Colors: Lyricism of Kokinshu

『古今集(古今和歌集)』和歌「ふくかぜの いろのちぐさに みえつるは あきのこのはの ちればなりけり」英語訳

Imagination is a key to fully capturing the beauty of nature. That’s what poets from Kokinshu often do. They are not necessarily obsessed about depicting natural phenomena in detail, but instead they often let their imagination work to personify or magnify what can be found in the natural settings. Let’s look into into the technique.


ふくかぜの いろのちぐさに みえつるは あきのこのはの ちればなりけり
Fukukazeno irono chigusani mietsuruwa akino konohano chireba narikeri

In this extravaganza
The wind takes on glorious hues
Of gold and red
That falling leaves wildly diffuse

I saw various colors in the wind. It’s like leaves in various colors, gushingly falling from the trees, are pigmenting the winds.
吹く風がさまざまな色に見えたのは 色とりどりの秋の木の葉が 風に乗って散っているからなんだなあ

Falling leaves painting the winds. How poetic! This is how imagination works. It seems like Japanese people have somewhat spiritual affinity for this type of imaginative and romantic lyricism and people have long been attracted by something perceived by intuition instead of something achieved through building up rational arguments. Oftentimes imagination fully works out of a logical structure. Another background is polytheistic tradition of this country. Natural objects such as rocks and mountains, natural phenomena such as winds and fire, and also historic figures were and have been treated as gods. This somehow makes it easy for poets to personify and identify with what they see and hear in the nature. In the end, let’s get back to its preface and see what this is all about.



Our poems
Are born of our kernel hearts
Grow into millions of leaves


The world of mankind
teeming with earthly business
Finds a path for sensations
through whatever catches our eyes and ears


Nightingales warble in flowers
Frogs croak at the pond
The living things
Are all endowed with
Poetic spirit


Our poems
Give the universe an effortless turn
Derive much inspiration from divine spirits
Soothe feelings between men and women
And subdue warrior fearlessness

Series: Lyricism of Kokinshu
Poetic Spirit: Lyricism of Kokinshu
Acrostic Poems: Lyricism of Kokinshu
Tribute to Autumn: Lyricism of Kokinshu
Risqué innuendo: Lyricism of Kokinshu
The Moon: Lyricism of Kokinshu
Crickets: Lyricism of Kokinshu
Let go: Lyricism of Kokinshu
Wild Geese: Lyricism of Kokinshu
Colors: Lyricism of Kokinshu

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