Loneliness and Snow: Lyricism of Kokinshu


When snow carpets the ground, your lives seem shut off from the rest of the world. No one dares to visit you in the mountains. Having no contact with the outside world, you seem like inexistent. Here is a short poem from Kokinshu, another old anthology dating back to the 10th century, describing that kind of sentiment.

雪降りて 人もかよはぬ 道なれや あとはかもなく 思ひ消ゆらむ

ゆきふりて ひともかよはぬ みちなれや
あとはかもなく おもひきゆらむ

The snow-covered garden, with no prints or dots
On the front path leading to my place
There is hardly a trace left of my thoughts

When snow shields you from access, you feel like your existence gets muted, blanketed and swept away. You eat and sleep but your life seem to have nothing to do with affairs other people concern themselves with. Even your thoughts get scattered in the silence and lose a tie to what you have been through.

We place relationships at the center of human existence and are expected to interact with the world — be present. However, solitary activities do help deepen our connection to our own life.

Snow provides us with a mental cushion from the external stimulation, and some space we need to reflect. As invisible to others as they are, you can incubate the ideas, reconnecting ourselves with our experiences and desires. Let the silence settle.

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