Two days after the official opening of the ‘cherry blossom season’ in Japan, a row of Japanese trees came into full bloom outside Selwyn College, Cambridge, where I am a resident Fellow. In addition to many research institutes and academic departments the University of Cambridge comprises 31 colleges. The oldest, Peterhouse, was established in 1284. Within this venerable university, Selwyn, which was founded in 1882, is considered a ‘new’ college. A basic explanation might describe colleges as one’s dormitory or ‘home’ in contrast to the department as one’s ‘workplace’, although some colleagues do teach within the College walls. The ‘Selwyn sakura’ summarise this dual role for me as a familiar reminder of my life in Japan and academic mission.
a row of 一列の～、立ち並んだ～ / full bloom 満開 / resident 住み込みの、常駐の / Fellow (大学などの) 特別研究員 / in addition to ～に加えて / research institute 研究所、研究施設 / comprise ～から成る、構成される / within ～の中では、～のうちでは / venerable 古びて神々しい、由緒ある / found ～を設立する / consider A B AをBと見なす / explanation 説明 / describe A as B AをBと述べる、表現する / dormitory 寮、寄宿舎 / in contrast to ～と対照的に / colleague 同僚 / summarise A as B AをBと要約する、AをBの形で端的に示す / dual role 二役、二重の役割 / familiar 親しみのある / reminder 思い出させるもの / mission 任務、使命
Japanese cherry blossoms in bloom outside of Selwyn College (Courtesy of Mr Roger Mosey, Master of Selwyn College)
Growing up in northern England, it was the appearance of daffodils in the garden that signalled the beginning of Spring. Last week I visited the Lake District to mark the end of the academic term and enjoyed these yellow flowers in all their splendour. These are the landscapes and flowers that inspired William Wordsworth (1770-1850) when he wrote his most celebrated poem, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’. As I walked those same paths to gaze upon lakes and valleys, it seemed apt to remember that the Japanese word suisen comprises water, person, and mountain.
grow up in ～で育つ / appearance 姿、姿を見せること / daffodil ラッパズイセン / signal ～の前兆となる、～を示唆する / mark ～を記念する、祝う / academic term 学期 / splendour 壮観、華やかさ / landscape 景観、風景 / inspire ～に着想を与える、ひらめきを与える / William Wordsworth ウィリアム・ワーズワース (英国の代表的なロマン派詩人) / celebrated 有名な、名高い / wander さまよい歩く / path 小道、細道 / gaze upon ～を注視する、熟視する / seem apt to do ～しがちに思える、～する傾向があるように見える
“I wandered lonely as a cloud” by William Wordsworth (1815): https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45521/i-wandered-lonely-as-a-cloud
Left: View over Ullswater lake from Gowbarrow Fell (the area that inspired Wordsworth to write his poem)
Right: Daffodils in bloom outside of St Patrick’s Church, Patterdale
The ability of a single flower to conjure a season, mood or image recalls that distinctive feature of Japanese poetry known as ‘flower words’ (hanakotoba). Although the suisen is less common in tanka and haiku than the ume (plum) or sakura (cherry), it is used to evoke both the change of season and a sense of self-adoration or unrequited love. This second association derives from the story in Greek mythology of Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection in the water, and in English, too, Narcissus gives his name to the white flower related to the daffodil. Hence, when the great writer Natsume Sōseki (1867-1916) describes a “forlorn daffodil arranged on the mantelpiece” in his 1915 novel, The Tower of London, this image conveys the loneliness of the protagonist as a man of Meiji Japan in England. Although equally alone, one century earlier Wordsworth’s poetic voice “dances” with daffodils to celebrate the “bliss of solitude”. By tracing the echoes of a single flower through ancient myth, Japanese literature and English poetry, it becomes possible to appreciate the thematic connections that dance between them.
ability 能力 / conjure ～を思い浮かばせる、思い起こさせる / recall ～を思い出させる / distinctive 独特の、際立った / feature 特徴、特性 / evoke ～を想起させる、連想させる / self-adoration 自己崇拝、うぬぼれ / unrequited love 報われぬ恋、片思い / association つながり、連想 / derive from ～に由来する、～から派生する / Greek mythology ギリシャ神話 / Narcissus ナルキッソス / one's own reflection in ～に映った自分の姿 / (be) related to ～に関連している、関係している / hence それゆえ、このような訳で / forlorn 孤独な、わびしい / mantelpiece 炉棚 / The Tower of London『倫敦塔』/ convey ～を伝える、告げる / protagonist (物語などの) 主人公 / bliss 至福、無上の喜び / solitude 孤独 / trace ～の跡をたどる、～を突き止める / echo こだま、共鳴 (ナルキッソスに恋したニンフの名がechoの語源とされる) / ancient 古代の、古い / myth 神話 / appreciate ～を正しく理解する、正当に評価する/ thematic 主題の、テーマ上の