Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

Count the stars: there are seven.
And of gold lighthouses, nine.
In the shadows of the rocks,
write oysters breed, infinitudes,
but of my love there is but one,
alone.

Saijō Yaso

From Sakin (Gold Dust, 1919). A poet who was born in 1892 in Tokyo and died in 1970. Very famous as lyricist for children’s and popular and military songs. His works trace the subtle movements of the heart with a delicate and precise sense of language; he was one of the central figures among the so-called, “artistic” poems of the Taisho period. This is the short poem “By the sea” in its entirety. “Seven,” “nine,” “infinitudes,” “of my love there it but one”―the fulcrum is the placement and contrast of numerals as he sings of love and nostalgia. In his witty and sensitive style, he revivified a structural method sometimes found in old folk songs.

 

(Hoshi)(wo)数ふれば(kazoureba)七つ、(nanatsu,) (Kin)(no)灯台(tōdai)(wa)九つ、(kokonotsu,) 岩蔭(iwakage)(ni)白き(shiroki)牡蛎(kaki)かぎりなく(kagirinaku) 生るれど、(umaruredo,) わが(waga)(koi)(wa)ひとつ(hitotsu)(ni)して(shite) 寂し。(sabishi.)

西条八十(さいじょうやそ)

『砂金』(大八)所収。明治二十五年東京生まれ、昭和四十五年没の詩人。童謡、歌謡曲、軍歌の作詞家としてあまりにも有名だが、元来繊細な言語感覚で心象のゆらめきをたくみにとらえて歌う、いわゆる大正期芸術派詩人の代表格の一人だった。これは短詩「海にて」の全文。「七つ」「九つ」「かぎりなく」、そして「わが恋はひとつ」と、数字の配置/対比を軸にして、恋と郷愁の情緒を歌う。しゃれた感覚の歌いぶり中に、古歌謡の骨法が生かされていて面白い。