Over The Wintry

Over The Wintry

by Natsume Sōseki

Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow.

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Over The Wintry gives a traditional haiku in 5-7-5 form. This haiku presents a nature themed story wherein, during winter, the wind becomes angry and howls over the fact that the leaves have fallen and it cannot blow them.

I enjoy the depiction of an angry winter wind inasmuch as I often feel as though the cold air has a bit of malice in it (at least when it blows against me.)

Who is Natsume Sōseki?

Natsume Sōseki (夏目 漱石, 9 February 1867 – 9 December 1916), born Natsume Kin’nosuke (夏目 金之助), was a Japanese novelist. He is best known around the world for his novels KokoroBotchanI Am a CatKusamakura and his unfinished work Light and Darkness. He was also a scholar of British literature and writer of haikukanshi, and fairy tales. From 1984 until 2004, his portrait appeared on the front of the Japanese 1000 yen note.

Sōseki’s literary career began in 1903, when he began to contribute haiku, renku (haiku-style linked verse), haitaishi (linked verse on a set theme) and literary sketches to literary magazines, such as the prominent Hototogisu, edited by his former mentor Masaoka Shiki, and later by Takahama Kyoshi. However, it was the public success of his satirical novel I Am a Cat in 1905 that won him wide public admiration as well as critical acclaim.

He followed on this success with short stories, such as “Rondon tō” (“Tower of London”) in 1905 and the novels Botchan (“Little Master”), and Kusamakura (“Grass Pillow”) in 1906, which established his reputation, and which enabled him to leave his post at the university for a position with Asahi Shimbun in 1907, and to begin writing full-time. Much of his work deals with the relation between Japanese culture and Western culture. His early works in particular are influenced by his studies in London; his novel Kairo-kō was the earliest and only major prose treatment of the Arthurian legend in Japanese. He began writing one novel a year before his death from a stomach ulcer in 1916.Obverse of a 1984 series 1000 Japanese yen banknote

Major themes in Sōseki’s works include ordinary people fighting against economic hardship, the conflict between duty and desire (a traditional Japanese theme; see giri), loyalty and group mentality versus freedom and individuality, personal isolation and estrangement, the rapid industrialization of Japan and its social consequences, contempt of Japan’s aping of Western culture, and a pessimistic view of human nature. Sōseki took a strong interest in the writers of the Shirakaba (White Birch) literary group. In his final years, authors such as Akutagawa Ryūnosuke and Kume Masao became close followers of his literary style as his disciples

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