room. " In moments of intense sorrow or grief. any new or strange thing." from Coventry Patmore's The . I To-day. My humanity always thrills. The Woodspurge. how far away " May he have gone contrast one of the well-known " poems by Rossetti. all the mental faculties being stricken into inaction.
he might have taken notice of some forgotten flower with its peculiarity by his feet." : membered " Rossetti has the following From perfect grief there need Wisdom or even memory : not be One thing then learnt remains to me. the time I The fall into the inn. The woodspurge has a cup of three. perhaps facing the open garden where the evening silence already had begun to tensified. wistaria flowers. they are only seventeen syllables). (remember. the lone poet on a certain forgotten highway. When know their I say the best Hokku poems do never own limitations. that is because they are of the most essential of all the essential languages. which is inwardly extensive and out- . steal. therefore in- through the physical lassitude resulting from the whole day's walk if Basho had been a man of more specialised mind." Our Japanese HoTcku master. found the beauty of the wistaria flowers most strikingly appealing to his poetic mind now simplified.42 THE JAPANESE HOKKU POETRY for all the rest of one's life. in the modern sense. ." And Basho's poem to which I invite your attention has the following : " Being tired. when he rested himself on the bamboo porch of a country inn. Ah.
of course. : . ." It was the Chinese sage's greatness to interpret. : " A birth of genius. there is no strict boundary between the domains generally called . As the so-called literary expression is a secondary matter in the realm of poetry. you might say. . As in any poem of any other country." : They are the voice of spontaneity which makes an unexpected assault upon Poetry's summit the best expression for it would be. . When I measure our Japanese poetical truth by the said spontaneity. 43 wardly vague a severe restraint imposed on one side will be well balanced by the large freedom on the other. psychologically God by the single word of spontaneity. thou art phenomenon but not achievement. suggestion or hint of its eccentricity or emphasis. Accident inevitable song. Passion indefinable. my mind dwells on the best Hokku poems as the songs " with no word. by that truth we Japanese mean again by that Nature the order of " Man takes his spontaneity." on which I wrote as follows . not tyrannised by form. A Ascension of creative life. the Japanese poet's work also rests on the belief that poetry should express truth in its own way Nature .THE VOICE OF SPONTANEITY . Lao Tze says law from the earth the Earth its law from Heaven Heaven its law from Tao but the law of Tao in its own spontaneity.
the Hokku poems are. It is the aim of this Japanese poetry that each line of the poem should appeal to the reader's perhaps with the unconnected words. our Japanese might wrongly exertion. in English poetry. .44 THE JAPANESE HOKKU POETRY and objective . unlike the majority of English poems. but it casts a light on the poetical position in which the writer stands although the phrase be taken hi the West. poetical unintelligibility is certainly better than the imbecility or vulgarity of which examples abound. that when such poetical method is carried to the but extreme. poetry. the expression of the moods or forces of the writer's poetical and their aim. is hardly connected with the thing or matter actually stated. those poems are again by turns quite subjective through the great virtue of the writers having the fullest identification with the matter written on. . As I said before. is . . touching and again kindling on the there is ample reason to particular association say that our poetry is really searching for a far more elusive effect than the general English consciousness. permit me to say. if aim they have. . You might subjective such collation poetical trespassing but it the very point whence the Japanese poetry that freedom makes us gains unusual freedom I admit join at once with the soul of Nature. while some Hokku to be poems appear objective. there will result unintelligibility call .
to begin with. as in the case of some work of William Blake. their personal interest almost as much as that of the writers themselves. creators of poems which in fact are not their own work. the water sound ! ") I should like. when with no reader to cooperate when I say that the readers of Japanese when . poetry. to ask the Western readers what impression they would ever have ." (" The A old pond frog leapt into 1 Liat. silent. list. Therefore in our poetry the readers assume an equally responsible place . And again the Hokku poem is a bell helpless. it may not mean anything for some people. Their work is like a silent bell of a Buddhist temple . I should say. " Furu ike ya Kawazu tobikorau Mizu no oto. I count. should be born like a poet. if they like. all. just as if one with a bell-hammer did create the bell We have one very famous hi the real sense. and they can become. v . Hokku in the following . But the like that bell which has no voice at bell rings out. particularly this Hokku poem. there is a person who strikes it and what voice the bell should have will depend on the other. are the poets of attitude who depend so much on the intelligent sympathy of their readers. in golden voice.THE POETS OF ATTITUDE 46 poets at their best.
But when the Japanese mind turns it into high poetry (it is said that Basho the author instantly awoke to a knowledge of the true road his own poetry should tread with this frog poem it has been regarded in some quarters as a thing almost sacred although its dignity is a little fallen of late). the thought of a . But a mind of philosophical turn." . Basho is supposed to awaken into enlightenment now when he heard the voice bursting out of voicelessness. it is because it draws at once a picture of an autumnal desolation reigning on an ancient temple pond whose world-old silence is now broken frog is . not merely a lover of description. and the conception that life and death were of condition was deepened into faith. : " Katamari ni Muchiutsu no aruji kaixa. by a leaping frog.46 THE JAPANESE HOKKU POETRY . true to say that nobody but the author himself will ever know the real meaning of the poem which is the reason I say that each reader can become a creator of the poem by his own understanding as if he had written it himself. would please to interpret it through the so-called mysticism of the Zen sect Buddhism. from their reading of the above I will never be surprised if it may sound to them to be merely a musician's alphabet besides. Take the following poem by Buson mere change is It . even absurd for a poetical subject.
who beats a lump of clay playfully while walking lazily. how cool The sound of the bell That leaves the bell itself. the master of the plum-orchard. .BUSON AND BROWNING (" 47 The lump of clay beats with a stick. And go again to the lines of great (" And day's at the ." Do you still call the above Hokku nonsense Take one more poem by Buson in the following " ? : Suzushisa ya Kanewo hanaruru Kaneno koyo.") little amplification would perhaps help understanding the beauty of the above poem but if your sensitive ears can differentiate the sounds of a bell in the daytime and during the Some in ." as in Robert Browning's song in Pippa perhaps Passes). who will wonder where in the world poetry will come in from a piece of clay beaten by a stick.") He There might be many people." (" Oh. He. Hokku poem here we have a scene of some old retired master of a plum-orchard now in a stroll . morn morning's at seven. I believe. Browning : " God's in His Heaven All's right with the world. But be This is quite an excellent patient. my friends.
between the eve And the dawn. and bids good-bye. leaves the wooden bell-hammer. . with the finest feeling. I am sure your mind will become at once cooler with the sound of a bell which. I would understand it to be the bell of very early Summer morning." (" The night of the Spring. your bodily composure making your ears doubly susceptible to any sound. till a faint rosy tinge crowns the mountain's crest." Such is the and whiter." to use Aston's translation.48 THE JAPANESE HOKKU POETRY night it is certainly futile to dwell on it. " I love to watch the dawn grow gradually white . Although the author never tells when he heard the bell. Oh. And take still one more poem by the same author in the following 3 " Haru no voya Yoi akebono no Sono Nakani.") The old Chinese poets sang on the Spring eve. while slender streaks of purple cloud extend themselves above. prizing it above many thousand pounds in gold. while the Japanese Uta poets of ancient days admired the purple-coloured dawn of Spring in the opening passages of Sei Shonagon's Mdkura Zoshi or Pillow Sketches we have the following g "In Spring. hour. when the whole world and life if you awake at such an are in perfect silence .
") With due myself much 4 respect to these translators. : " Asagawo ni Tsurube torarete Moral mizu. Buson's Hokku. . since it lies between those two beautiful things. 49 Now Buson is pleased to introduce the night of the Spring which should be beautiful without questioning. bucket handle round." (" The morning-glory Her leaves and bells has bound My ' I could not break the Of these soft hands. I ask the English mind must spend so ink while we Japanese are well satisfied why with the following . How can I break its beauty's dainty spell T I beg for water from a neighbour's well.THE ENGLISH TRANSLATION beauty of a Spring dawn. for I come bereft.' (" All ") round the rope a morning glory clings . and where the strength or weakness of the English mind lies in poetical writing take the following Hokku with the translation poem by Edwin Arnold and Miss Walsh . Let me some water. because I learn from them the point of the Western choice of the subjects. the eve and and we are thrice glad with this the dawn . bands The bucket and the well to her left. I have quite an interest in the pages of English translation or free rendering of our Japanese poetry.
hardly changes or procreates itself the ." Although my understanding of that word is not necessarily limited to the thought of pointed saying. water to beg the morning-glory " ! Is it not the exact case as when the Western fountain-pen attempts to copy a Japanese picture drawn with bamboo brush and incensed Indian ink on a rice paper. . certainly not high ordered. Take another example to show in what direction the English poetical mind pleases to turn i "I thought I saw the fallen leavea Returning to their branches Alas. as some Western students delight to understand HoJcku poems. as if a tired swimmer with a life-belt." : real poetry is in the above. like that of a summer cloud. by the word "epigram. I may not be much mistaken to compare the word with a still almost dead pond where thought or fancy. nay the water. What . fancy of a vignettist it might pass as fitting specimen if we understand HoTcku poems. is often a passport into the sky of the higher art of Japan ? When the English poet must cling to such an exactitude. a except pretty.50 THE JAPANESE HOKKU POETRY " The well-bucket takon away By Alas. in which formlessness. let me dare say. I have only to wonder at the general difference between East and West in the matter of poetry. butterflies were they. I wonder.
which." But you must know that such language can only apply to the very best Hokkus. when introduced with sympathy rather than mere intelligence. most . as I said before. shines. or under maple-leaves of red. which. are a running living water of poetry where you can reflect (Thereyourself to find your own identification. at least in my mind. then amethyst-blue.) It is. again ruby-red. in search of an escape from the so-called literature and these very best Hokku poems cannot be.MAGIC OP POTENTIAL SPEECH real 51 Hokkus. not the thread itself. as I " wrote already somewhere. glitters. Western writers or poets. using Arthur Ransome's phrase. As there are indeed a. 1 . through their magic of potential speech. will serve. potential effect. beauty of our seventeen-syllable poem. like a dew upon lotusleaves of green. perhaps not more than two hundred and fifty in number from all works written in the last three hundred years. let me say. more than half a thousand. and sparkles now pearlwhite. or. fore the best Hokku poem is least translatable in English or perhaps in any language. though it is nothing but a trifling drop of water. is the . the modern . . swaying among the branches of a tree like an often invisible ghost in the ah on the perfect balance that sway indeed. according to the time of day and situation better still to say this Hokku is like a spiderthread laden with the white summer dews. in my opinion. nay.
I believe. the Shofu or which he established. who. mannerism. cried out for the so-called poetical revival of the Tenmei period.prodigious number of productions. It goes without saying that where was a great master was a great Hokku poem which never makes us notice its limitation of form. my estimate will show. There was no more popular poetry once than this Hokku form. from the point of intricacy. but rather impresses us by the freedom . under the influence of Teitoku. has been irrevocably broken." are certainly not better than the butterfly poem quoted above is . we might say. and Soin Nishiyama. Teishitsu. now putting aside the brush for the picture. and affectation. as he was an eminent artist of his own days. when our insularity. and still popular it is even to-day. poetical or otherwise. the Hokku poems produced in the time before great Basho's appearance (1644-1694). when. became soon and it was Buson again sadly degenerated Yosano. with the power of faith and prayer. In fact. the school of art for art's sake. although Basho and his disciples said that this Basho had three thousand (it disciples or followers hi his life's days) rescued poetry from the hands of such a school of artistic " The School of Righteous vulgarity. Wind " . was finally formed under the name of Danrin or " Forest of Consultation. that even a dozen good Hokkus in one's whole life would not be regarded as a bad crop.
Eliminate either. called like Arthur Ransome says somewhere in his paper " " " Kinetic and Potential Speech It is : a butterfly that has visited flowers and scatters their scent in its flight." But you must know that the part of kinetic speech is left quite unwritten in the Hokku poems. result . and the : is no longer poetry. present aim to follow after their historical record. it is the readers who make the Hokku's imperfection a perfection of art. since the Grand Restoration." Such language applies to the Hokku poems at their best. What I hope to do at this moment is to point out to you the very value of the Japanese poetry of this peculiar form. I agree with Ransome in saying " is made Poetry by a combination of kinetic with potential speech. a few bold attempts at a Hokku revival. and make the whole thing at once complete. and that kinetic language in your mind should combine its force with the potential speech of the poem itself. There have been. notably that of the late Shiki Masaoka but it is not my sea-crossing wind blown . Indeed.HOKKU POEMS AT THEIR BEST through mystery of its 53 chosen language as if a in from a little window. The scent and the fluttering of its bloom-laden wings are more important than the direction or speed of its flying.
because it is often mistaken for the pessimism which is apology at best. or Umewaka. of Tokyo. In emphasising the independence of the Japanese No drama. or Hosho. though it may not necessarily mislead you. It is beautiful to see them. not more than three hundred in number for each performance is that not a large enough audience ? are all of them No actors themselves. like fully flowed water blessed by sunlight. applied to the dramatic art. It is not too much to say that the audience. I have in mind the special audience it created with the patience of centuries. or Yamashina. in the appreciation which 54 . may mystify you.Ill NO: THE JAPANESE PLAY OF SILENCE THE word dignity. When I say that it has no need to wait on its audience. or Kudan. I have in my mind the fact that it was that very audience which originated and perfected it as we see it to-day on the stage of Kanze.
" It is an oasis in the Japanese human desert of modern life. and gain the thought that artistic Japan is not wholly lost and I feel there .DEDICATED TO POETRY AND SONG 55 is realised through silence. where the actors and audience go straight into the heart of prayer in creating the most intense atmosphere of grayness. this No (is that not enough characters. this little hall of the No play. again I ask. its highest reach seen in their motionlessness of posture. to make poetry move ?) find their secret of fire or passion where the audience lose themselves. where I often spend the whole day. as if a cicada whose ghost-voice curses the present " civilisation. when on the stage. with profile to the audience. the most suggestive colour in all Japanese art. This No house is a sacred hall dedicated to poetry and song. with their backs to the wooden end wall at the back of the stage. the thrill of invocation ages old. which is the twilight soared out of time and place it is a divine sanctuary where the vexation of the outer world and the realism of modern life leave to follow. and the musicians. as it is the simplest affair. . though it may sound arbitrary to say real actors on the stage it. take their own proper places. as the performance begins usually as early as nine o'clock in the morning. a flute and two tambourines. . It is true. and the flute sends out. as the beginning of the performance. the eight persons of the chorus in two rows. that the not more than three in one play.
when I first entered Hosho's No house some ten years ago. by the toss of Western life of quite many years. who was a great appreciator. When we feel the beauty of the monotony of the No drama that is gained realising by the sacrifice of variety. It was the month of October. seeing right before me the great ghost of the Past and Eternity. perhaps is greater. whose gray heart was in perfect accord with this No performance. which was then roughened. lords or barons or what not. You know well enough there is a great deal of " " cant in the term of appreciative audience modern usage in theatrical reviews or papers. with birds and love flung away. written on the wooden . because the Present slips away like a mouse chased by sunlight. I is of appreciation just started. I smiled to my friend. will find their own lives vitalised with the sense of power in Japanese weariness. when I noticed the " honourable names " of those occupants. When we must spend two or three years in how many others fail in becoming No appreciators. playfully but none the less delightedly.56 NO : JAPANESE PLAY OF SILENCE happiness and sorrow rhythmically commingled. think that our work I cannot forget the impression carved on my mind. where appreciation is not less. with maple-leaves and passion-flowers fallen. stiffened. than the acting itself. a human feeling already joined with deathlessness. it means that those elected in this particular art.
since the theory of the non-existence of space to the enlightened has much meaning ? When I saw the people here in the hall move in and out of the boxes. even those of the younger ladies who put aside their wild whims to satisfy and not to break the quiet atmosphere of the No house and I was surprised at the general quietude that overflowed from the hearts of The audience make me think artistic sensibility. was struck by the sight of the dresses in quieter shade of the lady audience. with the tea-room where. may sound too elaborate or even improbable. of the people in the tea-room or Sukiya for a ceremonial sip of tea. wrapped in silence and what difference is there between the grayness three hundred people in the hall. which was familiar with the general theatre-goers of other houses created by advertisements.THE NON-EXISTENCE OF SPACE tablets stuck felt 57 on each box. without spoken words. But . My plebeian mind. with a slight bow that was beautiful. I admit. you have to break away from the dust and din of the world. the web-like passways again reminded me of a roji or garden path connecting the portico where the guests wait. to prepare yourself for the aesthetic enjoyment of the tea. common . Such a comparison. like silent birds from twig to twig. . and the five persons that are the usual number to be put in the tea-room. I think I must have even uncomfortable on seeing myself among the select few.
where the painted old pine-tree. as old as the world. and then you have to open the book of the libretto on your knees as the others do. all opened except the wall facing to the audience. If you cannot " " I would connect them with the garden path be glad to suggest to you. When you see the roof. looms as if a symbol of eternity out of the mist (think of the play of Takasago. or the slow fall of the evening moon. with the sight of the chorus taking their own seats on the stage. so small. or the stretch of a sea. the passage of a beginning and ending. even after you have entered your own box. to think for a while of the shadow of summer foliage. you will be impressed by the dignity of existence itself which . along which the No actors move as spectres and make the performance complete. being twenty-five feet square at the largest. There is no other stage like this No stage.58 NO : JAPANESE PLAY OF SILENCE the point I wish to make is that the passways of the No hall mean more than the pathways of the pits of common theatres. the hosts of pine-trees in the shapes of an old man and woman singing deathlessness and peace) the long gallery or bridge on the same level connected with the stage on the right. as a tea-master might when you step through the twilight by the mosscovered granite lantern in the roji. I might say Life and Death. and be ready to enter the artistic world created by your heart gray and cold. as gray as poetry.
now to smile and then to cry with the actors wearing the selfsame mask of painted wood (you know that No .IMAGINATION IS EVERYTHING . so you can build the No stage at any time in your Japanese house. I believe you will be moved. and divine hint again will be on future occasions. particularly . imagination is every- . it will delight minds tired from the burden of the spectacular show in the West indeed. too extraordinary still. the big bell-tower with the paper-made bell hung from a shaking wooden frame. or at any rate quite near. as I have been moved. 59 the Western stage has not but. as you can create the portion called Kakoi or enclosure for the temporary purpose of a tea-gathering by the device of screens. of this No drama. And it is your poetical thank Heaven. and. water. the time may be already at hand. oars. whose archaism might give a how to sift the confusion and to rhyme beauty and life with emphasis. when you might be doubtful of your power of imagination as to imagine the deep valley of Arashiyama of cherrytree fame with a few paper-made cherry-blossom twigs. away. three or four rooms being combined when the most obedient screens slip imagination thing for this No to perfectly fill in the utter lack of stage scenery an<i furniture though there are many occasions. to fancy the ship. when the Western stage will heed the lesson of Japanese simplicity. of course. from a bamboo pole. however. I dare say. to be sure.
virtue of poetry it is and prayer and when I realise from the same old humanity that tears and . but the silent worshippers of the Imperfect will congregate for the holy exercise of ritual of their imagination it is not the whole truth to it is the that No's say dignity to command you to believe in its representation. though you may incline to think otherwise. as for instance in the case where a No character of a lady. . This is the house of fancy where those who can only find strength from the crudity of their five senses have no right to step in. seems to differentiate the most delicate we should thank shades of human sensibility our own imagination which turns the wood to a spirit more alive than you or I. difference being only a little their spring forth. but it is for your poetical mind flatly to object to seeing the superficial . is resented on the stage. I know that the mask is made to reserve its feeling. shade of colour. although that not an exact translation) which. the mystery that the No hall smiles. marvellously enough. or sisters by blood relation.60 is is NO JAPANESE PLAY OF SILENCE s the mask play to speak directly. brothers performs on our human minds will be explained to a great measure. whose voice and posture are not different from a man's. when neither the actors nor the mask-carvers can satisfactorily express their secret. and the actors wonderfully well protect themselves from falling into the bathos of the so-called realism through the .
because the curtain only serves. and developed under the rule of the Ashikaga lords from the early fourteenth century down to the close of the sixteenth century. And what use is the No hall if you cannot drop the curtain in your imagination ? although it may not be so often as in other theatres even at this No hall. 61 and to surrender all criticisms for the sake of appreciation. in my opinion. the melody of the boiling kettle. and saying that the plays themselves are brief I have many reasons to be thankful that the stage has never been troubled with the dropping curtain from the beginning till to-day. you will slowly but surely enter the twilight land of the Unknowable when you are told that both of them were prac. to remind us always that we have to restrain ourselves and not come into too close communication with the actors. and even . like many other artistic expressions. tically formed. through the fragrance of tea. who attempted. great brevity at an almost astonishing cost of human energy. you have sometimes to drop the curtain yourself before the play is finished.THE ASHIKAGA LORDS reality. It goes without . encouraged. the actual expression of the No stage is ever so slight and ephemeral. as we behold it. and the curl of incense. to bar the stage. I have had occasion before to associate the No hall with the tea-room where. the sighs of crickets or shivers of flowers . Indeed. we have gained.
the greatest of all teaWhen masters. the wonderful sacrifice of that simplicity No drama . I think. to invigorate human lives with that simple lesson of simplicity. to leave his name associated with Soyeki or Rikyu. fighter of Japan. that the variety and richness from making the entire I am glad to say ? has fully revived from the temporary oblivion of fifty years ago. the third great lord of the Ashikaga government. the eighth lord who almost completed the drama as we have it to-day. Whenever we think of the No plays. when we need such a lesson in all the aspects of life ? What I ask. it will be clear enough that the No drama must have an equal connection with . I would say that protest is the thing we need most to-day. the mighty propagandist of the tea-ceremonies and the No drama and we must not forget Yoshimasa. . and also with the No actors. and has two or three hundred appreciators at each performance if we treat it as a case of protest. It was the greatness of Hideyoshi Toyotomi.62 #0 : JAPANESE PLAY OF SILENCE succeeded in their attempt. to-day when the complex is replacing the homogeneous. will not seem a mere spiritual And was there ever a time like speculation. our thanks are first turned to Yoshimitsu. the comparison. we remember that the simplicity and archaism of the so-called tea-ceremony grew out of the purism of the Zen monastery or priest hall of meditation. have we earned.
and Buddhistic flowers or trees rising from the rich soil of tradition As literature. . choice. I mean that they are not the creation of one time or one age it is not far wrong to say that they wrote themselves. What a difference advertisement and personal ambition When I say that these plays were born like a mystery from the national impulse and love of literature. the dance. Seami and Otoami for instance. ghost play has no real meaning. are forgotten. it is said by an authority that they are. they are faith. and the general stage management. there is no play among those three hundred plays in existence which has no appearance of a priest whose divine power of meditation or prayer invariably leads the ghost of a warrior or a lady. or they hid their own names by . any more than the main point is to tell to call it a priest play the human tragedy rather than comedy of the old stories and legends seen through the Buddhistic flash of understanding. alas. only responsible for the music.BORN LIKE A MYSTERY . as most of the plays were written by priests or by those people most influenced by Buddhism. are given. as if themselves were from this day of ! . Even when some of their names. 63 Buddhism in fact. as was quite natural in those days. It was the time when nobody asked who wrote them. or a flower. if the plays worthy. The names of the authors. or a tree into To call the No the the blessing of Nirvana. in fact.
To recite lines from the No. in his time. and alterations were made to those already in practice) had become the most important factor of the nation's life. these most proud. in contrast to the common . And most noble. though not in the style of the lines and phrases.64 #0 : JAPANESE PLAY OF SILENCE things apart from the aristocratic writing encouraged by the Kyoto court in the former age. not a false note of atmosphere or feeling they are exquisite and deathless. It was . H This No. . an image. theatre. to the already large repertory. was regarded to be one of a gentleman's accomplishments the No play. most un wasted rhythms of human song and heart-cries. dignified place of so it is to-day. there are no better examples of epic poetry in our Japanese literature than the No plays it is not too much to say that there is not a phrase. held the entertainment. and might be compared with the magnificent dresses of stiff brocade the actors wear as they move along to the deep cadence of music . and to act on the stage if possible. being democratic in sentiment. an incident too much or too little. which are in truth the noblest expression of poetry. already strongly encouraged by the said Hideyoshi (many new pieces were added. . most living. when the time came down to the Tokugawa feudal age.
Not to go to extremes. Feathers statuesque beauty of composition and sentiment. three hundred plays now in exis" The Robe of there is no other like " that gracefully carries the delicate. while she was bathing. is taught in Japan to be the height of cultured manners here we have every Oriental beauty and lamentation in the song of this fairy who could not fly back to the sky i . endurance. but the old man and woman singing the age of golden and happy life." Takait is believed your wedlock will be sealed ' ' .THE ROBE OF FEATHERS . With the singing of a passage from " Takasago." the happy play celebrating constancy. 5 . and was finally given back upon her promise to dance. sago. verdure remains fresh for ages long even among evergreen trees the emblems of unchangeableness exalted is their fame to the end of time the fame of the two pine-trees that have grown old together. 65 it began to assume the thought even sacred most necessary role at a wedding ceremony. is represented by an old man and an old woman busy hi the work of raking up the pine-needles under the The passage says " True it is that pine-trees." What are these two pine-trees ? Who are the old man and woman ? The ghosts of the trees are nothing. . their these pine-trees shed not all their leaves : . Among some tence. health and longevity. even in sadness. It is the play of a fairy whose feather-robe was stolen by a fisherman at Mio's pine-clad shore.
to the poetical thought and fancy even of the As I said. vapours all the air enshroud. It is the essence of the Buddhistic belief. the .66 " NO i JAPANESE PLAY OF SILENCE Vainly Where my And rising veil the glance doth seek the heavenly plain. our conception and it is thus that understanding will be altered they can keep always fresh themselves. however fantastic. " Fie on thee The pledge of mortals may be doubted." She promised that she would dance the dance that makes the Palace of the Moon turn round. modern age. well-known paths from cloud to cloud. any straying ghosts or spirits in Hades were enabled to enter Nirvana it is no wonder that most of the plays have to deal with those That ghost liness appeals ghosts or Buddhism. and would leave her dance behind as a token to mortal men." No is the creation of the age of virtue sutra or the Buddha's holy when. undoubtedly a learned tain Elf priest. Here we have one play called " Yama Uba " or "Moun" the author. However. if her robe were restored to her. . to stay poetical for ever. but in heavenly beings there is no falsehood. Although the No's repertory does not change. because it has no age. . the fisherman doubted lest she might return home to heaven without dancing at all then the fairy said : ! . attempts to express by the play that we are souls much troubled in a maze of transmigra. by name.
with large star-like eyes and fearful snow-white hair. . This little play would certainly make a splendid subject for a . her ghost will disappear with satisfaction when she listens to a sermon from the also a . in no or the Hill in Yama. nay the mountain of Life. . a woman who has earned such a name from her dancing of the Mountain Elf She has lost her circling round the mountain. interesting enter Nirvana on account of her short life of only one morning.HYAKUMA YAMA UBA tion. play. like the said. That mountain is a symbol of life The plot grows intense at the point itself. indeed. disappears over prayer mountains and mountains. as her life's cloud of perplexity is now cleared away. And " " is Morning-Glory play called cannot in the the flower. who. the Holy Buddhist and here she meets the real Elf or Temple Yama Uba. of Shadow. For some long while my mind dwelt on it. and her jealousies that burn on seeing the other flowers who enjoy a longer life. However. 67 Mountain Elf. wishing to write something. it is spends all the dark night circling round the mountain. and the dusts of transmigration are well swept. way Kagero a pilgrimage toward Zenkoji. who demonstrates to her the way how she encircles the mountain. where enters a famous dancer called Hyakuma Yama Uba. The play ends as may be after making her expected of this No play the dancer to the Elf. modern interpretation.
"No. where lies Heaven. " Who the guide in Life's chartless field ? See the black robe of the priest for the changeless love of the is Lord (The robe is black. " Is it October sky the custom here to see " ? it blooming under the pale Villager.68 NO : JAPANESE PLAY OF SILENCE : priest. I have written a dramatic fragment on the subject after my own fashion as follows THE MORNING-GLORY (A DRAMATIC FRAGMENT) Priest. it is none other than the Morning-Glory. Has calmed down the fire and heart of Nature and song It is like a lyric forgotten and unsung Villager. with mercy's depth) I count my rosary. mine to make the suffering souls obedient to Law and Truth. tell me what flower it is. as black night. I count the sins of the world and life My prayer is the evening bell to turn them to rest. My face is ever turned to joy and the West To the West. 'Tis : ." . the flower of Summer's dream and dews ? It is strange to see it now when Autumn's silence . And then regain the song of dissolution and rest. father. It is the first time I have seen it. What is the flower that I see before my eyes ? Is it not the Morning-Glory. the only real place." Villager." Priest. " Father.
a mystery." ." (The It becomes dark ." art thou. misery to be a prey to fire and unrest I am a wandering spirit of discontent from Hades. The lady enters as a waft of autumnal wind. " heart burns in madness and pain Oh. as exist . what moumfulness. What I am but voiceless. I am the spirit of the Morning-Glory. the Life of whiteness and the : ! How my sun . " Who to be a soul dead. After the Life that ascends. ) Lady. lady ? Thou seemest Lady. life . my hatred of dissolution and death " ! Priest. take me thia night as thy guest. companion of water. 69 " See the tremor of the cup of the flower. bareness of beauty that has soared out of Is it a real morning-glory ? Is it not only imagination or pain itself ? I hear in its tremor a certain human speech. and night Here will I sleep and solve the mystery with the power prayer. . whatever name thou bearest. stars. " Father. of Oh. Cursor of Nirvana. words. the first villager goes out. trees. if it fears to Oh. The priest recites the holy night-bell rings. what tragic thrill a priest for whom stones and grasses prepare a nightly ! A bed. Oh. flower. straying soul of unrest. but not dead.THE MORNING-GLORY Priest.
The moon rises. evil ? " " crave for the longer life of the many other flowers That have only to grow with the sun and the day Oh.. shortness of my life that ended before its day began How I long"to feel the joy of life and the sun that was not I : ! mine ! Priest. pray " rest I to hear such words.. live in dissolution and rest. ** Namu. is : of longevity and days are the flowers a hundred years old ? Oh.70 NO : JAPANESE PLAY OF SILENCE Priest. be content. be finished as a song that is Lady or flower. : The Life How shortest life is the sweetest. " Poor child." at once into the (The lady disappears Morning-Qlory. live in death and Nirvana. " : Where no quest sung ! Lady. Make a life out of death and darkness . amida butsu . The mid night bell rings. " Happy am ! Pray. there is no life where is no death Death is nothing but the turn or change of note. Why wanderest thou as a spirit of malice and Lady.) . holy father. The flower withers. " Dear child of dews and summer's impulse. for sad soul that it may return to my Hades and Priest. as is the shortest song to die well means how to live well.
and even stones he exclaimed at the beginning of the establishment of his own Buddhism. the sect " Know that all the sects of the White Lotus in existence are a way to Hell. or an enemy of the land. These are not my words. or a heresy to destroy the nation. to destroy at one stroke the old formulae and conceptions (or. that undaunted spirit of I a Buddhist priest born to a fisher's family in the Awa province in whose belief in the mysterious law of the White Lotus made him proclaim himself a prophet. . imagination the continuous scene of persecutions the priest encountered gibes." When he attempted with the fervent tongue of a propagandist. or the teaching of infernal hosts. And I am the messenger sent by the Worshipful for the teaching of the Real Law. by emphasising the individualistic fire of Buddhistic inspiration 71 . : more true to say.IV THE EARLIEST JAPANESE POETRY USED to linger around the spot at Kamakura marked by a stone commemorating the street preaching of Nichiren. And I would call to my 1222. railings. superstitions). but I found them in the sutra.
with its thought of Nirvana or peaceful haven far beyond where your absorption of the infinite can only be realised through the virtue of death.72 THE EARLIEST JAPANESE POETRY through whose activity he himself. his mind dwelt on the religious freedom born out of the idealism whose real manifestation can only appear through the highest development of the individual life. " Thou burstest from mood Marvel of thy every atom burning in How fully thou livest Passionate lover of sunlight. like sunflowers. of thy existence Mighty sense " ! . : ! life. through the true Buddhism perfectly delivered from the despotism of ignorance or misconception it is not far wrong to say that he alone found the meeting ground of Buddhism and the thoughts of our Japanese ancestors who. It was Nichiren's Activism (with apology to the German more meaningful. Nichiren saw clearly that Japan or Japanese life had been greatly harmed by the pessimistic interpretation of Buddhism. or more meaningful by that meaningful life. was the symbol of the infinite. professor) to make again to make death lines . of thy consciousness. a death that does not recognise individuality. absorption of thy life's memory. the following life . a book of verses. . What Symbol Wonder of youth and pride . most passionately sought after life and sunlight on the sunflower I wrote once in The Pilgrimage. as he declared.
because my chief concern for the present disfigured. will cry for the splendid silent sun " from the beams full-dazzling in mind Nature's gladdened sanctuary worshipping with all his where our ancestors of three thousand years ago loved and lived. and our steadily lost its imagination lives had become hardened moment depend in in poetry whose rejuvenation may some measure on a leader (such a leader as Nichiren in religion) a leader who. who ever wearied of four tongues and wished to dance upon the mountains like a of flame. as it . I leave aside the question of religion. never the thought of death and how our Japanese ancestors hated shadow shadow and death is recorded in the first page of . is and and had slowly but passion. whose theological adventure would certainly please the followers of Eucken it was the effect of the common pessimism of Buddhism or thought of Nirvana. brighter mind (it was almost a Western mind). the Confucian literature. the earliest book of Japanese literature in existence. that our original Japanese mind. for his hopeful. Kojiki or Records of Ancient Matters. indeed quite a Celtic mind.RECORDS OF ANCIENT MATTERS I 73 am thankful to Nichiren. again the thought of birth and eternal life. although his in- was not universal. like that of the young woman in Yeats' Land of Heart's Desire. combined with the morality and ethics fluence . like " Whitman. They had only the thought of life and birth.
how fully thou " livest Our later Japanese spiritual history in literature or what not is more or less the history of quietism or negation in which the great charm and attraction is the thought of Cathay called I myself am pleased to sing on and of death death because it makes life more strong. Japanese pure mind of later age. sometimes. as I said before. following after the modern fashion. but always wounded and tormented by the despotic counsel of Chinese literature and Buddhism. . and more meaningful through its virtue of difference and when I put stress upon the fusion of death with life. But when the Japanese mind of ! . On this book I am going to dwell presently at mind was the and not the Japanese mind true. more beautiful. : greater length. Let me ex" claim as I exclaimed on the sunflower Marvel . doubtless. my mind thinks on the real spiritual freedom which will soon become a perfect idealism like a broader day born from the mixed souls of East and West. conscious or unconscious. when our Japanese many thousand thy every atom burning in life. a seeker of sunlight and life. that is years ago. Go back to the age. therefore the Japanese mind like the sunflower. or upon valuing them equally. refined and polished.D. .74 THE EARLIEST JAPANESE POETRY was actually written or completed in A. the Japanese mind which is the personification of life's activity itself you might call it the individualism. 712.
epicone who fully endorses the so-called loving evolutional philosophy in the Woods of Westermain. ambition. only wastes its energy under incongruities. . or scorned them. or the cultivation of the power of the will. can find enough material for building his songs of tragic life that rude philosophy of Meredith's our forefathers practised unconsciously.YAMATO-TAKE of later lifeless. and confusions of wild cross-currents of East and West. or even when they knew them. when our aspiration or . like children laughing with winds and sun. then the thought of death ceased to have a better. did not think much of them. but many other stories scattered in the first and last volumes) which will surely please a mind of Meredithian cast. Go back to the age when our ancient Japanese did not know death and shadow. They such a self-strengthening mind and will . I mean that of the Japanese. 75 days began to deal with death as a state or something hard and final. . ii Here in the second volume of Records of Ancient Matters we have a story in Yamato-Take (not only that one story. To return to the age of Kojiki is indeed a rare treat in a time like to-day. greater I despise such a death or such influence on life a thought of death. contradictions.
staggered. . To return to Yamato-Take he was a fierce type like Meredith's King Harold . pursued after that bird with their sad songs in heart.76 THE EARLIEST JAPANESE POETRY (indeed the ancient Japanese thought was that greatest sin was the sin of weakness) as the old Norsemen thought but our ancestors hailed. lines. I believe. from the hatred of death and shadow. his great dead spirit turned into a white bird eight fathoms long. from a warmer climate with poetry and love they were from the beginning poets and warriors. Strained he. while the English ballad ends with the following life's ." the story of Yamato-Take does not close with his death. soared up to the skies. saying " : Impeded are our ! loins in the plain. : (The plain thick with bamboo-grasaea) Oh we are only on foot." Again saying " : Impeded are our loins Through the seas. while the princesses and children who had shared equal pains under his conquering banner in the Eastern countries. " Sudden. oh In the seas like herbs as we go ! tottering Grown in a great river-bed. broke Doubled at their feet. as it were a monster oak Split to yield a limb by stress of heat. Not flying through the skies." . and flew away over the seas. because. .
had been again sent away -to conquer the unsubmissive bravoes of the East on " The receiving the Imperial command. he could not disobey his command. woman of many thousand years ago. Princess Oto-Tachibana. . His wife. son of Emperor Keiko already afraid of his wonderful valour and ferocity. : although Yamato-Take clearly knew his father's intention. and Yamato-Take's ship was able to proceed. and beside. So I think that he certainly thinks I shall die quickly. he now sends me off afresh to subdue the wicked people of the East. I am no sooner come up again to the capital than.PRINCESS OTO-TACHIBANA who was 77 This great valiant spirit. already understood something of Meredith's following . if he be weak. He lost his beloved wife. where he began a series of successes with the slaying of the rulers of Sagama." It was in the almost mythological ancient age when even the father. while crossing the sea of Hashiri Midzu. without bestowing on me an army. his love of fighting for fighting's sake made him start with renewed joy toward the East. this Japanese . often happened to suffer the fate of a dove torn by a hawk . for after sending me to smite the wild people of the West. who drowned herself in the waves for the purpose of calming the storm by the sacrifice of her own self it is said that the violent waves at once went down. he said Heavenly Sovereign must be thinking that I should die quickly.
Such was the when you compare it . That till the chasing but of its last vice.78 THE EARLIEST JAPANESE POETRY of : lines. song of this great spirit with the Japanese songs of a later age. Be happy." Then he pulled his tired body to the Moor of Nobo. " he suddenly felt weak and exclaimed Whereas . O Yamato " fences. the most hidden of lands. singing " O Yamato. The flesh was fashioned but for sacrifice. The hills encompassing thee with their How delightful. singing " Thou whose life may be strong. With the bear-oak leaves from Heguri Mount. : my my and very very weary. snug within green hills." Again at the village " of Mike he exclaimed My legs are like three. ! And then he passed away. and from his deep love of his native land. course with a variation of Japanese : morality " lesson writ in red since time first ran hunter hunting down the beast in man . legs are now unable to walk they have become rudder-shaped. Yamato. ! : Adorn thy hah". thou in health. fold crooks. he exclaimed." The A Yamato-Take subdued and pacified all the East now reaching the moor of Yagi on the way home. you will see that our ancestors. my child " last . : heart always felt like flying through the sky.
not of death and tears. not through struggle and pain. divinely possessed. Hereupon the Empress. I will now bestow this land upon thee. the noble Takeuchi. the Heavenly Sovereign played on his lute the Prime Minister. requested the divine orders. The book reads as follows "So when the Heavenly Sovereign. charged him with this instruction and counsel .THE EMPEROR CHUAI 79 even at the moment of death. . to use the modern words. whether it be of mind . was about to smite the land of Kumaso. were never taken. dwelling at the Palace of Kashii in Tsukushi. by the thought of they were the pessimism or sentimentality singers of life and joy. : . or body. . The fact that the sad destruction of life comes most surely through indulgence. ' . is well illustrated in the story of the Emperor Chuai somewhere in the second volume. There is only the great sea. They knew the world was never made for weak body and mind they never exercised pity and they compassion upon any form of weakness believed that the instant that one begins to doubt his own strength. There is a land to the Westward in that land is abundance of treasures dazzling to the eye. from gold and silver downward. What ' : . shall all the hopes pf winning life's prizes be at once overthrown. being in the pine court. no country is to be seen.' Then the Heavenly If one ascend to a Sovereign replied saying high place and look Westward.
" What a splendid subject this for a ballad or poem for a poet of Meredith's class. my Heavenly Sovereign Pray. and sat silent. Then the deities became very angry. who followed after his dead wife. to the Land of Hades. playing no more. dead.' The Heavenly Sovereign slowly drew his lute to him and languidly played on it. alas. saying made are not yet finished making pray come back " Her Augustness the Female. Her Augustness the Female-WhoWhen the male Invites. the noble Takeuchi. ! discuss the matter with the deities of Hades. continue playing thy great august lute. as she had to j . but begged her husband to wait for a little while. And she made him promise not to attempt to . deity entreated her to come back again to the " The lands that I and thou world. it is Empress not a land over which thou oughtest to rule. the Male-Who-Invites. Do thou go only the road to Hades The Prime ' : ' ! Minister. the Heavenly Sovereign was found.' He pushed away his lute. The first note we encounter in opening the pages of this Records of Ancient Matters is our ancestors' conception of death as defilement here we have a story of Izanami or His Augustness .Who-Invites was pleased to consent. said ' : I am ! filled with awe.80 THE EARLIEST JAPANESE POETRY lying deities. and said through the mouth of the Altogether as for this Empire. But when the sound almost immediately became inaudible.
maggots dwelt the Great Thunder^ in her breast the FireThunder. indeed. and she said "If thou doest like this. 6 . in her right hand the Earth Thunder. fell back. while " his wife. this longer mythology goes on to say. he lit a light and went in and looked. : in her head.EIGHT THUNDER DEITIES come shadow. exclaimed Thou hast me to and sent the eight Thunder shame. in her belly the Black Thunder. was rotting with swarming it is written in the book. She was blocked by a huge rock at the Even Pass of Hades which the male deity had placed there for his own protection here these two deities stood opposite to one another. who grew mad. in her left hand the Young Thunder. overawed at the sight. Alas. in her right foot the Couchant Thunder." put Deities with a thousand and five hundred warriors of Hades to pursue him but when they failed to meet him. in her left foot the Rumbling Thunder.WhoInvites came out herself in pursuit. 81 to her while retiring within the palace of She tarried there so long. I will : . one of the end-teeth of this close-toothed comb stuck in the left bunch of his hair. Her Augustness the Female. his wife-deity . thus altogether eight Thunder Deities dwelt His Augustness the Male-Who-Invites. . His August- ness the Male-Who-Invites would not wait any so having taken and broken off. . and Her Augustness the Female-Who-Invites was first to speak. in her private parts the Cleaving Thunder. there.
And then from the bathing of his . the Deity Master of Trouble from his upper garment he put aside." Thus birth ." Then His Augustness the : in one folk of "If thou doest this. . ! . among them the three illustrious children at whose birth His Augustness the Male-Who-Invites was rejoiced. said hideous polluted land I will perform the purification of my person. and so on thus the twelve deities altogether were born from his taking off the things that were on his person. and make the women bear children.82 THE EARLIEST JAPANESE POETRY day strangle to death a thousand of the thy land. when he threw down his girdle. . itself the other fourteen deities into existence. . that. the Deity Master of the Open Mouth from his hat. conquered over death. the Deity Road-Long Space was born thence. Male-Who-Invites replied I will in one day set up a thousand and five hundred parturition houses." Then he went into a plain and by a river near Tachibana in the island of Tsukushi. the land of light over the land of shadow. The great deity who defeated death and persuaded the deities of shadow not to pursue any " How hideous I have come to a more. Suppose a thousand people may each day die but each day a thousand and five hundred people will be born. the Heaven august person came Shining Great August Deity from his left eye. and began to purify and cleanse himself it is written in the book.
it was supposed. were born.LIFE'S ACTIVE SPIRIT 83 right eye. and they inspired their own personalities into the things they created. in our ancient Japanese mind. When these three deities. nothing but the symbol of life's active spirit the great reverence of our forefathers toward the deities or gods was only fierce adoration or praising expression toward the power or strength which overflows from the bosoms of mighty personalities. . them most impossible Japanese names were . Not only from garment or eyes. Japanese mind were human beings. our ancient deities. even from a cough. it is belief that the conception of gods should on the true realisation of life's fire. had such a power or magic to produce anything and everything by their free will. indeed. but from anything or anywhere. from their be based was a deity Therefore. the last ruling the seas. All the phenomena thus exhibited were. the first and second representing the sun and moon. where was the real expression of life there are no men who created so many gods or deities as the old Japanese to . His Augustness Moon-Night Possessor from his and His Brave Swift Impetuous Male Augustness from his nose. . we know that the creation of the world was in good shape. I dare say that it would do justice to class it with the common pantheism or Nature-worship you find in ordinary barbarous tribes when Japanese scholars like Motoori declare that the gods or deities of old .
in its completion it is said that Yasumaro. some parts perhaps omitted. have been changed. in fact. at the very early Mikado's government of the Nara period. cestors. the author. or others added. .84 THE EARLIEST JAPANESE POETRY given. m The date of A." : . names like Ameno-Minaka-Nushi or Takami Musubi or Umashi-Ashikabi-Higoji. 712 was given to Kojiki (Records of Ancient Matters). took it all down from the lips of a certain Hiyedano Are. Since the days of the gods.D. the first written book in Japan. Is the way how a river runs What does never change Since the days of the gods. which of the book. It is not my work to discuss here their value as legends of history my important concern with them is their poetry. a Kataribe or reciter whose official function. the poetry of our Japanese an. during the process of retelling from one reciter to another. was to retell ancient records from his it will be believed that they must memory . that is to say. la the way how love flows. runs through almost every page When I read love-songs diffused : here and there in these three volumes it makes me think of a popular ditty like the following " What does never change.
Being a maiden like a drooping plant. forward he pulls it Here he stands. The night. the jewel-black night will I will then welcome thee." : " The sun Again she sang in the following fashion may hide behind the green hills. And The the bird of the moor. opening sang from within : Then the without " Thine Augustness the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears. crows Oh. stands here. Now has heard in the far-off Koshi Land there is a maiden has heard there is a maiden beauteous Here he stands to truly woo her. . resounds. oh. bird of the yard. But it will soon become a gentle bird . these birds Oh. My heart is now indeed a dotterel. do not deign to die. . Having untied even hia veil. With no Spouse in the Land of the Eight Isles. My heart is just a bird on a bank by the shore . come . the oock. Smile like the glad morning sun and come forth . He pushes baok the plank door shut by the maiden : Now wise. how soon the night dawns Would that I could beat them to siokness and death " : ! ! ! Princess of Nuna-Kaha. Having untied even the cdrd of his sword. So as for thy life. he soon hears the Nuge singing on the green : He hill. Here he goes backward and forward to woo her. the pity that the birds should sing. the pheasant.THE PRINCESS OF NUNA-KAHA 85 One of the early love-songs is found when the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears went forth to woo the Princess of Nuna-Kaha and sang on his arrival at her house as follows : " His Augustnesa the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Speara. the door.
1 take and carefully attire myself In my garments green as a kingfisher . I look at my breast. Thou wilt hang down thy head. like the led birds. ! .arms. Like the birds of the offing. Stretching out. oh. I find they are good. . he sang. . Shall softly pat my breast soft as melting snow . With outstretched legs. My dear Younger sister. And cast them off on the waves of the beach. Patting each other interlaced. The pounded madder sought in the mountain fields Like the birds of the offing. on true jewel. with one hand on the saddle of his horse and one foot . Thine Augustness Though thou say thou wilt not weep. saying : " I take and carefully attire myself In my garments black as the jewels of the moor . Thine Augustness the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears " ! The Chief Empress. I look at my breast. I find these are not good. like the flocking birds. If. in his stirrup. I take and carefully attire myself In my raiment dyed in the sap of the dye-tree. So speak not too lovingly. I flock and depart. got very jealous the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand Spears was greatly distressed when he was about to go from Izumo to the Land of Yamato as he stood attired. If. pillowing us on each other's arms. I am led away and depart. And cast them off on the waves of the beach. I find these too are not good. will we sleep.86 THE EARLIEST JAPANESE POETRY Thine arms white as rope of paper-mulberry bark. Her Augustness the ForHis Augustness ward-Princess. Like the birds of the offing I look at my breast.
" lift Luxuriant liquor. and married her he was put in a snake-house by her angry father when he discovered their love. ! . and drawing anear and offering it to her husband deity. I have no man except thee. pillowing us on each other's arms. Mayest have a wife young like young herbs. alas. Beneath the fluttering of the ornamented fence. Stretching out. Thine arms white as rope of paper-mulberry bark Softly patting my breast soft as melting snow. oh. and again in a house filled with centipedes when he . On all island headlands that thou seest. my Master-of-the Great-Land. With outstretched legs. . sang as follows " : Thine Augustnesa the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand-Spears Thou. Thine Augustnesa. oh. being a man. pray. On every beach headland that thou lookest on But as for me. on true jewel-arms. that is Her Augustness the Forward-Princess. Patting each other interlaced. will we sleep. Beneath the rustling cloth coverlet.THE FORWARD-PRINCESS Like a single eulalia upon the mountain shall indeed rise As the mist of the morning shower. my spouse young like young herbs 87 Thy weeping " ! Then the Empress taking a great liquor cup. I have no spouse except thee. up ! The fact that the ancient Japanese patiently bore any amount of pain for conquering love is illustrated in how His Augustness the Deity-ofEight-Thousand Spears found his Empress. being a woman.
shaking the earth. the most beautiful of all the stories which . and ran away. I think that our old ancestors had here is a quite a developed sense of music story. while he was sleeping. And after many happenings His Augustness the Deity-of-Eight-Thousand Spears grasped the hair of the father of the Princess. and other pieces of wood that remained over from the burning were turned . illustrates their delicacy of feeling. There was in the reign of the Emperor Nintoku . a tall tree on the west bank of the river Tsuki the shadow of this tree. he carried It off his new wife on his back. and tied it fast to the various rafters of the house. is written in the book that when he ran away. The vessel became ruined and useless in time some broken pieces of this old vessel were used as fuel to dry salt. reached to the Island of Ahaji. it crossed Mount Takayasu. When the tree was cut down. and it was called by the name of Karanu. it was made into a vessel which proved to be a very swift-going one. on its being struck by the morning sun.88 THE EARLIEST JAPANESE POETRY was rescued. With this vessel the water of the Island of Ahaji was drawn morning and evening and presented as the great august water. and on being struck by the evening sun. it is said. the heavenly-speaking lute which he also carried on his back brushed against a tree and the beautiful voice of the lute resounded. . and after blocking up the floor of the house with a huge rock.
when. saying : Karanu was burned for salt The part that was left was made listen. struck. " 89 sound beautifully re-echoed Some one . Oh. sang. Like the wet trees standing Hocked on the reefs in the middle of the wave." sounds . In the middle of the Yura Sea.KARANU into a lute. whose seven miles away. it into a lute .
V THE POETS OF PRESENT JAPAN " " conservatism of Japanese often poetry proved to be a cowardice with little claim to wisdom the poets (here I mean chiefly the thirty-one-syllable Uta writers) had been taught it was a dignity to rigidly observe the ancient form and spirit. There was a time 90 . was not readily recognised. their loyalty was more or less a literary superstition. of an etiquette whose formality took the place of life and beauty no sudden change was permitted in their old kingdom. and that modernity is not an emancipation altogether. Uniformity was their special virtue. individuality was regarded by them to be little short of vulTheir poems turned to be the expression garity. or motive. They had to appear at least under a self-denying guise. originated as a test of strength now degenerated to a confession of weakness. The limitation which . any advance in diction. imagery. Though I admit that changes are not always a triumph. And any conscious introduction of foreign elements. THE .
It would be more proper. which. while the younger poets for themselves started a new form of poem called Shintaishi. It is true that the simplicity of our old Uta poets was a source of charm and often surprise. with larger scope it is well-nigh and greatly increased resources reaching already to some achievement. could not be left alone to be ruined. to say that the Uta poets were left undisturbed with full freedom to stick to the original key if they wanted to. but rather than for what they are. meaning the new-styled poem. remarkable. Aston indeed." as W. in fact. They were obliged to make a completely unconditional surrender to the ancient form and thought. and at the same time it was rather tragic for the poets to be forced to keep it up. C. The changing seasons. under any circumstances. and they are " for what they are not. . that was ages ago. wonderful in their cleverly put it . the . and But true sentiment. . The Uta poets had been already for a long time a sort of dilettantes who did no small harm to the development of our Japanese poetry. Modern Japan is the age of evolution and expansion our poetry also began to undergo their influence.THE NEW FORM OF POETRY perfect 91 when we thought that nothing could be more than our little poems. however. the voice of a running stream. felicity of phrase. and to spin from the same old subjects. melody of versification. within their narrow limits.
5. while some use lines of 7 and 6 many forms like 5 and 5 7 and . which you already know in Hokku. which consisted of five phrases of and 7 syllables. Repetition is not without but we shall delight entirely when it is musical grow very tired of being suggested the same thing all the time monotony is often suicidal. a cherry-blossom. and 5. repeating them to a considerable length as they wish. and the like. Not only the subjects. the form of the poetry as well underwent a change. all. and they left the old home of restriction and flew out into the freedom of nature and life. 7. The modern poets could not rest satisfied with the hereditary shape. . the singing of insects or birds. at its best. The Uta poets lamented over the dead. (And there another shorter form. . But our shintai-shijin (the new-styled poem-writers) broke off at once from such a prejudice which is.) To-day they make their own forms to fit their own songs some use lines of 5 and 7. We may say that our Japanese poetry received a baptism and it seems it has somehow revived. were the subjects. longing for home. they never speculated of Heaven and where they should go after death. waves on the beach. . . 7. 7. . the refuge of an impoverished mind . . .92 THE POETS OF PRESENT JAPAN snow-capped Fuji Yama. 31 syllables in is lines of 5. consisting of 5. maple-leaves. Spring rains. and complained enough but their voices about the uncertainty of life were not from their actual study of real life .
it may be some time yet before we see real development of the drama. " . and serving. . and there are only five vowels. or pillow-words. . as it were. of such artifices is utterly despised by our modern The old poets tabooed in their poetry poets. and 4 and 7 . 7. . However. precedes. ballads. and 8 4 and . the introduction of a monosyllable Chinese word.jugglery " " a word or a part of a is the pivot-words word is used in two senses one. 93 . epics. as the pillow upon which it rests it might be said to be an adjective but always it is unintelligible in many cases and often absurd. 4. . 6 . 3. . 8 . there are many who atand even tempt to overcome the weakness We have a alliteration has been introduced. and so forth. are not so different from them word. and others have been invented to advantage. and 5 3. 7 and and 6 . But since every syllable of the Japanese language ends in a vowel. no poet could be successful in the use of rhyme j the would be only intolerably monotonous if i* However. in writing lyrics. which the shintai-shijin freely use and again the latter are not shy about using even English. they have begun to use the In one personification of abstract qualities. . with what the other with what The use follows. 7. they very . allegories.LIKE THE ENGLISH POETS 7 . trick of words in Ufa. Like the English poets. 7 5. poetry called makura kotoba result we used . 7 5. . Another bit of word." standing at the beginning of a verse. and 6 7.
who published their collections of new poems and translations from the Western poets. II Shimazaki's Wakanashu enthroned him at once as the master of Shintaishi in that respect he reminds us of Bryant. with quite an interesting interruption in a sort of duet : Mountain " The deer. Tetsutaro Inouye. Return to Spring a thousand years old." . the late Masakazu Toyama. when they wither away. fall to death.94 THE POETS OF PRESENT JAPAN or fifteen Some ten years ago the poems of in Japan. A Ramble in the Forest for instance. when they Spirit. Return " to love of their wives. (How . But in fact there was not much to consider till Toson Shimazaki appeared some ten years later. in this phase our poets were not far behind their Western brothers. and others. The fields and hills. undeveloped was this new-style poem before his appearance like a comet !) Even Shimazaki's actual work of his early days. It was in the early fifteenth of Meiji (1882) "storm and stress" overflowed when the Shintaishi were first introduced by the professors of the Imperial University. who suddenly illumined the dearth of early American poetry.
joyed before the China-Japan war which changed abruptly the aspect. On reading his poems to-day we cannot help showing our dissatisfaction with his want of persistence and minute observation and we need more enthusiasm. Awake from winter's dream-road." might be called a Japanese interpretation of Thanatopsis. the landscape . It was perfectly natural for Shimazaki to start as a poet of Nature as I understand. . green. and responsive imaginativeness which were brewed in the time when criticism was not so keen. and at the same time easier for it was in the idyllic years. We have more than one reason to compare him with Bryant. school of poetry is always first to appear in any country. sentiment. if we may so say (though they passed quickly as anything else in Japan) those four or five years we en- us to listen . tender. He began his work at the right time when it was easier for a poet to sing. and raised the question of the relation of man with man as well as of country with country. and aspiration of the country. 95 " Let " TIB Under bury the old fallen leaves the shadow of leaves. Come to this forest of Spring. But his tone. atmosphere. and some higher poetic dash.A JAPANESE THANATOPSIS Tree Spirit. vivified the sense of life. and the impression of foreign knowledge not so strong .
And he was not a poet of a few great poems we must it is true that he has no see him as a whole wonderful expressions nor separate lines for . which. faith. . which was passionate enough. quotation. His voice was that of a youth which has never received any deep scratch from life and his love. the shade and colour of his love were very young. as to-day. He is a poet of a few words with a few words. he an originator. when the flowers commingle with the birds to complete a beautiful concert. He was a poet of Spring. but not from real . We cannot so severely criticise his diction. and often sad. always fresh. it is delightful to notice that he could not pretend to a feeling which he . However. . In them he has a strong claim. must be regarded fairly they give a delightful relief to our minds. almost inclined to be sentimental he was always delicate. the song of where wisdom.) He hated. is a Japanese poet who is not sad. (I should like to know . he wrote a far better poem than you could expect. as any other Japanese poet. cannot be compared with that of a later poet who has boundless vocabularies at his command. extremely facile in ear and voice.96 THE POETS OF PRESENT JAPAN . was only a speculation of his dream and then. a Shelley for his predecessors in one sense. He was not a Tennyson who had a Keats and . He was a poet of sentiment. in fact. experience. was . and liberty he was flexible in his mind. .
that great sad is . His cadences and pauses were so pleasing. ideal. and Wordsworth. He associated nature with the ineffable and he entered into the bosom yearning of art of silence to seek his own home of poetry and . He was meditative. " The light of the moon. began to weave the grief and tears of love in his Ichiyoshu . one reason why even to-day all the beginners of Shintaishi should go to him first he is the father " " of the new-style poem in that sense. . although it is clear enough that he was greatly influenced by the Western magic. I am not sure at which shrine he burned his incense. Why does it make me think Incessantly 7 The shadow of the moon Has no voice. here I notice a certain touch of Saigyo Hoshi. Bryant in America. but not slow and also not profound And that is in one word. he was elementary. (That . Shining quiet.) In those days Rossetti and Swinburne were not known in Japan. However.TOUCH OF SAIGYO HOSHI 97 did not enjoy. Tennyson and Longfellow were the only names. nor did he hunt emotion and rapture for writing's sake as do the later poets. whose Oriental longing was deepened by Occidental suggestiveness. He who sang the nature and beauty of love in his first book of verses. also like poet of the Kamakura period. .
where he became a school-teacher. and he . is not altogether unacceptable.98 THE POETS OF PRESENT JAPAN But it does steal Into one's bosom Oh I who am going to die From the world and love My thought which I do not tell. he could not stay young and dreamy. from the oppression of life's meaning. It is true that he made his Western learning help him to make a better display. ! ! Which is more silent Which more sad ? " ? However. but at the same time he is a living proof that a made poet. and the universal soul and ideal. when he is properly made. and suddenly stopped singing when he left Tokyo for Shinano. but monumental. When he appeared again in literature. (By the way. He observed wisdom through Hugo and perhaps Schiller (he did not confine his reading to the English poets).) His real qualification as a poet is rather doubtful. it was as a successful His life as a poet was short. University as their centre. We must come to Bansui Tsuchii to find a representative of the culture and knowledge that advanced in no small degree with the Imperial novelist. And this shadow of the moon. It goes without saying that he was never moved by sudden instinct and quickening pulses but he was glad to scrutinise the phases of Nature. Tsuchii is a University man. .
who were fed honourable hands. not a first intention. Every Eve. but without tenderness. and he did not to his profit. sister). the same mother's called Star. But there is no sounder poet than this Tsuchii. called Flower. and under their almost to the discreetest degree right guidance he expressed his poetical thought." We notice that many young poets grew nursed by wrong poets. . Star and Flower. ethics was always sister) hi his view. " An6 (elder and Imo (younger The flower of the sky is The star qf our world ia By the same Nature's. And the flower of the sky fades away. The admirable part is that his poetical attitude was always sincere. But their odour is the same. whatever. " This and that are parted afar. Do you not see a drop of dew ? The star of our world is crying. deliberation and thought were praiseworthy return without something intellectual faculties . his conception of life grave and just. So his poem was a His result. but that is not to say fire. His were very well balanced.WRESTLING WITH ETERNITY 99 was pleased to add his own endorsement to them. He was the first to wrestle with Eternity. whose noble attitude of reverence toward . and Laughter Light they interchange sweet. " But when the clouds of the dawn grow white. and were carried away by the wild and fantastic passion and fire of a thoughtless youth. Flower and Star.
I am ready to say that he was quite commonplace. but he did not attempt to see her with his naked eyes. in making his I believe that . yet always attractive. open their arms to welcome Kyukin Susukida. and showed a fatigue at his monotony. and he gained a voice sonorous and rhapsodic. university poets of pseudo-classicism like Takejima or Shioi. Although his individual note was not impressive. but Tsuchii was manly. his poems prove his clear truimph over that knowledge and culture which did not appear to him as a and I will say that he was their distraction best harvester. it is no small art. lacked a touch of illusion. always comprehensive. Yukuharu and Botekishu. and he tried to robe her with his own idealistic robes. At least so he was in his earlier books. Those who wished for a deeper colour and variety of diction than Shimazaki's. Susukida enshrined like him he is a poet of Keats in his heart Youth and Beauty. I do not say that he did not understand Nature. to whom Nature appeared as a background.100 THE POETS OF PRESENT JAPAN the Western knowledge kept him at the proper place. though not particularly rich. He was wise to desert his fellow . from his excursion into the Chinese diction. . but he succeeded commonplaceness often suggestive. and so then he correct. and even helped him find the right clue of poetical mystery as he wished. Shimazaki was frequently He was effeminate.
habit of wearing gloves he is not accustomed so well to the open air. there is plenty of reason to believe that he was trying to escape from his culture and classicism which benefited him at the beginning it is almost tragic to see his His hands are too delicate after a long struggle. through which he looked for salvation. which he peopled with his choicest images and longing. but he never speculated in thought. He hated the world vulgar and material. but he made them a symbol of love and poetry. . refined by virtue of his training. If he were smaller or larger than himself. He is a poet of unerring culture who built the house beautiful. his mind never rose high. he is the master of art. He was simple.BEAUTY AND MELODY 101 He did not incline to solve Nature and Life as Tsuchii. he brought no particular message to our life. However. I should . . and he could be quite graceful even when he had nothing to say. who put beauty and melody of language before everything else. . He has been verily often critiIt is true that his taste was cised as a classicist. . He was a dreamer. he had no competitor in its beauty. in his later work. On the other hand. His views of life and beauty are far more advanced in his Nijugogen and Hakuyokyu than in his earlier books but it seems that he could not leave his classicism entirely. His chief merit must be valued through the channel of his language which gives us a delightful change from Shimazaki indeed.
and I hear The whisper sad. We have two other interesting poets of modern Japan in Ariake Kanbara and Homei Iwano. his weakness." false start in his poetical I have been thinking sometimes that he had a work it is true that he needed somebody to support him when he could not walk by himself but even at the time when he was perfectly able to manage himself. We read many reflections and . his eternal land of imagination and youth . His travelling guide or companion was Rossetti at first. I can never know the whisper of the far-away sea. original help. his strength is. : " I stand alone. " The voice is lone but clear. in It seems to me that Ariake Kanbara had been wandering in the labyrinth of experiment (how he loved that wandering).102 THE POETS OF PRESENT JAPAN off . Quiet but bright. his face still turned instinctively toward his . say that he would be better after all. when he strove to hold the vision and romance of his own kingdom of music and love. The whisper of the shining sky. . . not knowing exactly where he would come out he has much enthusiasm his sensitive mind made his poetical ambition quick to flame up over a new thing. Which the white sunbeams spoke. 'Tia Heaven's whisper over the far-away sea.
Vagueness is often a virtue a god lives in a cloud truth cannot be put on one's The darkness of night is beauty that finger-tip. there he shows a poet's dignity. . is only another view of the light of day. We are rather glad that he has no aim of amusing his readers in fact. " Between the spaces. I should say that he has only to smile over such a charge.AS IN THE CASE OF BROWNING 103 echoes of Rossetti even in his latest work.) To have a support at the start is nothing particularly bad but at the same time it is enough of a disadvantage. It is a question of genuineness for poetry realisation is the main thing. Of acacia branches commingled. The fragrance of the green ! . he always goes back to the simplicity of nature there may come a time for him when he will cry for that simplicity as a child for his mother's milk. He has been often charged with vagueness . as in the case of Browning read one of his poems called "Shu no Madara" or "The Dark Red Shadow" Spots with the following lines somewhere . . when he returned to simplicity he was most delightful. In fact. . . Still we know that when a poet is great. . (By the way. . the latest being Ariake Shu. lane. . Spread on The shining crown of clouds. Two alone in the shadowy You and I Oh how lovely. . he is the author of some four books of poems.
he may create a special personality. a caged nightingale who sings beautifully. symbolism if not "the affirmation of your own temperament in other things. special cult for the future generation to follow. his poetical atmosphere is rather close and shut up his mind is too systematic he has What is too good a head to be a great poet. I have some reason to think that his . . of a sudden. . thorough However. have no symbols in the seems to me that he has a great chance before him and if he can work out his own symbolism. " phenomena together ? Kanbara is that symbolist he looks upon everything with his own . thought disordered. the spinning of a strange thread which will bind you and the other is . His understanding of what it is to be a poet is and he can be that quite easily.104 THE POETS OF PRESENT JAPAN " The breezes fan. Alas." My He is a builder of a brick house who sets his materials with care he is a curio-shop keeper who arranges his bric-a-brac with no small taste. We it . The leaves of the Turn on Dreamily. He is not a free bird who sings to a star but he . acacia trees " The dark-red shadow-spots of the sun Swing . But we are rather doubtful of the nature of his faith . strict literary meaning . .
He is a wonder of development . but we are sure he must find some other way to make his poem alive.LOVE. like a shy bird. BUT NOT A PURPOSE symbolism may be only a fancy. It may be his love. places it on a tokonoma. strange flower. makes it bloom. He has to conquer his own soul he has to learn the emotion of faith which is primal After all. and he does gazes at and admires it from every side not require a great subject to sing on. would be his triumph if he could leave out his classicism which he himself created. waters it. that . he has too much restraint. nor pomp of line. His poetical mind is clear like a looking-glass which reflects every line and colour. he is a poet of taste. and description. But his he is too poetical mood is often sophisticated And if he careful. . Truth and beauty want no explanation. . but not a purpose and that is a weak point for him. He uses too often a sharpened it makes pencil to make a landscape of large size the picture a failure as a whole he spoils the general effect by paying too diligent attention to details. . grasps It life's meaning. unmistakable difficulty with his lines. But his enemy is himself . his cleverness . He takes a little seed of a . he has appeals too much to the reader's eye an excess of exactitude which only makes him difficult to follow. a certain . 105 it has no root in the ground. too timid. phrases. puts it in the ground. unfortunately he kills it. heaviness. . He has elaborate adjectives.
from other people I should like to say the same thing of Kanbara. He thinks with a strange thought how many people of Japan could understand Rossetti or Mallarme ? There are so many echoes of them in Kanbara's poems but I do not mean to underestimate his worth in that shade he is worthy and even wonderful. Some critic said that Mallarme (Kanbara's art. bid my careless love adieu. but his want of the . which originated in Rossetti. but because he now thought differently. but never reaching to a such a poet is rarely guilty state of maturity of falsehood or artificiality.106 THE POETS OF PRESENT JAPAN would be only his own fault. . sleeping flowers anear) . Iwano one of that " 'Tis too sweet ah. Spring joins with the road of dream what a vision (Light mist afar. My yearning of the springing passion Would live in the breeze under the cloudy sky. of a poet of promise with youthfulness and a certain amateurish fire." me . is often wonderful. was improved later by Mallarme and other French poets) was obscure. IV hear I have much to say on Homei Iwano. . . . Goes round " Let my spirit's eyes. the joy of the world. Under the window the slender rains fall on . not so much because he wrote differently. We power is of self-analysis class.
but looks forward to the sunrise and the sky. ality. the veil of his muse's shrine having fallen. . whether of love or other emotion and we are often sad when we are disenchanted. It is a pity that he is much troubled with the richness of his own fire and thought. in spite of himself. and. who scatters his thoughts and wastes his in fact. he is at home passion on any subject on any subject. and passion makes one of ten wonder His poems themselves are his person. His head never turns back to the twilight. cannot find the silence and the odour of time We and association in his free and often undisciplined songs. like a summer cloud which haunts the . loses his self -consciousness. the spirit of atmosphere should be properly valued . that poetical sureness is more often born than made. Iwano's imagination shows great variety in wealth and colour without depth.A TOO OPEN SINGER . his sudden fire and thought rising . will he His is the poetry of his transition age ever reach the time of realisation ? Doubtless his spiritual life will evolve and he will gain intimacy with Nature in time. I think. and we do not attempt to hold back the poet when he flies into the clouds. mountain peak. but his specula- and gaze. He has been accused of being an unthinking singer. Suggestion. tion in thought Questions in philosophy and reflection are not his own field . He is a too open singer his voice sometimes drops even into bathos. however. 107 His poem is that of mood.
and like it. and.) The question with him is not how to sing. And it seems to me that he always lacks just one touch of distinction. and troubled with his own gift. He is not a bric-a-brac poet whatever. naturally. He is the most versatile poet of the present day . I noticed then that his romanticism. (He is the Irish singer of Japan. poem should be Iwano that voice. and in any circumstances can be trusted as to his genuineness. which is his only guide. He was a poet ardently following after a romantic colour in life and passion when he published his Homei Shishu. exaltation of imagination and swing are the outburst of his own nature. The heart of Nature is sad. too. But I begin to observe a great change in his later work. Beyond the sounds of the wind and the waves you will be impressed by the loneliness and beauty of The real silence. tottered toward a sad confusion. his buoyancy and beyond. which is the dignity of Nature. but has yet to learn how to control his lacks On poetic impulse. but how not to sing.108 THE POETS OF PRESENT JAPAN up on the spot. frequently reminding us of the Celtic. But it is regrettable in his voice often stops at being only a something which should lie the other hand. While I know that the gospel of the negative cannot be admiredj some sense of limjta- . His mood is so compelling that he is carried on by the force of momentum. He is a born poet. he has unconsciously degenerated into every excess.
the fourteen-line songs which proved successful. 'Tis more than pain and love . It bears silence eternally growing." my My my my Now am my my It is acknowledged that in his later work he has deserted the golden realm of romanticism and entered delightfully into the silver-grey cloudland of symbolism and he has made a better friendship with Verlaine. I cry my world away with tears . and another carrying a terribly realistic picture of passion.SAD LOVE AND SAD SONG tion 109 " would do him a world of good. and taken him as a bosom friend without any proper etiquette. And bosom comes to flow. What he sings in them is less Japanese than universal. . one dwelling on a speculation in thought. hot tears alone run down. " Holding a stone which has no voice. When the loneliness in Nor God nor Death is in me . "Pis not for love as the other people say. 'tis this loneliness : own life. They are impressive in their own special way. 'Tis not for the pain which I suffer most. If there is a thing. flesh of burning thoughts will burn. I am sure that there is no slightest harm in it. And I pour on it own tears. and even thinks that he is himself a Japanese Verlaine. He wrote " Tankyoku in the Sad Love and Sad Song. . " Tankyoku " is not a sonnet it is which should be rigid in form and idea simply written in fourteen lines t . I a prey of And cry away this endless world with the stone .
whose calm rhythm and tender beauty of feeling might suggest a Longfellow Kagai Kodama. Hakusei Hiraki. return to poetry. but a revolution. It is not a rebellion in glad his case by any means. But . And I see a delightful change in Iwano of to-day.110 I of THE POETS OF PRESENT JAPAN do not call his transformation to some sort symbolism from romanticism an advance to a higher poetical plane it is simply his line of evolution. . who grasps a large subject and executes with a rigid construction and handsome but passionless rhetoric . . I even declare that he offends sometimes. whose Byronic fire and surprise cannot be overand Gekko Takayasu. what is the saddest thing with this Iwano is that he has lately stopped singing he is squandering his own talent and passion on novel-writing and It is not alone myself that wishes his criticism. But somehow I suspect that in his idea and poetry he is lusting after strange gods and kneeling to them in too free adoration. who is the singer looked . There are other names who have helped to make this new-styled poems or Shintaishi a strong literary force and brought it to the presentdevelopment for instance. Tetsukan Yosano. but without any bad intention against good taste and discretion and I espy that he appears quite hi his own action. whose life-long training in t/to-writing made his poems terse. and whose experience of life flashes sharp Suimei Kawai. . .
a singer of Byronism. that is to say. who. forget the . the old capital. some years before Shimazaki. already breathed a new poetical spirit into the in truth. where he lives. he might be poetry of modern Japan termed the father of Shintaishi. . The development of the last few years brought to the front two names. Hakushu Kitahara and Rofu Miki. to whose work special attention should be called. we cannot name of Tokoku Kitamura. an appreciator of quieter life and somewhat old but pleasing ideality. And lastly.TOKOKU KITAMURA 111 of Kyoto.
there were or are many beautiful women nicknamed Komachi. Want of vigour. Ono no Komachi. caused her to be called to the Imperial House. her poetical capacity as well as her beauty. There is feeling in her poems. Whether a fiction or not. Komachi is " " regarded as a synonym of beautiful woman ." Although she left little work. She was not from a family of high position by any means. " ill health. A NOBLE OF THE KYOTO COURT " The flowers and my love I Passed away under the rain. While I idly looked upon them Where " is my y ester-love ? " ONO NO KOMACHI. There is no other woman of old Japan whose life figures so largely in fiction and her name as a model of beauty more than as a poetess is universally known. belongs to the school of Sotoori Hime of ancient times. however. as she was a daughter of a certain chief officer of a county." Ki no Tsurayuki remarks.SOME VTA SPECIMENS FROM THE HYAKUNIN ISHIU ANTHOLOGY COMPILED IN 1235 BY SADAIYE. it is said. but little She is like a lovely woman who is suffering vigour. 112 . Fukakusa no from . is only natural in a woman's poetry.
and he called her to admit him to her house with no success whatever.ABE NO NAKAMARO Chujo's love-story with her his love : 113 is famous it is said that was utterly scorned. which he knew well in his boyhood days. and stayed in China for thirty-eight long years. when the Japanese ambassador to China. and considered himself as a Chinese. in among them. Oi and Rihaku. and he wrote this Uta thinking about the moon that used to come out of Kasuga's Mikasa hill. FujiwaranoKiyokawa. The Mikasa hill is in the outskirts of Nara. The Emperor Benso admired his ability and appointed him as his secretary and Nakamaro changed his name and took the Chinese name of Choko. It was a moonlit night when the dinner took place. and Nakamaro's thought of home stirred. It is said that every member of the party wept over 8 . Chinese poets. And he decided to return to Japan and many of his friends. . was going back. But it was the 4th of Tenbio Shoho (729). and that he died under the winter snow on his hun- dredth journey. Abe no Nakamaro left Japan for China in his sixteenth year. held a farewell party Nakamaro's honour. the two famous . " Behold the heavenly vastness. The sky of the moon ! Is it not the same of Kasuga's moon I once hill saw Out Mikasa " ? ABE NO NAKAMARO.
This Uta is one of them. saying that his old father needed him so that he could not go so far off. And the first ship which Tsunetsuyu rode in was damaged when it had hardly left the shore. men that I sailed Away into the eighty isles. He died in China at the age of eighty-one. the chief being Fujiwara no Tsunetsuyu. The Emperor Saga (810-842) was obliged to impose on him an official punishment since he had disobeyed his august command for such a reason. This Sangi Takamura's Uta was written when he in a boat to be an exile in the far-away Iki island. .114 his Uta. insisted on his safety. which are said to be beautiful in diction and full of meaning. and at once and he turned the head of his boat and landed resigned. the sea Tell " ! SANGI TAKAMUBA. fisher's boat. Nakamaro could not return home the ship in which he sailed met with a tempest. " thou. after all SOME SPECIMENS . and the four ships which were to take the entire company were announced officially. . It happened that he had been appointed vice-ambassador to China. However. and he was put having Takamura exchange ships for The latter grew angry. and he was shipwrecked. Into the bluest field. He wrote some seventy Uta poems on his exile journey.
Autumn Though Is not meant to be my own self's. Tentoku This Uta was written. Ah. best Some commentator says that this Uta poem is the among all the Uta poems ever written in Japan. my face betrayed The secret of my love." TAIEA NO KANEMOEI." OYE NO CHIZATO. All men ask me why I am so sad. on the 2nd of (957). me ! had been thinking that No one would know it. must the flowers fall " hearts unquiet ? Ki NO TOMONORI. when the Emperor Reizei gathered .MIBU NO TADAMI " 115 To gaze upon the moon Is to be sad in a all thousand ways. the " 'Tis the Spring day With Why With lovely far-away light. " That Is I love thee known already. it is said. " Alas." I MIBU NO TADAMI.
alas. the Oshima island fishers' sleeves Never change their tints. alas. though wet through. tearful sleeves of mine ! How might show thee IMPUKU MONIN NO OSUKE. to make my own tears alone lament and fall. this is one of the best. . Oh. the other best one being Taira no Kanemori's Uta. Tadami took the failure too hard to his heart and it is said that he died after ceasing to . eat for some days. which precedes this poem." SAIGYO HOSHI." My I SHIKISHI NAISHINNO. thread of my life. " But. Among the love poems on this occasion. Be torn off now if it must ! I fear in longer life secret would be hard to keep. The poetical umpire Ononomiya pronounced Kanemori's the better.116 SOME SPECIMENS the court poets and poetesses to hold an Uta contest. But. " Me Do " The moon has nothing think and cry.
List, the crickets sing
the mat of the frost-night, I, my raiment not yet unbound, Have to sleep alone."
GOKYOKOKU SESSHO SAKINO
" 'Tis not the stormy snow Luring the garden flower,
Is nothing but
my own self." NYUDO SAKINO DAJODAIJIN.
sleeves are like
The wide sea rocks unseen Even at the lowest tide. Nobody would know That their tears never dry."
SOME HOKKU SPECIMENS BY THE MASTERS
To-day, at last to-day, I grew to wish to raise
Autumn's full moon 5 Lo, the shadows of a pine " Upon the mats
"Yellow chrysanthemum, white chrysanthemum Why, the other names for me Are of no use." RANSETSU.
Let day pass, Let night break.'
they sing morning and eve."
Ah, how sublime
In the light of the sun
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