BD. Edmund Blunden
160. Poems on Japan: Hitherto Uncollected and Mostly Unprinted. Compiled and edited by Takeshi Saitô. Tokyo: Kenkyusha, 1967.
Another sizeable volume of Blunden’s occasional verse on Japanese subjects (see also, especially, 70 and 71), published in May in commemoration of his seventieth birthday, in an edition of 150. 50 were presented to Blunden, 100 reserved for distribution in Japan. A trade edition of 500 followed in June. An editorial note says the poems are compiled by an ‘admirer’ of Blunden (Saitô, Ap) who ‘is proud of their friendship of more than forty years’ standing’. Reprints A Song for Kwansei (60), For Tokyo Joshi Daigaku: A Hymn (formerly College Song, For Tokyo Joshi Daigaku, 72), Flowers of the Rock (76a), Books (77), The King’s Arms, KOBE (formerly THE KING’S ARMS HOTEL, 86), To Mr and Mrs Hani (94), At Harihan (113), For the Education Institute of Aichi Prefecture (129), In Honour of the Royal Couple (135), Mr. Collins at Miyajima (136), It Shall be Written (140), Translated from the Japanese of H. M. Empress Nagako (formerly On Blood Transfusion, 142), Prologue to Taming of the Shrew (154), and Written in the Women’s Christian College (155). See also 183.
a. Up, Up!. Sixteen lines about Japan’s hopes in Rugby, according to an editorial note written for Kayama Shigeru, author of a Japanese-language study of the sport.
d. The way was long, the church was cold. A quatrain about Saitô’s attendance at a church service in England; an editorial note identifies the speaker and two companions as ‘three sometime luminaries of the Parish Church, Stansfield, Suffolk’. Dated 1925.
e. To see my scribbled pages thus enshrined. Six lines that according to a note Blunden inscribed on an offprint of an article he had written in 1931 and presented to Saitô, who had it ‘bound in morocco and paper’. Takeshi (l. 6): Saitô. Dated 29 March 1948.
f. Three poems for Nakamura Yukichi. Nakamura was a librarian at the City Library of Osaka and for many years a friend of Blunden (see also ab, ap, and aw below). This work is an inscription and three poems that according to a note were written by Blunden in Nakamura’s copy of the Blunden issue of The Augustan Books of Modern Poetry (see 1), 26 April 1948, 30 March 1955, 15 June 1959, and 3 September 1960. All are brief lines about the blessings of friendship renewed.
i. Here Bunyan finds a home, a house of learning. Lines playing on the idea that John Bunyan would have been surprised to find that his work had travelled so far as Japan. A note identifies the place of composition as the home of Taketomo Torao (see also b above) near Kobe, 18 May 1948.
j. Another war has thundered through those plains. ‘And many graves besides my old friends’ graves / Are waiting now for dark November rains’. For Y. Abe. Written, according to a note, on the flyleaf of a Japanese edition of Undertones of War (19), 30 September 1948.
l. Takamatsu Countryside. A quatrain in praise of the Shikoku landscape, written according to a note for Hôki Kanji after Blunden’s lecture at Takamatsu.
m. Return to Japan. Closing lines fairly summarise Blunden’s post-war reaction to the Japan to which he has returned: ‘Then let me pray for grace, / Now in Japan / To see each place / With open eye; to scan // The sweet recaptured scene, / The field and farm, / . . . smiling and serene’. For Sarashina Genzô, ‘a memento of [a] happy evening at Sapporo’, Autumn 1948.
n. To Koichi Nakane. The yew tree standing beside an ‘eastern house’ has seen its ‘quiet age’ suffer ‘from a desperate rage’, but in the ‘kind house all’s as before’, and ‘as the dark red-berried yew / Unites the vanished with the new, // So our good Host’s warm welcome mends / All defects, and makes perfect friends’, 18 September 1948.
o. Going to a Lecture. The ‘lecture’ is the ‘chant[ing]’ of small birds in a pastoral scene. For S. Kashiwagura, Sapporo, 20 September 1948.
p. For a Water-Colour by Y. Noguchi. Seven lines in description of the painting of the title, 23 September 1948. Noguchi (see D15) had died the previous year.
q. Among the Lakes the Painter finds his bliss. A quatrain for S. Uenoyama, ‘with admiration’, September 1948.
r. So have you lived, that finer life may be. A quatrain for a Mr. Kan,‘with . . . best thanks for his interest in a visitor to Sapporo’, September 1948.
s. This is a scene that from my early years. A quatrain for ‘Mr. Nosei, with gratitude for his painting of a corner of Sapporo’, September 1948.
u. Forget the winter’s tooth; the merry flames leap. Three occasional lines for H. Momose, 28 December 1949.
v. A Glimpse. Brief description of a quiet courtyard, for Tomomura Kichinosuke, Curator of the Kurashiki Folkcrafts Museum, 25 February 1950.
w. Outside, the night, the lamps of distant farms. Six lines of friendship to Nose Toshi, Okayama, 24 February 1950.
x. To T. Kitamura. Lines to a friend who ‘encouraged’ by Blunden had studied English literature as a young man, 25 February 1950.
y. Gate to Poetry. Lines ‘To Arata Mitsuoka on his Anthology’, from internal evidence an anthology of poetry, 25 February 1950. See also aj below.
z. There may be nights to come when I shall need. A triplet that according to a note was inscribed in a book owned by Fukuhara Rintarô (Ap) following his introduction of Blunden at a lecture, 12 March 1950.
ab. For Yukichi Nakamura. Nakamura (see f above) has quoted Shelley, and Blunden believes that were that poet alive ‘He must have hastened to Japan / And sung the country’s praise’, 3 April 1955.
ad. How soon these little girls run round the lovely lake. A couplet for ‘Yanagisawa-san’, 3 April 1955.
ae. A Thought of H.I.H. Prince Chichibu. Lines in memory of the Showa Emperor’s younger brother, who had studied at Oxford. Chichibu no Miya Yasuhito (1902-53) was the second son of the Taishô Emperor, who during the 1930s was widely believed to be sympathetic to extremist factions in the Imperial Army. The references to athletic events in the poem allude to his post-war role as head of various athletic organisations. Dated 1956.
af. On a Picture of H.I.H. Prince Chichibu. More honorific lines about Chichibu no Miya Yasuhito (see ae), to Princess Chichibu with the ‘affectionate respects’ of Blunden and his wife, Claire, 17 June 1956.
ag. Many words may never find. Six lines that ‘convey / our heart to you the Japanese way’, for Mutô Katsuo, June 1956.
aj. A. Mitsuoka’s verse should be. A poem has been called for at a ‘celebration’ and the speaker believes it should be Mitsuoka’s lines ‘here written’, but Mitsuoka has deferred to Blunden, 18 June 1959. See also y above.
ak. If Robert Burns were in Japan. A quatrain apparently written at an event sponsored by the Suntory brewery, which the speaker assures would be praised by Burns if he were able, Osaka, 14 June 1959.
al. Even Many Years have now become still More. A quatrain about the passing if time, originally inscribed in Saitô’s copy of Poems of Many Years (125), 22 June 1959.
an. Michio Masui. Brief lines about the pursuit of ‘high romance’ after she has ‘desert[ed] the paths of men’, 19 June 1959. Masui was a Chaucer scholar at Hiroshima and a close friend of Blunden.
ao. For Yoshitaka Sakai. A quatrain for one of several students Blunden taught at the Imperial University in the twenties who went on to become a major figure in Japanese English literary studies, 29 June 1959. See also 179e.
ap. Yours is the modern Castle of Osaka. The ‘modern castle’ of the title is a library, where a ‘you’ is ‘lord of many regiments’. For Nakamura (see f above), September 1960.
aq. A Small Offering. The speaker notes that at Hôryûji ‘all the world agrees / Are many glories’, but suggests that the ‘truest’ of them all are ‘those . . . who serve the temple night and day’. For ‘the Very Rev. Mr Kentyu [Kenryû?]’, 6 September 1960.
at. The sea hath its pearls. Lines translated from a Latin triplet by Heinrich Heine, which Blunden’s note reports are ‘written for a poet of Japan, Chiaki Ishii (see also au), by one who has enjoyed his perfect liberality’. An editor’s note adds that the lines were ‘translated just before [Blunden’s] embarkation, at Yokohama, 16 September 1963’.
au. What rarities you set before us. Six lines in praise of the work of Ishii Chiaki (see also at), 7 August 1963.
av. Keiko commanded, and we met. A jingle about a symposium in which ‘Truth and Beauty seemed to rule’, to Keiko Hani ‘and friends of Fujin no Tomo in thanks for [the] Symposium of 10 August 1963’. Hani Keiko (b. 1908) succeeded her mother, Hani Motoko, as principal of the Jiyû gakuen. See notes about Fujin no tomo, Hani Motoko, and the Jiyû gakuin at 94.
aw. To Yukichi Nakamura (see f above). Eight lines about friendship, 27 August 1963.
ay. To Mr ItÔ, Mayor of Matsushima. The poem notes the ‘Many . . . poems offered through the years’ to the ‘much-loved city’, and describes the dedication of stone tablets with verses by Blunden and Shiratori Seigo on a hilltop overlooking the ‘sacred wood’, 29 August 1963.
az. Seigo Shiratori at Matsushima. Lines to Shiratori about the stone tablets with their ‘eulogies together set’ at Matsushima (see 58), 29 August 1963.
ba. The Summer Journey. The longest poem in the collection recalls Blunden’s 1963 journey to Japan, when ‘long delightful days at last / Were merging with the distant past’.