Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

If I lived with the fishes
in the deep blue ocean, sea
flowers swaying beneath
the waves, would this
pain, this anguish be eased?

Akutagawa Ryūnosuke

From Akutagawa’s collected letters. Akutagawa wrote this tanka, one of his earliest works, on a picture postcard he sent to his close friend Nishimura Teikichi while vacationing at Chōshi, Chiba Prefecture. It was the spring of 1909 and he was 17. It is easy to dismiss this poem as an expression of youthful sentimentality, but modaezaramu ka (“would this/ pain, this anguish be eased?")has a concentrated power, as though his melancholy had forcibly squeezed it out. Akutagawa continued to send tanka to Tsunetō Kyō and other close friends until 1916.


芥川龍之介(あくたがわ りゅうのすけ)