1 Le Hoang Yen

Walking back from Eaton Hall, I saw myriads of snow crystals along the pathway.

The streetlights

Sparkle the snow,

Against the cold wind.

After being introduced to the foundation of evanescence vs. form that Japanese culture has always been based on, the thought that struck me the most was how a certain object or a natural matter is best understood in terms of its direct presence without any effort to put a symbolic meaning behind it. The belief in “primeval totality as well as everything within it not as representations of kami but as kami” (Kitagawa, 45) signifies how Japanese people embrace and celebrate every aspect of their surroundings, as important additions to their enriched culture. This direct respect and an intimate connection to the natural world serve as an essential drive through which Japanese poems are written and perceived.  We can observe this through Japanese tanka, which aims to express “emotionally to a particular discreet moment” (Inouye, 13) to emphasize the beauty of a simple instant. Keeping a non-symbolic notion in mind, I start to slowly realize that images portrayed in their most original and sincere form in these poems can still create a powerful impact and connection on their readers.  

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