Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

It’s the taste

of sorrel stalks

that I can’t forget

The sadness of things

when I was young


Yoshii Isamu

From Sake Hogai(In Praise of Sakē,1910).Tanka are often talked about in terms of how they “go down,” whether their kuchi atari, their feel on the palate, is “good” or “bad.” “Going down easily” is, contrary to what one might expect, not always a term of praise. Sometimes it is no more than a way of indirectly saying a poem is superficial. However, as a rule, the works of the best poets in the early period of the modern tanka “go down” easily. The problem bears thinking about even today. We have Hiroshi, Akiko, Bokusui, Yūgure, Takuboku, Hakushū. And this Isamu. The poem here goes down almost too easily, but he holds back at the right point.


Sukanpo no


kuki no aji koso




itokenaki hi no


mono no kanashimi

吉井勇(よしい いさむ)