Ton'a

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Ton'a

Ton'a (頓阿, 12891372), also read as Tonna; lay name Nikaidō Sadamune 二階堂貞宗. A Japanese Buddhist poet, student of Nijō Tameyo. Ton'a took a tonsure at Enryaku-ji Temple, but was later associated with the Ji sect 時宗 (founded by Ippen). He looked up to Saigyō's poetic genius. Here are two of his most well-known poems:

naku semi no
koe mo hitotsu ni
hibikite
matsu kage suzushi
yama no takitsuse

Crying cicadas
are in one voice with the sound
that reverberates
cool, in the shade of the pines
from a mountain cascade. [1]

ne ni tatete
nageku wa nani zo
utsusemi no
munashiki yo to wa
shiranu mono ka wa

Just what can it be
that makes them cry so loudly?
But, ah, of course: cicadas would know
how empty is this world
of the cicada shell. [2]

Notes

  1. Carter, Steven D. Traditional Japanese Poetry : an Anthology. Stanford, CA, USA: Stanford University Press, 1991. p 255. ISBN   9780804715621
  2. The shell shed by the cicada was a conventional symbol for ephemerality. Adapted from Carter, Steven D. Just Living : Poems and Prose of the Japanese Monk Tonna. New York, NY, USA: Columbia University Press, 2003. p 133. ISBN   9780231125529

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