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,

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.)