Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

White bird, are you not sad?

You drift, never dyed

By the blue of the sea

Or the sky’s azure

Wakayama Bokusui

From Umi no Koe(Sea Voices, 1908), Bokusui’s first volume of tanka, published privately the year he graduated from the English Literature Department of Waseda University. The famous poem beginning “Iku yamakawa” (Hoe many mountains and rivers) is in the same volume. “White bird” means a seagull here. The cover illustration by Hirafuku Hyakusui was based on this poem. Contrasting the white of the bird with the blue of the sea and sky, the poet grieves over the bird, alive in the midst of nature’s vastness, and ober his own youthful loneliness. Today taka poets avoid repetitions like “sora no ao umi no ao”(literally, “the blue of the sky, the blue of the sea”)* but in Bokusui’s poems they work wonderfully toexpress feeling.
*I have translated the first “ao” as “blue” and the second as “azure” because the first is written with kanji while the secondis in hiragana.___Tr.

白鳥Shiratoriwa
哀しからずkanashikarazuya
soranoao
uminoあをaonimo
染まずsomazuただようtadayou

若山牧水(わかやま ぼくすい)

早大英文科卒業の年自費出版した第一歌集『海の声』(明四一)所収。「幾山河」の歌もこれに収める。「白鳥」はここではカモメ。平福百穂筆の歌集表紙絵も、この歌による図柄だった。空や海の青に鳥の白を対照させ、広大な自然の中に生きる海鳥の、また作者自身の若い孤愁を哀傷する。現代短歌が避ける「空の青海のあを」のような単純なくり返しが、牧水の歌ではみごとに生かされて感情を流露させた。