One Hundred Poems from the Japanese

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One Hundred Poems From The Japanese, compiled and translated by Kenneth Rexroth, provides insight into the themes used by traditional Japanese poets. Reading the compilation gives a western audience a chance to escape from the themes presented in western poetry, transporting them to the world of eastern themes and values. One Hundred Poems From The Japanese proves once again that humans are influenced by their surroundings. The reoccurring themes in Kenneth Rexroth's compilation show clear evidence of Japanese influence and distinguish themselves from the themes of Western poems. The poems in One Hundred Poems From The Japanese contain several common themes, but all of those themes tend to surround mountains and their many meanings in the lives of the Japanese. Among all the reoccurring themes in One Hundred Poems From The Japanese, mountains must be the most common. The magnificent and powerful grace of mountains has left an impression on Japanese poets and their work. Of course this makes sense, because mountains cover about two thirds of Japan. Several themes in the poems including love, and snow are coupled with the theme of mountains and what they mean. Yamabe No Akahito's poem, “I passed by the beach, At Tago and saw The snow falling, pure white, High on the peak of Fuji,” (Rexroth 3) couples themes of snow and mountains to express what mountains symbolize in his life. Akahito uses mountains as a symbol for a distant destination that he hopes to reach. Since the top of the mountain is pure and white, he may feel that he has not reached the required level of purity in his life to reach such a place. Izumi shares a similar use of mountains as Akahito. His poem, “I go out of the darkness Onto a road of darkness Lit only by the far off Moon on the edge of the mountains,” (Rexroth 35) also depicts a mountain as a place light and a distance. Other

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