★animal songs ― Sayaka impresses Jaugo by reciting several rhymes★
Sayaka: I love this poem!
Jaugo: I’m glad you like it, Sayaka-san. I’d be more glad to hear you say what attracted you so much.
Sayaka: This TANKA centers around 雁（かり:kari=wild geese）. I’m fond of birds.
Jaugo: I imagined as much.
Sayaka: Did you? Why?
Jaugo: You look like a cat; cats are the fiercest bird-lovers on the earth.
Sayaka: (…) You don’t look like a cat; do you hate birds, then?
Jaugo: Actually, I’m very against birds.
Sayaka: I can’t believe you saying that, Jaugo-san. What exactly is it that you hate about birds?
Jaugo: I hate them for being fatty, I hate the way they stick in my mouth, and I hate the way they are served with the bone as the handle, it’s more grotesque than appetizing for me… the sight of a turkey almost makes me feel like leaving the table!
Sayaka: (…) You hate birds’ meat, I understand; what about a bird’s poem?
Jaugo: This one? Yeah, it’s very fine, I’m fond of it.
Sayaka: I’m glad you like it; I’d be more glad to hear you say what makes you like it ― from poetic point of view, please.
Jaugo: It’s a poem about birds.
Sayaka: I know.
Jaugo: Do you?
Sayaka: I believe I do… is there anything that I miss about this poem?
Jaugo: No, I don’t think so. OK, let me rephrase the question: do you know any other Heianese TANKA that centers around birds… or for that matter, around cats, dogs, horses, deer, bees, frogs, fish, dolphins or whales, any other animals than humans as the focus of attention?
Sayaka: I think I can remember some… let me think… oh yeah, I do: “痩せ蛙負けるな一茶此処に在り（やせがえるまけるないっさここにあり：yase-gaeru makeruna Issa koko ni ari）”.
Jaugo: Um… it’s HAIKU（俳句） rather than TANKA（短歌）.
Sayaka: To come to think of it, yes…
Jaugo: And that from a much later 江戸時代（Edo period）.
Sayaka: Is that so? I felt 小林一茶(Kobayashi Issa) belonged to 明治時代（Meiji era） Japan.
Jaugo: And the poet advertises himself by exclaiming “Hey, you skinny frog, don’t get discouraged, don’t get defeated by unfavorable circumstances, here stands Issa Kobayashi, your personal supporter!”… who’s the focus of attention in this HAIKU, then?
Sayaka: Mm… then how about this one? ― “雀の子其処退け其処退け御馬が通る（すずめのこそこのけそこのけおうまがとおる：suzume no ko soko noke soko noke ouma ga tooru = Look out, baby sparrows, here’s a horse coming!）”.
Jaugo: Another poem by 小林一茶(Kobayashi Issa:1763-1827)… you seem to like him.
Sayaka: Not quite, but it just came to my mind.
Jaugo: Good; you saved me the trouble of introducing it for myself.
Sayaka: You mean, you intended to cite that particular HAIKU?
Jaugo: As a matter of fact, yes. Thank you for reading my mind, Sayaka-san.
Sayaka: I wish I could read your mind… then I would have no trouble interpreting any TANKA!
Jaugo: If you think so, just try reading my mind still more ― why do you think I tried to cite that HAIKU about “すずめのこ(suzume no ko = baby sparrows)”?
Sayaka: Because you actually like sparrows?
Jaugo: Yes, I really love living sparrows so much that I’d hate to see them fried and served along with soybeans and beer… but that’s not quite what I’d like to talk about now. Remember my original question… can you?
Sayaka: Do I know any TANKA poems made in Heian period that centered around animals?
Jaugo: Yes, that’s it… now let me ask you again: do you?
Jaugo: An impossible question to answer?
Sayaka: Um… wait, just a moment, please… oh yes, how about this?… “白鳥は悲しからずや空の青 海の青にも染まず漂ふ（しらとりはかなしからずやそらのあを うみのあをにもそまずただよふ = White swan, don’t you feel sad floating alone without blending into the blue worlds of ocean or sky?）”… what do you say to it, Jaugo-san?
Jaugo: I say, I’m quite impressed! You really love birds, and you are much more poetic than I imagined, Sayaka-san.
Sayaka: I’m glad you say that. Did I hit the target this time?
Jaugo: Not in the bull’s-eye, I’m afraid: the poem was made by a modern poet 若山牧水(Wakayama Bokusui:1885-1928).
Sayaka: Oh, no, I blew it again!
Jaugo: Don’t get discouraged, Sayaka, for you’ve done quite a good job as my sidekick.
Jaugo: Yes. All those poems you cited with animals as the focus of attention are the products not of Heian era Japan but of much later years.
Jaugo: As a matter of fact, no TANKA actually appears in nearly 10,000 poems of 八代集(hachidaishuu = eight great Imperial TANKA anthologies) which includes “雀（すずめ：a sparrow）” or “猫（ねこ：a cat）”.
Sayaka: Was there no cat in Heian era Japan?
Jaugo: There actually was, being called “唐猫（からねこ：kara-neko = a Chinese cat）” and adored by court ladies, as can be seen in such prose as “枕草子（Makura-no-soushi：ca.996-1002）” or “源氏物語（Genji-monogatari：1008）” but not even one appears in 八代集（hachidaishuu） as a focus of attention in TANKA.
Sayaka: How about “犬（いぬ：a dog）”?
Jaugo: There is one poem which includes “犬上(いぬがみ：Inugami)” but it’s a reference to a certain place name, not to a dog as an animal. And the one and only TANKA that includes “繋ぎ犬（つなぎいぬ：tsunagi-inu = a chained dog）” is not an authentic TANKA but a joking word-play called “物名（もののな：mono-no-na）”.
Sayaka: “もののな：mono-no-na”?… What’s that? I’ve never heard about it.
Jaugo: It’s not so much a serious poem as a series of letters solely composed to include some word or phrase in it. The one in question is “《たかかひのまだもきなくにつなぎいぬの はなれてゆか＜むなくるま＞つほど：taka-kai no mada mo kinaku ni tsunagi-inu no hanarete yukamu na kuru matsu hodo》鷹飼ひの未だも来なくに(even before the falconer comes)繋ぎ犬の離れて行かむ(the dog will get loose from the chain and go away)汝来る待つ程(while I’m waiting for you to come)”… the purpose of this utterly meaningless sequence of letters is just to include “むなぐるま（muna-guruma：空車 = a vacant car）” as a part of it.
Sayaka: It sounds strange… why doesn’t Heianese TANKA include 猫（ねこ：cats） and 犬（いぬ：dogs）, when it includes 雁（かり：wild geese）… was this particular poem we’re talking about the only one to include 雁（かり：wild geese）?
Jaugo: Far from it: this is one of the 115 poems that include 雁（かり：wild geese）.
Sayaka: One hundred and fifteen wild geese!?… Against zero cat and one joking dog?! It just doesn’t make any sense to me, why?!
Jaugo: That’s a million-dollar question… and the answer of Miss Sayaka is…?
Sayaka: Maybe there is something more to 雁（かり：wild geese）than meets the eye.
Jaugo: Correct reasoning; do you know what special meaning is hidden behind 雁（かり：wild geese）?
Sayaka: Wild geese are migrating birds, so… are they thought to be some kind of messengers?
Jaugo: You guessed it right.
Sayaka: Have I won a million dollars now?
Jaugo: Not yet. What kind of messengers were wild geese supposed to be?
Sayaka: Um… coming winter?
Jaugo: Another point won… what others?
Sayaka: I give up, I’m at my wit’s end now… what else?
Jaugo: Wild geese are referred to in Heianese TANKA as a symbol of coming winter, secret messengers of letters about one’s whereabouts, personal letters in general, and even as messengers to the world of the dead.
Sayaka: Why?! Poor geese, did their cry sound weird to people in Heian era Japan?
Jaugo: No, it’s not the sound but the direction in which they flew back… do you know where?
Sayaka: To the north… was it supposed to be where the land of the dead was located?
Jaugo: Yes. Do you know what Heian era nobles called the north-eastern part of Japan ― what is now called 東北地方（touhoku region）?
Sayaka: Um… 陸奥（michinoku）?
Jaugo: Yes. And since the original meaning of “みちのく(michinoku)” was “みち-の-おく（michi no oku = the end of the road）”, the region beyond “みちのく（michinoku = the end of the road）” was naturally supposed to be the land of the dead… in fact, it is Siberia, but people in Heian period thought wild geese were flying to the land of the dead… uh… is my story beginning to tire you, Sayaka-san?
Sayaka: Honestly, yes. I love birds, but I’m not quite interested in such ancient legends about wild geese… please forgive me for being so rudely honest.
Jaugo: Honest refusal of uninteresting things is the surest starting point to the discovery of what really interests you. You should keep being earnestly honest before me, if not in front of other people who might not be so earnestly interested in what should really interest them.
Sayaka: I’ve never known anyone saying things like that…
Jaugo: Are you shocked… or impressed?
Sayaka: I’m definitely impressed!
Jaugo: I’m glad you say that… so, let’s get back to the tiresome stories about 115 wild geese appearing in some 10,000 poems of 八代集（hachidaishuu）. In practically every piece of Heianese TANKA with some living things other than humans in it, the reference is made not to describe such non-human beings themselves but rather to symbolize something behind such living things. In other words, they are not the focus of attention but merely the shadows of some hidden message. In that sense, they are not “living” at all, they are just there as some metaphor, they might just as well be drawings on the wall, and they need only be expressed by mere words and not depicted as living creatures as living as we humans do… in fact, Heianese poets just didn’t have to see geese in the wild to refer to 雁（かり：wild geese） in their poems! Virtually all living things other than humans in Heianese TANKA exist merely as some concept, not as living entities with their own emotions or purposes of life worthy of mention in their TANKA… Now, you know why there is no 犬（いぬ：dog） or 猫（ねこ：cat） appearing in Heianese TANKA?
Sayaka: Maybe because cats and dogs seem to have their own will and emotions, which cannot be simplified into any stereotyped image?
Jaugo: Exactly! Now, take a look at this particular poem again: are the wild geese in this poem “dead” or “living”?
Sayaka: They look alive… I mean, this poem tries to walk up to the feelings of wild geese flying back home, not just trying to use them to say something that the poet, not the geese, is trying to convey.
Jaugo: Yes, that’s why you love this poem, and so do I ― it’s a poem about “birds”, not bards. It’s quite a rare specimen of Heianese TANKA that walks up to a non-human object to feel for its inner emotions, without any subjective comments of the poet himself.
Sayaka: Is it that rare among Heianese poems?
Jaugo: Definitely. There are very, very, veeeeerrrry few of them. A poem of empathy, we should call it.
Sayaka: A poem of empathy… as opposed to… what?
Jaugo: As opposed to… what should we call it?… how about “a poem of subjective reflection”?
Sayaka: Um… yes, sounds OK to me.
Jaugo: And if you please, there is a pair of archaic Japanese terms referring to the opposite directions of attention… are you interested?
Sayaka: Yes, of course. Tell me what.
Jaugo: “見遣り（みやり：miyari）” and “見遣し（みおこし：miokoshi）”… the former is an empathic attitude to walk up to others’ feelings, the latter is a self-centered attempt to draw others’ attention to ourselves… which do you like, Sayaka-san?
Sayaka: Empathic 見遣り（みやり：miyari）… does it lead to 思い遣り（おもいやり：feeling for others） too?
Jaugo: Yes, it leads to everything truly peaceful, loving and attractive… that’s how I feel about 見遣り（みやり：miyari）, although most people nowadays seem determined to stick to the opposite attitude of 見遣し（みおこし：miokoshi）, crying out as loudly as they can “YOU take a look at ME! I am here! Just FOLLOW ME! I am the center of this world as far as I’m concerned!”
Sayaka: I hate such folks…
Jaugo: And you love poems like this.
Jaugo: Then, you and I have something in common. That’s why I enjoy talking with you so much, Sayaka-san.
Sayaka: The feeling is mutual, Jaugo-san, although my love of this conversation of ours is definitely greater than yours, I’m sure!
Jaugo: I’m glad to hear that. So long as the balance is even or in my favor, I’ll be always willing to walk up to you, Sayaka-san. OK, so much for today.
Sayaka: Will there be more 見遣り（みやり：miyari） poems coming up?
Jaugo: Yes, I promise. See you again soon.
Sayaka: Thank you. See you.
Cherry trees in full bloom, endless feast to our eyes,
Seem powerless to stop wild geese flying home to their country’s Spring.
みる【見る】〔他マ上一〕（みれ＝已然形）＜VERB:view, watch, enjoy seeing＞
ど【ど】〔接助〕＜POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(DEGREE):no matter how…＞
あく【飽く】〔自カ四〕（あか＝未然形）＜VERB:get weary, be tired of, be fed up＞
はな【花】〔名〕＜NOUN:flowers, especially cherry blossom＞
の【の】〔格助〕＜POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(POSSESSIVE):’s, of, belonging to＞
さかり【盛り】〔名〕＜NOUN:the best time, prime＞
に【に】〔格助〕＜POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(TIME):at the time of＞
…at the prime of cherry blossom we humans couldn’t see enough of
…wild geese travel back [in the sky to their country]
なほ【猶】〔副〕＜ADVERB:still, all the same＞
の【の】〔格助〕＜POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(POSSESSIVE):’s, of, belonging to＞
はる【春】〔名〕＜NOUN:Spring, vernal season＞
こひし【恋し】〔形シク〕（こひしき＝連体形係り結び）＜VERB:be fond of, be attached to＞
…[for all the beauty of our cherry flowers] do they still feel more attracted to their own country’s Spring?
《miredo akanu hana no sakari ni kaeru kari nao furusato no haru ya koishiki》
■a poem of empathy quite rare to find among Heianese TANKA■
Wild geese flying north back to their home leaving behind cherry blossom in full bloom at the height of Spring in Japan is a time-honored theme firmly established in Heianese TANKA. Wild geese are also known to migrate in late Autumn to early Winter. Their sight in the sky along with their forlorn voice at the seasonal turning points is such that as many as 115 TANKA poems include 雁（かり：wild geese） among about 9,700 pieces of 八代集（hachidaishuu = eight great Imperial TANKA anthologies）. Next to 郭公（ほととぎす：little cuckoos）appearing 270 times, 雁（かり：wild geese） are the second best favorite birds of Heianese nobles.
But the way Heianese poets loved 雁（かり：wild geese） is not quite like the way the British adore robins. Loving robins as robins, seeing them as small friends of ours with their own emotions or schemes in life, is an attitude virtually nonexistent in Heianese TANKA. When TANKA poets of Heian era Japan refer to living things other than humans, they merely cite their names as symbols of something that simply function as a reflected image of their own subjective emotion. Such living things are, so to speak, not “living” at all in Heianese TANKA… not at least as living as English robins or as sparrows and horses in much later Edo period vividly depicted in that famous HAIKU “雀の子其処退け其処退け御馬が通る（すずめのこそこのけそこのけおうまがとおる：suzume no ko soko noke soko noke ouma ga tooru = Look out, baby sparrows, here’s a horse coming!）” by 小林一茶（Kobayashi Issa:1763-1827）.
For good or bad, Heianese TANKA poems are structurally subjective. Even today, when we humans see flowers bloom, we may feel they are beautiful, but never will we feel they have their own will to try to bloom beautifully. When we see flowers wither, we may feel sorry, but rarely do we feel the flowers themselves are sorry or painful: we feel painfully sad to see flowers wither because we overlap our mortal destiny upon withering flowers. We are glad to see beautiful flowers partly because we are glad to find ourselves capable of feeling them beautiful. Withering flowers make us feel sorry, not for the flowers themselves but for ourselves that will some day follow the same withering path. Viewed in this light, flowers exist in our mentality not as flowers per se but as mirrors reflecting our own subjective emotions. So do the moon, stars, trees, which apparently have no emotions of their own. The same can be said about microbes or earthworms or… maybe about inchworms or silkworms or beetles? Some may object, who love such bugs so much that they just can’t stand seeing them as mere objects of objective observation or subjective emotional reflection but will walk up to their existence per se, to their own inner emotions or motives, so deeply as to identify themselves with such wordless and apparently emotionless nonhuman entities and end up saying something on their behalf in their human words. Few will be found to speak like that for beetles or butterflies, but many British people will do that for robins. Most Westerners identify themselves so deeply with dolphins or whales that they just can’t stand dolphin-slaying and whale-eating Japanese, who seem incapable of empathic communion with our close friends in the ocean… or possibly with the Western community of humans?… Anyway, the discriminating line of human-nonhuman empathy in Japan as manifested in Heianese poetic representation is so incredibly close to humans ― or should we say, to 清涼殿（せいりょうでん：Seiryou-den）, the highest place in the Imperial Court in 京都（Kyoto） ― that practically all non-human animals (or sub-normal humans) are given the same “subjective mirror” status as totally emotionless trees or heavenly bodies.
In contrast, this particular piece of Heianese TANKA depicts wild geese as something actually living with their own emotions and scheme in life, not just heartlessly objectifying them as the seasonal pictorial background or target of subjective emotions of the poet. Simply put, it is a “birds’ song” as opposed to “a bard’s poem”. I recommend remembering this poem as quite a rare exception to the general rule of Heianese TANKA that all but the selected few humans are allowed to assert their own emotional existence, to be merely referred to as subjective reflection of the poet’s emotions.
You should also remember that the empathic attitude of walking up to the object’s circumstances used to be called “見遣り（みやり：miyari）” in archaic Japanese, with its opposite being called “見遣し（みおこし：miokoshi）”… both of which are obsolete in current Japanese vocabulary, possibly because the latter attitude of expecting “OTHERS” to walk up to “ME” (or “我々日本人：WE Japanese” or “場の空気:the atmosphere of the moment”) has become the de facto standard of this inherently homogeneous and similar-thinking/acting people who are unbelievably poor (by Western standards) at identifying themselves with the respectively different shoes of “a stranger”, be it a non-human animal, non-Japanese foreigner, or a non-conforming compatriot among themselves. Such kinds of “beings apart”, especially in times of national trouble and chaos, are contemptuously labeled as “非国民（hi-kokumin = non-Japanese）” or “人非人（nin-pi-nin = non-human）” or “余所者（yoso-mono = outsiders）”, and a Japanese who is boldly intelligent and empathic enough to point out this shameful national propensity to their compatriots as a sincere warning against potentially inhuman atrocity is disgustfully dismissed as a nerd with that national pet-phrase of theirs “お前はそれでも日本人か！？（omae wa sore demo nihonjin ka!? = Do you really purport to be a Japanese, behaving like that!?）”… at such times, the Japanese never fail to challenge you to choose either to join the Japanese, or to remain a human outside their in-groups ― when the Japanese are determined to assimilate you into the collective, you just have to comply… resistance is futile. The undoubting vehemence of Japanese peer-pressure just has to be experienced among them to be believed by essentially individualistic citizens of the Western civilized world.
This wild geese poem is a black swan among such non-empathic Heianese TANKA, which naturally walks up to the non-conforming mentality of this black sheep of a Japanese who calls himself Jaugo Noto(之人冗悟：のと・じゃうご). I doubt most Japanese have any idea what I’m saying, in what way “見遣り歌（miyari poems, trying to walk up to others）” are different from “見遣し歌（miokoshi poems, just expecting others to walk up to them）”…
Try to see and remember the fundamental difference between this one and the following (totally HEIAN/JAPANized) 本歌取り（ほんかどり：honka-dori, proudly plain plagiarism from well-known works of the past） which does nothing but pompously exhibit the poet’s “literary excellence” by referring to two famous TANKA poems, snobbishly asking you (in a sophisticated whisper) “of course you know what I mean? (…you do, if you are one of US…)”… Now, ask yourself ― do you really want to be assimilated into THEIR collective?… or will you choose to remain a true friend of robins or wild geese, away from the madding crowd of snobs who love nothing more than resigning themselves to established routine as mindlessly as a drone in the happily unfeeling beehive? Gaze into your own mind and decide ― after you recite (tens of times!) the following borrowing from greatly successful ancestors… at first sight, you may applaud (not at the poem itself for being poetically excellent, but at yourself for being culturally sophisticated enough to have known the original works being referred to in the plagiarism); on second thought (or maybe third, fourth or tenth), however, you will realize how sinful such easy applause can be ― I advise all Japanese think twice, if only to avoid looking absurd in the eyes of normally cultured Westerners (hopefully to help stop Japan’s “snobbish beaten-path conforming syndrome”):
《furusato no hana no nioi ya masaru ramu sizukokoro naku kaeru karigane：ふるさとのはなのにほひやまさるらむ しづこころなくかへるかりがね》『詞花集（Shika-shuu）』春（Spring） No.33 by 藤原長実母(Fujiwara-no-Nagazane’s mother)古里の花の匂ひ(the scent of flowers in their own country)や勝るらむ(is it better than ours?)静心なく(so restlessly)帰る(go back home)雁がね(wild geese)
・・・cf:《hisakata no hikari nodokeki haru no hi ni sizukokoro naku hana no chiru ramu：ひさかたのひかりのどけきはるのひに しづこころなくはなのちるらむ》『古今集（Kokin-shuu）』春（Spring） No.84 by 紀友則（Ki-no-Tomonori）久方の光長閑けき(in the gently restful sunshine)春の日に(on a Spring day) 静心無く(so restlessly)花の散るらむ(cherry flowers [alone] are falling down… I wonder why?)
We provide you not with actual conversation partners, but we enable you to engage in intellectually enticing conversation with Sayaka-san/Jaugo-san(…no mean feat, isn’t it?)
WEB lessons by ZUBARAIE LLC. are currently for JAPANESE students only, conducted in Japanese language (…sorry for English speakers)