Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

In spring’s soft

Shining light a skylark

Rose and sadness

Been tnding my thoughts alone

ŌtomonoYakamochi

From Man’yōshu, the last poem of Scroll 19. Composed on the 25th day of the second lunar month of the year 753. Now that on a leisurely spring day, a small bird cried out again and again, and his heart overflowed with feeling; nothing but poetry could relieve him. Yakamochi, it is thought, was in his mid-thirties at that time. Two years before, after five years as governor of the post of the province of shōnagon and had returned to Nara, the capital. We cannot know to what the spring melanchory of this 8th century noble at the peak of his powers was due, but his emotion still moves to us now, and this poem is enjoyed as one of his best.

うらうらにuraura ni照れる春日tereruharubini雲雀あがりhibariagari情悲しもkokorokanasimo独りhitorishiおもへばomoeba

大伴家持(おおとものやかもち)

『万葉集』第十九巻尾。天平勝宝五年(七五三)二月二十五日作。今の四月はじめごろ。春日遅々として小鳥がしきりに鳴く。哀傷が心中にあふれる。それをはらうには歌によるほかない、という意味の注記が歌の後にある。家持は当時三十代半ばかと思われる。二年前、在任五年間の越中守から少納言に任ぜられ、奈良に帰郷した。壮年の天平貴族の春愁が何によるものか分からぬが、その干渉は現代人にも通い、代表作として愛誦される。