BD. Edmund Blunden

70. Records of Friendship: Occasional and Epistolary Poems Written During Visits to Kyushu. Compiled and edited by T. Nakayama. Fukuoka: Kyushu UP, 1950.

Blunden writes in a prologue that he does not greatly regret the fact that in English ‘we have hardly . . . a verse form which might suit all the instances of social and friendly addresses’, but that in his visits to Kyushu with Nakayama those friends he met often ‘urged [him] to leave with them some poetical souvenir’. That he was always willing and able to comply has lastingly endeared him to the Japanese, and in fact marks the greatest similarity between Blunden as poet and the classical verse tradition of Japan. Occasional verse may not be particularly highly-regarded in the English tradition—though Blunden notes here examples in Shelley, Coleridge, Lamb, Tennyson and others—but in Japan the spontaneous poem about a newly-met landscape is conventional, as Blunden notes in his ‘[fancy] . . . that Bashô [Ap] writes them most graciously, as he journeys’. In his many Japanese ‘impromtus’, then, largely collected in this volume, 71, and 160, Blunden adopts a poetic stance well-honoured in Japan. He admits that ‘these expressions of feeling do not usually challenge the summits of poetry’, but one may hardly fault the graciousness and willing acceptance of a role that many would find impossible to fulfil. The work was printed in an edition of 200. Reprints From the Japanese Inn Window (65), Moji on the Sea (66), and Sakurajima (67). Dates noted are in 1949.

a. To Claire. Loving lines to Blunden’s wife about an upcoming journey to Kyushu. Margi-chan (l. 14): reference to the Blundens’ daughter, Margaret; ‘chan’ is an affectionate Japanese suffix used when referring to children.

b. To a Waltonian in Kyushu. The ‘Waltonian’ according to a note is T. Nakayama. The poem speculates about what the speaker and the ‘Waltonian’ might do had they been born centuries past and ‘could have passed a month or so / With Walton’ himself. Dated 16 February.

c. A Modest Scholar. In ‘seventeenth-century measure’ wishes the scholar Maekawa Shunichi ‘health and leisure’.

d. On a Fly-Leaf of Chaucer’s Wyf of Bathe. A quatrain originally written ‘in T. Nakayama’s book, with best wishes and remembrances’, 12 February.

e To Mrs Hirai of Kikusui Hotel. Assures Mrs. Hirai that ‘should we wander hence the whole world round, / This house will be among our brightest places’, 16 February.

f. To Kikue-san. Expression of thanks to the host of the Kikusui Hotel in Fukuoka, 16 February.

g. A Scholar. Warm good wishes to Shinomiya Kenichi, written at the Kikusui Hotel, Fukuoka, 16 February.

h. Evening on the River. Lines about Japanese fishermen, for Shinomiya Kenichi, Kikusui Hotel, Fukuoka, 8 October.

i. Nature Rebels. A ‘memento’ about a storm, to Mori Katsuhiko, Fukuoka, 8 October.

j. Lecturing. The speaker hopes in his lecture to ‘give [the] students that for which they [yearn]’; dedicated to the President of Saga University, Hisamatsu Nishi, 10 October.

k. The Dean. A friendly couplet to Dean Shimaji Takeo of Saga University, 10 October.

l. And Still, the Dean. A quatrain for a second Saga University Dean, Y. Uchida, 10 October.

m. Railway Journey. Hopeful lines set in motion by the journey of the title, dedicated to Matsua Kaizô, Saga, 9 October.

n. Saga Memory. Kind words for a Miss Tomioka, 9 October. A note by Claire Blunden remarks about the beautiful collection of china at Dr. Tomioka’s home.

o. A Signature: A. Mizunoe, September 13, 1934. Apparently written in response to seeing Mizunoe’s signature—perhaps on a letter—for the first time in fifteen years, Saga, 9 October.

p. Nagasaki Old and New. Brief lines in praise of ‘the gate of old Japan, where her modern life began’, for Gotô Takeshi, 12 October.

q. In Nagasaki Harbour. The speaker ‘felt wholly quiet and content’ on an outing in the harbour, where his companion ‘talked of things gone by’. To Itô Yutarô, 12 October.

r. English Studies. Remembrances of an evening in which the speaker enjoyed his companion’s ‘words and learning’ and ‘command / Of the finer thought of Shakespeare’s land’. To Norita Rikita, 12 October.

s. The Teacher. Warm good wishes to Ueda Katsu, 12 October.

t. The Art Student’s Other Career. A quatrain for Kiya Ikuhiro, ‘with best thanks for his portrait of Edmund Blunden’, 12 October. The ‘other career’ is physician: an editor’s note identifies the addressee as a Nagasaki High School student who had presented Blunden with a sketch he had done during the lecture; when Blunden questioned him about his future plans he said he would become a doctor.

u. A Sabbath. A ‘memento’ for S. Totoki, 16 October, about a visit to a cemetery and garden that an editor’s note identifies as the Hosokawa Garden in Kumamoto.

v. Symposium. Recollections of the members of the symposium lead the speaker to perceive ‘the same / Good world we used to know’. For Matsuyama Bunji, Miyazaki, 22 October.

w. The Soldier’s Burden. To Kojima Nobuyuki, Miyazaki, 22 October, who according to internal evidence in the poem bore with him throughout the war a collection of British poetry, which according to the speaker ‘lessened . . . / The weight of that sad time’. An editor’s note says the poem was written in a copy of Palgrave’s Golden Treasury.

x. RinkÔtei. A bidding adieu and well wishing to ‘good friends’. An editor’s note identifies Rinkôtei as the hotel in Miyazaki at which the Blundens stayed.

y. To Chieko-san. A quatrain for the mistress of the Rinkôtei Hotel, who according to an editor’s note showed the Blundens ‘many of the beautiful and uncommon treasures which the [hotel] preserves from the Japan of the daimyô age’.

z. The Autumn Moment. A ‘fragment of farewell’ for Morioka Sakae, 25 October.

aa. At the Departure from Kyushu. Four stanzas in praise of Kyushu and the ‘old friend’ the speaker leaves behind there, ‘tend[ing] well the hopes of new Japan’, for Nakayama, 25 October. An editor’s note identifies the place of composition as the Kamenoi Hotel in Beppu, the poem written ‘within an hour of the ship’s leaving for Kobe’.





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