蝉の声・cicada’s cry


am-semi-det3

Originally uploaded by SOFennell

Basho wrote of the cicada’s cry more than once. That same sound is often heard in Japanese dramas and it’s either a literal reference to summer, or the end of it. It could also be a memento mori, a reference to the shortness of life. I’m never sure, when I’m engaged in a drama (on NHK) and am relieved to see that the reference is only seasonal (although it isn’t always the case.).

Merrily Baird (Symbols of Japan) says “the strident song of the cicada is considered emblematic of summer’ and his discarded shell is symbolic of  “the transitory and fragile nature of life.”

My ear is also tuned to these sounds during this hot, muggy season so I look forward to their first droning songs. They arrive early here, and continue until summer’s end. That’s when I first started this piece, at the end of last summer. It took nearly a year of picking it up and putting it down, completing most of it last year. I couldn’t however, decide on the technique for the last motif and finally decided on it this week. After that, it went quickly.

Shizukasa ya
Iwa ni shimi iru,
semi no koe
静かさや
岩にしみ入
蝉の声
The stillness —
penetrating the stones
The cicada’s cry.

Basho

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4 Responses to “蝉の声・cicada’s cry”

  1. neki rivera Says:

    basho, always basho!
    for me the cicadas convey more of japan than hanami

    • Susan Says:

      There is something about them, for sure. They’re around for the full season (at least their song is), in fact, as I pulled weeds this morning, I was hearing a few. And it is hot and humid here – mushi atsui.

  2. velma Says:

    this bug is delightful.

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