BH. John Gould Fletcher: Primary Materials

1. From the Japanese. In Visions of the Evening. London: MacDonald, 1913.

    Reprinted in Irradiations, Sand and Spray.  

In May 1913 Fletcher himself financed publication of five volumes of his verse, issued from four publishers in London. None of the work is memorable—Fletcher himself destroyed unsold volumes during the First World War—but the six poems in this section represent his first traceable use of Japanese materials, or, better put, pseudo-Japanese materials, since as Fletcher himself admitted thirty-two years later in ‘The Orient and Contemporary Poetry’ (15), the ‘substance’ of the work is not ‘from the Japanese’ at all. Still, by 1913 Fletcher had read Japanese verse in the English translation of Hearn (see 15) and the German and French of, probably, Florenz and Revon (D11 and D21, see 22c), and these poems demonstrate superficial likenesses. Each is brief, two or three lines; the second and fifth include ‘season words’ (kigo), and the fourth is vaguely ‘Japanese’ in its mood of resignation and juxtaposition of a particular natural image with a general philosophical observation. Beyond this the work is strikingly unlike any in Japanese literary history. Reprinted in 2 and 20.





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