Late Autumn Thoughts

As autumn deepens
Morning cold raises thick fog
Then desolate rain
Departing geese show the way
Time for deep contemplationSugawara no Tokihira

Liner notes:

Most of this poem is self-explanatory – common events in late autumn that, to me at least, have a vague sense of melancholy.  Keep in mind that the autumnal equinox is the middle of the Japanese season.  Autumn, then, is effectively August, September, and October.  One thing that does require explanation: South is the direction the emperor faces when on his throne.  The underlying message is that as autumn comes to an end, we need to start to prepare for the coming winter by governing our actions wisely.  The repetition of key words (“deep” in this case) is a common technique.

The form is waka, Japanese in origin with a 5-7-5-7-7 pattern of syllables.  Composed 16th day of 9th month, AS XLVI.


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