Golden Breeze

winter grief’s melted
by golden breeze through green shade
sparkling  pool of tears

Kim M. Russell, 2017

Summer Stars

My response to Carpe Diem’s Time Travel, Ancient Japanese Poetry To Inspire You #1 little I should grieve

Chèvrefeuille welcomes us to a new feature for ‘weekend meditation’, in which he takes us back to a time when poetry was an art only for the higher classes of Japan. He tells us that a lot of those poems were collected in anthologies like the Kokinshu (or Kokin Wakashu – 920 AD) or the Man’yoshu (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves – 745 AD. Each week, Chèvrefeuille plans to give us some background on the anthologies, share a few examples and give us a poem for our inspiration.

In this first episode, he has chosen a poem from the Man’yoshu or ‘Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves’, an anthology of ancient Japanese poems compiled c. 759 CE during the Nara Period, which is regarded as a literary classic. It consists of 4,496 poems organized into 20 books, the vast majority being in the waka (aka waku) style: each poem has precisely 31 syllables in five lines (5+7+5+7+7).  262 poems are written in the longer nagauta style, which can have up to 200 lines. There are also 62 sedoka poems (six-line poems of 38 syllables) and four poems written in Chinese. The poems come in three broad thematic categories; zoka (miscellaneous), somon (mutual inquiries or love poems), and banka (elegies). They cover a period of four centuries and it is likely they were intended to be sung.

Many scholars consider the Man’yoshu to have been compiled by the poet Otomo no Yakamochi (c. 718-785 CE). Chèvrefeuille has shared one of his poems together with two further examples, one by Emperor Jomei and the other by Kakinomoto Hitomaro. However, for this episode, he has chosen a ‘waka’ by Princess Kagami (7th century), which was written in response to a sedoka written by her younger sister Princess Nukada, the most famous female poet of her time.

Even a breeze may fail me
When I desire it.
Little I should grieve,
If only, sure of its coming,
I could await even a breeze.

© Princess Kagami

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3 thoughts on “Golden Breeze

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