★on art and life ― Sayaka is surprised at Jaugo’s outlook on life★
Jaugo: Another bit of Summer poem. What do you say to this, Sayaka-san?
Sayaka: I’ve never…
Jaugo: …Seen any TANKA like this before?
Sayaka: I know I sound stupid in repeating the same phrase for the third time in a row, but that’s my true feeling about this poem. This is the most strange TANKA I’ve ever seen, it’s not so much TANKA（短歌） as HAIKU（俳句）, it seems to me.
Jaugo: So it also does to me. That’s why I picked it out and presented it here for you… you like it?
Sayaka: Yes, it sounds cool… not the cheap COOL as most folks shout out at trivialities these days, but it is real cool… cool to my eyes, cool to my ears, cool even to my skin, it physically makes me cool to recite ― a word-cooler, I feel inclined to say.
Jaugo: Mm… you are much of a poet, Sayaka-san.
Sayaka: No, I’m not. A real poet is someone like this author… who is it… 慈円（Jien）? Was he a famous TANKA poet of the day?
Jaugo: He sure was. There are as many as 101 poems of him appearing in 『千載集（Senzai-shuu：A.D.1188）』(9 poems) and 『新古今集（Shin-Kokin-shuu：1210-1216）』(92 poems).
Sayaka: 92 poems of the same poet in a single anthology!? WOW!… and, in total?
Jaugo: The total number is the same ― 101 ― 慈円（Jien） never appears before the seventh and eighth anthologies: he was one of the most notable poets of the so-called “新古今時代（Shin-Kokin period）”.
Sayaka: Appearing more than 100 times in just two great Imperial TANKA anthologies… isn’t it kind of… phenomenal?
Jaugo: Not quite so with 『千載集（Senzai-shuu）』 and 『新古今集（Shin-Kokin-shuu）』. These two Imperial TANKA anthologies didn’t care just how many times the same poet appears, or even didn’t care whether the same piece of TANKA appeared in previous anthologies. They cared only about poems, not poets, not redundancy nor originality so long as the poem was beautiful. Poetic beauty prevails over everything, even over reality.
Sayaka: Art comes before life… or art IS life? It reminds me of 芥川龍之介（Akutagawa Ryuunosuke）… what did he say?
Jaugo: 「人生は一行のボオドレエルにも若かない（The whole life of a human being is even less worthy than a line of poetry by Baudelaire）」・・・或阿呆の一生（A life of a fool）?
Sayaka: That’s it!… Is that what you feel, too, Jaugo-san?
Jaugo: Life is essentially meaningless, with or without art.
Jaugo: Life is totally unworthy as it is. That’s why we try to make it worthwhile one way or another ― loving and be loved by somebody, making money and spending it to feel we are valuable, trying to make names for ourselves to escape from being “nobody” ― art is only one of such desperate human struggles to give some meaning to this essentially meaningless time we are afforded by… Heaven? Or Nature? Or God?
Sayaka: Or parents. I don’t want to make them sad to see my life end up in meaningless death.
Jaugo: Good, very good, Sayaka-san. So long as you think like that, your life will never be meaningless. To live for someone ― that’s the surest way to make your life worthwhile; far better than living for something… however valuable that “something” may be in the eyes of critics of later years, it is not so worthy as your life devoted to “someone” who means so much to you, who makes your life so worthwhile for you… and him, perhaps?
Sayaka: For us… it will all come back to “us”, not “it”, that’s what you say?
Jaugo: That’s it. You are happiest when you feel happy with someone, not with something ― however valuable or worthwhile 芥川龍之介（Akutagawa Ryuunosuke：1892-1927） says it is ― art alone is lonely, if not worthless: yet art cherished with someone who loves it along with you, that’s wonderful, don’t you think?
Sayaka: I couldn’t agree more! Let’s keep loving it together, Jaugo-san?
Jaugo: Sure. Just to make this joint adventure last long, let’s keep the joy for next time… so much for today: so long, Sayaka-san.
Sayaka: Thank you. See you soon.
Deep in mountains in the shade of trees,
Sounds of rocky streams freshly wash my ears,
Deeper still I hear cicadas coolly sing…
Do they really know it’s summer in the world outside?
かげ【蔭】〔名〕＜NOUN:the shadow, shade＞
…in the dark side of the mountain
もる【漏る】〔自ラ四〕（もる＝連体形）＜VERB:ooze out, spring from＞
しみず【清水】〔名〕＜NOUN:the pure clear water＞
さゆ【冴ゆ】〔自ヤ下二〕（さえ＝連用形）＜VERB:get sharp, keen, sound fresh＞
…I can clearly hear clean springwater running on the surface of rocks
の【の】〔格助〕＜POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(POSSESSIVE):’s, of, belonging to＞
ほか【外】〔名〕＜ADJECTIVE:outside, alien to＞
ひぐらし【蜩】〔名〕＜NOUN:cicadas (entomologically, ‘Tanna japonensis’)＞
の【の】〔格助〕＜POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(POSSESSIVE):’s, of, belonging to＞
…the voice of a cicada is heard [as if it came from] outside of Summer
《yama kage ya iwa moru shimizu oto sae te natsu no hoka naru higurashi no koe》
■from stories to pictures — from TANKA to HAIKU■
This coolly picturesque poem by 慈円（Jien：1155-1225） is one of those naturalistic TANKA which began appearing in large numbers at the time of the 5th Imperial TANKA anthology 『金葉集（Kin-you-shuu：A.D.1126）』 and its successor 『詞花集（Shika-shuu：A.D.1151）』. Such “Nature TANKA” were different from other Heianese poems which were essentially subjective in their description of Nature, depicting natural scene as a mirror to reflect back the personal feelings of the poet. Unlike traditional Heianese TANKA, this poem simply describes Nature as it is, only depicts what the poet sees (although not necessarily in the real world in the wild but probably the imaginary world in his own head) and never states what the poet feels, except that it says “夏の外なる（natsu no hoka naru = somewhat unlike Summer）” to impress upon the reader’s imagination how strangely cool this particular scene is.
Concentrating on depicting scenery without stating personal emotion ― this is a typical style of HAIKU(俳句), the 17-letter short poem in 5-7-5 syllables of Japanese. This particular poem by 慈円（Jien） may well be deemed to be one of the archetypes of HAIKU, although the explanatory phrase “夏の外なる（natsu no hoka naru = somewhat unlike Summer）” is unthinkable in any real HAIKU: within the 17-letter limitations, there is absolutely no room for verbal explanation of what the author feels (or what the author wants readers to feel) the scene to be.
In order for our readers to clearly make out the difference between 17-letter HAIKU and 31-letter TANKA, let us take two quite famous HAIKU poems by its originator 松尾芭蕉（Matsuo Bashou：1644-1694）.
《ふるいけやかはづとびこむみづのおと：furu-ike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto》古池(an old pond)や(yeah)蛙飛び込む(a frog jumps in)水の音(the sound of the water)
・・・If I were to translate it into 17-word(not -letter) English of 5-7-5, it should sound somewhat like this:
An old pond is here
A frog jumps in somewhere I hear
There is nothing else there
・・・Without any thought of the 5-7-5 format, I would make it into a 4-5-4 word English like the following:
A pond, old pond
Leaps in a small frog
Fading off into silence
・・・If I were to explain the poetic circumstances in 31 letters(not words) of 5-7-5-7-7 Japanese syllables, it should run as follows:
《われひとりながめしものとおもひしを こけむすいけにかはづいるらむ：ware hitori nagameshi mono to omoishi wo koke musu ike ni kawazu iru ramu》by 之人冗悟（Jaugo Noto）我一人眺めしものと思ひしを(although I thought it was me alone that was watching it)苔生す池に(into this mossy pond)蛙入るらむ(a frog has jumped in somewhere, it seems)
Another piece of 芭蕉（Bashou）’s HAIKU is somewhat similar to this particular TANKA by 慈円（Jien）:
《しずかさやいはにしみいるせみのこゑ：shizukasa ya iwa ni shimiiru semi no koe》閑さ(silence)や(yeah)岩に滲み入る(into the rock penetrates)蝉の声(a cicada’s voice)
・・・In formal 5-7-5 words of English, it should sound like this:
Sound of silence prevails here
Something cool invades to disappear into rocks
Cicada singing in quiet harmony
・・・If I didn’t care how many words to spend, I’d make it into 2-3-4 word English like the following:
A cicada’s voice permeates
Through silence into rocks
・・・A rather explanatory TANKA of 31 letters(not words) of Japanese should sound like this:
《ひぐらしはみみよりいりてみにしみて みるいはにさへしみいりぬべし：higurashi wa mimi yori irite mi ni shimite miru iwa ni sae shimiirinu beshi》by 之人冗悟（Jaugo Noto）蜩は(the voice of a cicada)耳より入りて(enters from the ears)身に沁みて(permeates through my body)見る岩にさへ(even into the rock I see before me)滲み入りぬべし(it seems to penetrate)
Without any emotion or explanation, the 5-7-5 HAIKU’s brusquely suggestive nature is certainly a long way ― 500 years away ― from the naturalistic TANKA of 5-7-5-7-7 at the end of Heian period.
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)