Shakaiei (社会詠)

Shakaiei is a type of tanka as well as a haiku. It refers to poetry themed on the society in which people live and the recognition of society. Concept of classifying the subjects of tanka and contrasts with the field of shizenei which incorporates elements of nature such as mountains, rivers, plants and trees as well as flower, birds, the wind and the moon.

The history of shakaiei

Well known shakaiei include the proletariat tanka of the latter half of the 1920s, post-war 'jinmin tanka' (people's tanka) poems which were 'based on life experiences of the general public,' poems based on the 'rokuju-nen anpo' (Japan-U.S. Security Treaty of 1960), and post 1965 poems about the Vietnam War. Since the 1970s in which Japanese society achieved rapid economic growth, it became very difficult to raise incidents directly through shakaiei. Current mainstream shakaiei consists of introvert poetic composition that raises problems arising from the strain of modern society.

Examples of shakaiei

Akagami no Hyoshi Tezureshi Kokkin no Fumi wo Kori no Soko ni Sagasu Hi' (lit. The day I searched the bottom of my trunk for the state-banned book with the well-worn red cover) (Takuboku ISHIKAWA)
Takuboku believed his economic problems were caused by society, developed an interest in the socialist ideology and would immerse himself in books that had been banned by the state. This can be said to be a forerunner of seikatsuei (poems about everyday life) type shakaiei.

Shokojo ni Sansoyosetsu no Hiramekidachi Sunamachi Shijucho Yoru Nara Mutosu' (lit. The flames of oxygen welding are seen in a small factory, night will descend on the forty blocks of Sunamachi) (Fumiaki TSUCHIYA). This original shakaiei was devoted to those who work hard in small factories from early in the morning until late at night as well as the common people working in these areas.

Yo wo Ageshi Shiso no Naka ni Mamorikite Imakoso Sensowo Nikumu Kokoro yo' (lit. My hatred for war, on which I place great value against the prevailing ideology of the world, is very precious now) (Yoshimi KONDO). The sharp eye and fresh lyricism of Kondo, who admired Marxism when he was young and who also came into contact with Christianity, are ideally suited for someone who can be said to be poet of the social school of thought.

[Original Japanese]