In Edo, at the beginning of 1844, an obscure provincial scholar welcomed the New Year with a verse in Chinese, the language he preferred for poetry.
Now, for the very first time, at the age of thirty-eight,¹
I greet the New Year in this vast city.
The castle gate, guarded by willows, hides its secrets,
So too, brandishing their pines, do the mansions of the lords.
Free of distractions, my thoughts turn fondly to my family.
Fervently, facing west, I pray they may be safe.²
It is a dejected poem, and no wonder. Hirose Kyokusō, its author, was indeed stranded...