Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

Ancient ages

were like this too

My heart in pain becomes

a giant white bird

ascends the sky

Yosano Hiroshi

From aigikoe (Poems of love, 1910). This collection, for which Hiroshi chose about a thousand “short verses,” or tanshi (his word for the tanka then) from all those he had written since 1902, was the most important tanka collection of the Myōjō school in its later period. In his preface to it, Mori Ōgai bestowed heart-felt praise. Hiroshi’s literary reputation then and bow suffered unjustly in comparison to the high esteem accorded his wife Akiko, but as a poet of the sublime, he was unique among his contemporaries. In the tragic sonority of this poem, he expresses his own emotion through the legend of the ancient hero Prince Yamato Takeru, whose soul when he died turned into a huge white bird and flew off into the sky.

いにしへもinishie mo斯かりき心いたむときkakariki kokoro itamu toki大白鳥となりて空行くōshiratori to narite sora yuku

与謝野寛(Yosano Hiroshi)