Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Of Lovely Things in Japan

Far away toward the sunrise, in the blue waters of the Pacific, lies the Empire-of-Myriad-Islands, the Land-of-the-Dragon-Fly, Japan.  In Japan there is wealth of sunshine, of flower-bloom, and of bird-song, and the people love these beautiful things.  They love trees and breezes, butterflies and birds, moonlight and starlight, and they love these things so much that for hundreds of years they have been writing verses about them.

Anyone may write verses in Japan,-that is, anyone who listens with all his heart to the song of the nightingale among the flowers, to the voice of the frogs in a star-lit pool, and the music of the wind, singing in the tress.  Little girls, little boys, men and women, grandfathers and grandmothers, all may write poetry in Japan, and they write about the things they love,-about birds and blossoms and butterflies, and the shadows of the clouds that go racing over the fields at noon-day.

They write little verses on pictures, on gaily embroidered screens, on cups and plates, on painted fans, on towels, on handkerchiefs,-in fact, they write verses anywhere!  The farm-girls with bare legs and wide straw hats, standing knee-deep in the muddy water of the rice fields, make verses and sing them as they work.  Fishermen, fishing by the flaming light of torches, with those queer birds, the cormorants, make verses as they fish.  Porters, trudging up to their necks in the tall grass, with packs on their heads, make verses as the trudge.  In joy or sorrow they makes verses, verses, verses.  Indeed, in no country of the world are all the people taught so truly to love poetry as in Japan, and they know quite well, these little folks of the Empire-of-Myriad-Islands, that every single thing that has life, nightingale, butterfly, bee or flower, is always, somehow, making a poem of its own.

~From Little Pictures of Japan, a collection of Japanese writings translated into English