2 Wachtel Samuel

Samuel Wachtel

Nothing This Week

Buddha Mask

After my second week of thinking about As I Crossed a Bridge of Dreams, I started to find certain nihilist hedonism in the text. I believe it is a natural following from the evanescence of Sarashina’s world, and not necessarily a grim or negative quality. Professor Inouye asked in class whether, if we knew our transcripts would have someone else’s name on them, we would put in any effort. Most people said no. Sarashina describes her heartfelt grief over a death with the words “All day long I shook with weeping; then I noticed how the evening sun threw its brilliant light on the scattering blooms of the cherry tree, and I wrote the poem,

They will come back next Spring-those cherry blooms

That scatter from the tree.

But how I yearn for her who left

And never will return”

(Sarashina 54). This is immediately followed by Sarashina being given more reading material “and almost immediately my spirits improved” (Sarashina 54). Sarashina conceptualizes grief over the loss of others entirely in relation to her own sensual experiences. She has no conventional spiritual life: “I could never bring myself to pray sincerely […] I had no interest in such things” (Sarashina 71), instead wishing for seclusion in nature and a beautiful lover. She responds to her husband’s death with a sensuous wallowing in grief, “a weeping figure rolling on the floor” (Sarashina 119), follows this with a commentary on the clothing of her son, vague guilt over her lack of piety, and self-pity (Sarashina 119 and 121). Sarashina’s next two poems, “Do you suppose that I have left this world? Alas, I linger on in tears” and “How bright the moonlight shines, Although my eyes are ever fogged with tears” (Sarashina 122) further reflect the sensual and self-involved nature of her grief. Not once does she mention any traits of her dead husband, or fond memories, or anything outside of herself.

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