Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

Love-possessed, I went

to seek my sister

in the winter night

and the river wind blew cold

carrying the plovers’ cries

 

Ki no Tsurayuki

From Shūishū, Book IV, Winter .Masaoka Shiki’s Utayomi ni atauru sho (Letters to a anka Poet)was, among other things, a scathing denunciation of the Kokinshū and Tsurayuki, and in it Shiki wrote about this poem: “It is the only one [Tsurayuki wrote] that has any charm or interest. ”Shiki was, however, mistaken: Tsurayuki wrote many other fine poems. This particular one was written to order, to describe a painted screen. Winter, a cold river wind, plovers, and a man hurrying to his lover’s house-the scene Tsurayuki presented here was to become almost an archetype in classical poetry, and, at the same time, one of the first steps on the way to “plovers” becoming a season word for winter. Imogari means “to where my lover is.”

おもひかねOmoikane

妹がりimogari行けばikeba

fuyunoyono

川風kawakaze寒みsamumi

千鳥chidoriなくなりnakunari

紀貫之(きのつらゆき)

『拾遺集』巻四冬。『歌よみに与ふる書』で『古今集』や貫之をこきおろした正岡子規が「此歌ばかりは趣味ある面白き歌に候」としている歌だが、これは子規の短見。貫之には他にいい歌がいくらもある。この歌、元来は屏風絵に合わせた注文制作の歌である。冬・寒い川風・千鳥・恋人のもとへ急ぐ男という組み合わせが、いわば一つの典型的情景を演出し、やがて千鳥が冬の季語となる端緒の一つをもなした。「妹がり」は恋人の所へ。