Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

Down silken sleeve
two feet long
fireflies glide and slide,
then flow
into the evening breeze’s green

Yosano Akiko

From Midaregami (Tangled Hair,1901). Akiko liked to weave numbers into her. poems and did it well: “hair five feet long,”“a three-foot boat,”“a thousand strands of hair,”“a twenty-year-old wife,”are a few examples. In the hands of a skillful poet,such usage can add clarity to the poem’s images. Like shining drops, fireflies slide down the long sleeves of a young girl’s thin summer kimono, then fly off. The evening breeze is so fresh it seems green. Now such a scene is close to a dream from a lost world.

うすもの(Usumono)(no)二尺(nishaku)(no)たもと(tamoto)すべり(suberi)おちて(ochite)(hotaru)ながるる(nagaruru)夜風(yokaze)(no)青き(aoki)

与謝野晶子(よさの あきこ)

『みだれ髪』(明三四)所収。晶子は歌に数詞を読みこむのを好んだし巧みでもあった。「髪五尺」「三尺の船」「千すぢの髪」「はたち妻」その他。数詞は内容に明確な輪郭を与える点で大いに有効な場合があるが、それも使い手の力量による。うすものの衣の長いたもとを、光るしずくのようにほろほろ滑り、飛び去 る蛍。夜風も青いさわやかな宵の讃歌。今ではそれも失われた幻に近いが。