Archive for 4月, 2009


In which I talk about my second 漢詩. This one is by 柳宗元, who ranks along with 白居易 as one of the most famous Chinese poets and was most adept at poems dealing with nature. While short, 江雪 is a beautiful poem, evoking feelings of serenity and loneliness. It is also a good poem to use to describe the depth of 漢詩.

江雪 柳宗元

独 孤 万 千
釣 舟 径 山
寒 蓑 人 鳥
江 笠 蹤 飛
雪 翁 滅 絶


As we saw with the first poem, 白居易’s 香炉峰下、新卜山居、草堂初成、偶題東壁, some liberties are taken with the word order that would otherwise be more linear were it prose. Of course, this is a poem, so we wouldn’t have it any other way, now would we?

Some notes:
千山鳥飛絶万径人蹤滅 : 鳥や人の影の全く見えない、見渡す限りの雪景色
万径 ばんけい : 獣道などすべての道
人蹤 じんしょう : 足跡
蓑笠 さりゅう : みのかさ
翁 おう

The quiet calm of a snow-swept field untouched by man or beast, and the loneliness of a single man fishing, a black speck in a world of white. Indescribable feelings, summed up in twenty characters. Not bad, huh?

I did not explain the structure of 漢詩 poems last time, mainly due to length concerns, so I will do that here. There are two types of 漢詩, 古体詩 and 近体詩. Since this is a 近体詩, I will explain only that one here, and leave the 古体詩 for later.

There are six types of 近体詩, which sounds intimidating but this is really just a combination of two factors: the number of characters in each verse and the number of verses. In 近体詩, there are only two possibilities as to the number of characters, 五言(五言) and 七言(七言). As for verses, there are three possibilities, 絶句 (four), 律詩 (eight), and 排律 (ten plus). Furthermore, being that poems were originally meant to be sung, rhyming is usually found. As a general rule, the even-numbered verses end in rhyming characters (音読) for 五言 and the first verse + even-numbered verses for 七言. At risk of putting anyone to sleep, just one last thing: the composition of 漢詩 usually takes the 起承転結 form.


Applying the above, let’s take another look at 江雪. Firstly and most obviously, we can tell that this is a 五言絶句 because there are five characters per verse + four verses. As for the rhyme, it’s 五言, so we need only look at the second and fourth verses: 滅+雪, right? If we look closely, we see we get a freebie with 絶 at the beginning.

You may have also noticed the structural significance of the poem. For example, 滅絶 and 独孤 turned around are 絶滅 and 孤独. Adds a whole new dimension, huh?



My posting has been sporadic lately. It’s that I’ve started school again, so my free time is now much more limited.

So I figured in the spirit of school starting back up again, I would post the first part of 孔子’s 論語. 論語 is a compilation of 孔子’s exchanges with his peers and followers. It is a call to arms to live a certain way of life, which, coincidentally, is how 孔子 lived his life.



子 し: Up until now, we have seen 子 used as a second-person pronoun, 「あなた」. However, 子 is also a respectful title for a man, like 孔子, whose real name was 丘(きゅう) and 字(あざな) was 仲尼(ちゅうじ).
学而時習之: While this seems to be saying the same thing twice in a row, 学 means to learn something new, 習 means to review something you’ve already learned. So, 新しいことを学んでたまにこれを復習すること.
説: Many times in 漢文, a character is used that means something entirely different from what the translation says it does. Earlier, I covered 汝 and its variants. Likewise, the 音 of 説 is similar to 悦(えつ), the meaning here.
不亦: This is a construction that tells us it is both 反語形 and 詠嘆形. In other words, 不亦説乎 means 「なんとうれしいことではないか」
人不知而不慍: 自分の学問は世間に認められなくても怒らない//恨まない。 不慍 can also be read うらみず.
君子: There are two meanings to 君子, though it usually is used in one sense, and that is “a great man of learning and virtue.” It also means a king, 君主. According to 孔子, a 君主 must be a 君子, though a 君子 may not ever become a 君主.

One more time, 子曰、学而時習之、不亦説乎、有朋自遠方来、不亦楽乎、人不知而不慍、不亦君子乎、

The joy of learning something new and, through review, understanding it. The fun of gathering with friends to learn together. And, though your work might not be recognized by the world at large, not holding a grudge, is that which makes a man great.

孔子, himself, though he had many followers and was a great philosopher and educator, was not accepted by the kings he philosophized to. Despite this, he did not get angry, because learning is not for fame and profit, but for the enrichment of one’s character.

The title of this blog is, in fact, taken from this part, because it’s true. Even with translations and the 書き下し文 all written out for me,  understanding 漢文 is hard. But, through review and careful consideration, it actually does begin to make sense. And that’s a good feeling. Likewise, studying with friends is fun and, more importantly, deepens relationships. 孔子’s words are true and timeless.


使役形: ~をして~しむ

Studying a new story the other day, I came across another form of the 使役形 I hadn’t studied in any other book, so I decided to bring it here.

I’ve mentioned it in passing in other posts, but that doesn’t really do justice to what is a fairly complex construction. First, the most basic form of 使役形 is A使BC, where A is the subject, B is the object, and C is the verb. It is read A、BをしてCせしむ. ~しむ is a classical Japanese 助動詞 to specify 使役形 must like ~させる in modern Japanese, and attaches to the 未然形. There is one more form of 使役形 in 古典 (~す・~さす), but 漢文 is only read with ~しむ.

Some examples:
1.天帝使我長百獣 天帝我をして百獣に長たらしむ, where ~たらしむ is ~たり(断定)+しむ. You can read 長 however you like, I suppose, though most books read (this particular example) as ちょう. You might feel the urge to get fancy in 漢文 sometimes, but it is often unnecessary. I’d go so far as to say, when in doubt, stick with the 音読 (it being Chinese and all). 因みに, this is from the 虎の威を借る狐 allegory, which I will do some day.
2.Very often, A is abbreviated, as in the following. 使天下無以古非今 天下をして古を以て今を非とすること無からしむ.
3. In addition to 使, there are at least 4 other 漢字 used to signify 使役 that are read ~をして: 令・教・遣・俾. With the exception of 俾, which appears to be uncommon, if not rare, the others seem somewhat common and there is usually a nuance of the original meaning of the character used.
諸例:イ)遂教方士慇懃覓 遂に方士をして慇懃(いんぎん)に覓(もと)めしむ。(教える)ロ)遣人随其往尋向所誌 人をしてその往くに随(したが)ひ向(さき)に誌(しる)せし所に尋ねしむ。(遣はす)ハ)令将軍与臣有郤 将軍をして臣と郤有らしむ。(令す)ニ)匪用其良、覆俾我悖 その良を用ゐるに匪(あら)ず、覆って我をして悖らしむ。*現代語訳 below.

In addition to the ~をして construction, there are 漢字 that have an inherent 使役 meaning, and as such the 文 takes the 使役形. One usually figures it out through context, but here are some below:
イ)命 A名BC A、Bに命じてCせしむ(命令する)
ロ)召 A召BC A、Bを召してCせしむ(召し寄せる)
ハ)説 A説BC A、Bに説きてCせしむ(説得する)
ニ)勧 A勧BC A、Bに勧めてCせしむ(勧める) 例:勧斉伐燕
ホ)遣 A遣BC A、Bに遣はしてCせしむ  This character can be read either ~をして or ~を遣はして depending on context)
ヘ)挙 A挙BC A、Bを挙げてCせしむ(挙用する)
ト)駆 A駆BC A、Bを駆りてCせしむ(追い立てる) 例:駆其所愛子弟以殉之 (その愛する所の子弟を駆りて以て之に殉ぜしむ)
チ)趣 A趣BC A、Bを趣(うなが)してCせしむ 例:趣火来上(火を趣して来(きた)り上さしめ

Just some examples. There are, of course, other examples where there is no indicator (例:坐之堂下、賜僕妾之食 これを堂下に坐せしめ、僕妾(ぼくしょう)の食を賜ふ), so, like everything in 漢文, there is no hard-set rule.




I thought, in a change of pace, I would do my first poem today. In contrast to 漢文, they are called 漢詩, and since it’s my first, I might as well do one of the most famous poems by one of the most famous poets.

香炉峰下、新卜山居、草堂初成、偶題東壁 by 白居易 (Note it is read vertically)

故 心 司 匡 香 遺 小 日
郷 泰 馬 廬 炉 愛 閣 高
何 身 仍 便 峰 寺 重 睡
独 寧 為 是 雪 鐘 衾 足
在 是 送 逃 撥 欹 不 猶
長 帰 老 名 簾 枕 怕 慵
安 処 官 地 看 聴 寒 起


香炉峰: The northern peak of Mount Lushan (廬山), which appears often in 漢詩. By the way, a 香炉 is an incense burner.
卜 ぼくシ: Here, to find land suitable to live on.
草堂: A grass-thatch home. 庵(いおり)
偶 たまたま: Sometimes written 隅々
題東壁: It was common practice for poets to write poems on the walls of their homes (or their friends’ homes).
慵 ものうシ: 気だるい
小閣: A small two-story home. A 閣 is a building of two or more stories.
衾 ふすま: 掛け布団
不怕寒 かんヲおそレず
遺愛寺: A temple to the north of 香炉峰.
欹枕 まくらヲそばだテテ: Prop up the pillow.
香炉峰雪撥簾看 こうろほうノゆきハすだれヲかかゲテみル: This is a famous line, made so by its appearance in 枕草子. (雪のいと高う降りたるを、例ならず御格子まゐりて、炭櫃に火おこして、物語などして集まり侍ふに、「少納言よ、香炉峰の雪いかならむ。」と仰せらるれば、御格子上げさせて、御簾を高く上げたれば、笑はせ給ふ。) It shows us how big 漢詩 and 漢文 were in Heian Japan.
匡廬 きょうろ: A different name for 廬山.
便是 すなわチこレ: すなわち~である. 是れ means である here.
逃名地 なヲのがルルノち: A place fit for escaping secular pursuits of fame and fortune.
司馬 しば:When 白居易 wrote this poem, he had just been demoted to a 司馬, a sinecure position, in 815.
仍為 なホ たリ(二~一): つまり~である
心泰身寧 こころやすクみやすキハ: Why are these read やすし? Don’t forget about 安泰 and 安寧.
故郷何独在長安 こきょうなんゾひとリちょうあんニあルノミナランヤ: This is known as 累加形. 反語形の「何ぞ~んや」 and 限定形の「独り~のみ」 combine to mean どうしてただ~だけであろうか (いや、それだけではない). “Why should 長安 be my only hometown?”

It’s a nice poem, huh? We’ve all had these moments, where we wake up and are perfectly content with life, not worrying about the day ahead of us. Funny, these days usually seem to be in the winter when we are bundled up in our covers.

白居易 (はくきょい), 字:楽天, is perhaps the most famous of the 漢詩 poets. He started writing poems around five or six years old and began to serve the court when he was 29. At 44, he exceeded his power and made a direct appeal to the emperor and, as a result, was demoted to 司馬 (which is what this poem is about). In this poem, particularly in the verse, 匡廬便是逃名地, we can clearly see 白居易’s life view. He also wrote many poems criticizing the government satirically.