Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

Awake,
eyes closed,
I listen....that faintness
must be winter rain
begun to fall

Oka Fumoto

From Fuyuzora (Winter Sky, 1950).Rain has always been a popular subject in Japanese poetry. There is the tanka of Princess Gishi Naishinnō, a daughter of Emperor Hanazono: “Vacantly listening/ alone at night/ to the rain’s sound,/ even the lulls/ are lonely” (Tsukuzuku to / hitori kiku yo no / ame no ne wa / furi wo yamu sae /sabishikarikeri). And there is Buson’s haiku: “Winter rain/ silently wets/ the camphor tree’s roots” (Kusu no ne wo / shizuka ni nurasu/ shigure kana). Poets have always preferred misty drizzles to heavy downpours. This tanka, written near the end of his life by a member of the Araragi tanka group who was also a noted calligrapher, captures the quality of “faintness” with exquisite subtlety. It is one of the finest modern tanka on the thin rain of early winter.

 

めざめ(Mezame)して(shite) (me)(wo)あけず(akezu)聴く(kiku) 幽けさ(kasokesa)(wa) 時雨(Shigure)(no)(ame)(no) ふり出でぬらむ(furi-idenuramu)

岡麓(おか ふもと)

『冬空』(昭二五)所収。雨は日本の詩歌の中で好んで詠まれた題材。「つくづくと独りきく夜の雨の音(ね)は降りをやむさへ寂しかりけり」は花園天皇皇女儀子内親王の歌。「楠の根を静にぬらす時雨かな」は蕪村の句。詩人たちの好みは、豪雨よりは細雨にいつも傾いた。名筆家で知られたこのアララギ派歌人最晩年の歌も、「幽けさ」をとらえて精妙。現代の細みある雨の名歌の一つだろう。