Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

Emptied of prayers

for the life to come

or even for this one

my heart is filled

with the falling cherry blossoms

Yamakawa Tomiko

From Yamakawa Tomiko Zenshū, Vol. 1, 1972. One of 14 tanka titled “Hikagegusa(Evergreen Vine)”, which appered in the May, 1908 issu of Mōjō (Morning Star). These were the last poems Tomiko published in her lifetime, a year before her death from tuberculosis at her age of 29. In them she was already imagining her own body dead and buried. In the heart of one resigned not only to the end of hope for the next life but even for this one, phantom cherry blossoms still scatter. Among the many tanka on cherry blossoms from ancient times, such a beautiful crysrallization of a tragic emotion must be very rare.


後世は猶

gose wa nao



今生だにも願はざる

konjo dani mo negawazaru



わがふところにさくら来てちる

waga hutokoro ni sakura kite chiru

山川登美子(やまかわとみこ)

『山川登美子全集』上巻(昭四七)所収。「明星」明治四十一年五月号の「日蔭草」十四首中の一首で、生前発表された最後の歌。結核のため二十九歳で夭逝した歌人は、死の一年前すでにこのような自己埋葬の歌を詠んだ。後世はもとより今生にさえ望みを絶ったと覚悟した人のふところに、なお散りかかる桜の幻。これほどに悲観的な感情が結晶した美しい歌は、古来ごくまれだったと思われる。