Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

I send you home
in the morning, the snowy path
crunches under your feet
Oh snow, fall with
the scent of apples!

Kitahara Hakushū

From Kiri no Hana (Paulownia Flowers, 1913). In the late Meiji period.Hakushū defined a new era in modern poetry with his collections Jashūmon and Omoide; with Kiri no Hana he also became a central figure in tanka. This was not only because of its new style, but also because of the metamorphosis (recorded in the “Poems of Sorrow” section of Kiri no Hana) in his personal life that came about because of his arrest for having an adulterous affair: “A snowy night,/we draw near/the red hearth,/another’s wife and I ――/where can we go from here?” (yuki no yo no / akaki iro ni / suriyoritsu / hitozuma to ware to / nan to subekemu) But the real newness of his style was in poems like the one above. An innate freshness of the senses, an effortless luminosity.

 

(Kimi)かへす(kaesu)
(asa)(no)鋪石(shiki-ishi)
さくさく(saku-saku)(to)
(Yuki)(yo)林檎(ringo)(no)
(ka)(no)ごとく(gotoku)ふれ(fure)

北原白秋(きたはら はくしゅう)

『桐の花』(大二)所収。明治末年、二冊の詩集『邪宗門』『思ひ出』で近代詩史に新時代を画した白秋は『桐の花』で歌人としても時の人となった。新風という意味でも、また『桐の花』哀傷篇で歌われているような、人妻との恋による未決監拘事件という一身上の大変化という意味でも、時の人だった。「雪の夜の紅きゐろりにすり寄りつ人妻とわれと何とすべけむ」。しかしもとより掲出歌のような歌の中に彼の新風はあった。天性の五官の清新、軽やかな輝き。