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Now, taking these "Single Songs of a Hundred Poets," as a whole, the reader will find that, broadly judged, they can be gathered, in accordance with their subject-matter, into three groups. Let us name these groups, 1. Nature, or contemplation and description of scenes in the outer world; 2. Sentiment, or moods associated with the milder human emotions, such as melancholy, pensiveness, regret, sympathy, contentment, gratitude, friendship, filial love, loyalty and the like. 3. A third group, belonging to the deeper ranges of emotion, but distinctive enough to be regarded separately, is composed of those poems which are an outburst of the passion, Love. Love-poems are in a high degree characteristic of Japanese, as of all other, poetry. In this collection, forty-six of the tanka, nearly half of the songs, have for their motive, some phase of this great human passion. Twenty-nine of the tanka are given to the more ordinary sentiments; and twenty-five to the scenes of nature. It will be well, however, in reading all these songs to remember that they need not be taken as transcripts of personal experiences. Most of them were creations for use in poetical contests and as exhibits of artistic skill. Often they may have had no other basis than the writers' fine fancies drawn from imagination's realm.

We shall not here try to pass all the songs in review. Readers can examine them at their leisure in the following pages. (Reference is here made to Vol. XXVII. Part IV, of the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, to which this essay is the "Introduction.") But, to illustrate the judgment just made, I call attention to a few songs which show some noticeable skill in form and mood, considered as utterances of the Japanese muse.

The Fourth tanka, for instance, is a delicate bit of suggestion and impressionism concerning a scene in nature. In its English form we will name it, "Beauty made Perfect." At the coast of Tago is one of Japan's very best sea and landscapes. Rising as its centre and crown is the "Peerless Mountain," Fuji. The scene is at any time one of supreme beauty. But the Japanese poet would add yet one touch to the consummate excellence.

When to Tago's coast

I my way have ta'en, and see
Perfect whiteness laid

On Mount Fuji's lofty peak

By the drift of falling snow.

So, also, in Song Seventeen where the poet celebrates the delight he felt at seeing the scarlet leaves of autumn floating upon the blue waters of the river Tatsuta. He recalls the wonderful age of tradition, when the gods, so it was said, held visible sway in the world; and all marvels were seen and done.

I have never heard

That, e'en when the gods held sway

In the ancient days,

E'er was water bound with red

Such as here in Tatta's stream.

In tanka Twenty-two, there is a punning word-play that does not ill befit even serious verse. The word arashi a storm," or it may mean,

may mean

"violent." The poet wrote:

Since, 'tis by its breath

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wild," or

Autumn's leaves of grass and trees
Broken are and waste,

Men may to the mountain wind
Fitly give the name, "The Wild."

A refined and delicate picturing of the magic wrought by the early frost of autumn is presented in Song Twentynine.

If it were my wish

White chrysanthemum to cull:

Puzzled by the frost

Of the early autumn time,

I, perchance, might pluck the flower.

Then, an effect of a falling snow is beautifully and graphically shown in the Thirty-first tanka :

At the break of day,

Just as though the morning moɔn
Lightened the dim scene,

Yoshino's fair hamlet lay

In a haze of falling show.

Again, the fancy of likening dew-drops to gems, such as is given in the Thirty-seventh Song is quite pleasing :

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In the autumn fields,

When the heedless winds blow by
O'er the pure-white dew,

How the myriad, unstrung gems
Everywhere are scattered round.


Passing over the many other verses devoted to scenes in nature, let us turn from this group, with a glimpse of The Beautiful World" given in the Ninety-third tanka. The writer was, we will suppose, on a lovely day seated near the sea-shore :

Would that this our world

Might be ever as it is!

What a lovely scene!

See the fisherwoman's boat,

Rope-drawn, rowed along the shore.

The group containing uta expressive of the serene or milder sentiments, is quite varied in mood and merit. Song number five, is one of the most attractive of them all. It was inspired by the poet's hearing "a stag's cry in autumn":

In the mountain depths,

Treading through the crimson leaves,
Cries the wandering stag.


When I hear the lonely cry,

Sad, how sad,-the autumn is!

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The Eleventh Song, however, is one of deep, touching feeling: An Exile's Farewell." It is an appeal to the insensate boats of the fishermen, the only objects, con

nected with human life, that witnessed the poet's unhappy start for the place to which he had been banished.

O'er the wide, wide sea,

Toward its many distant isles,

Rowing I set forth.

This, to all the world proclaim,
O ye boats of fisher-folk!

In Japan, as elsewhere, sadness is especially associated with moonlight, and with the autumn among the seasons. And in Japan, under the Buddhist faith, a pessimistic tone is exceptionally prominent in literature. These facts will help to explain the Twenty-third tanka.

Gazing at the moon

Myriad things arise in thought,

And my thoughts are sad :-
Yet, 'tis not for me alone,

That the autumn time has come.

In the Twenty-eighth tanka, a mood accompanying a winter scene appears :

Winter loneliness

In a mountain hamlet grows

Only deeper, when

Guests are gone, and leaves and grass
Withered are:-so runs my thought.

A longing for friendship, that inclines man in solitude to take even the lifeless things about him into his companionship, is beautifully shown in the Sixty-sixth tanka, in a personifying address to a solitary cherry-tree.

Let us each for each

Pitying hold tender thought,
Mountain-cherry flower!

Other than thee, lonely flower,

There is none I hold as friend.

To one who has seen the pensive and exquisite beauty of the scenery near Suma, a peculiar charm pervades the

Eighth Song,-"A Night at Suma's Gate." In ancient times there was an Imperial barrier at the place.

Guard of Suma's gate,

From your sleep how many nights

Have you waked, at cries

Of the plaintive sanderlings

Migrant from Awaji's isle?

There is a note of hope in the Eighty-fourth Song, an agreeable departure from the general sadness of these poems of Sentiment; -"The Transfigured Past."

If I long should live,

Then perchance the present days

May be dear to me :

Just as past time fraught with grief

Now comes fondly back in thought.

Many others of these poems of the sentiments are worth repeating as illustrative of our theme, but we will now turn to the third group,-that which is gathered about the mighty power moving in all human life,-Love.

Tanka Thirteen tells of "Love Perfected." The poet uses the figure of a mountain rill becoming a full, serene river. From Tsukuba's peak

Falling waters have become

Mina's still, full flow.

So, my love has grown to be:-
Like the river's quiet deeps.

In tanka Sixteen, by means of two word-plays,—one upon the word Inaba, a mountain, or district bearing this name, to which the poet was going, and, also, being the phrase, "if I go;" the other play being upon the word matsu meaning "a pine tree," and to "wait," as one pining for another may "wait,"-by means of these wordplays an assurance of "Faithful Love" is well given.

Though we parted be,

If on mount Inaba's peak

I should hear the sound

Of the pine-trees growing there,
Back at once I'll make my way.

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