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Master of Arts (M.A.)

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Kitahara Hakushū, Dōyō, Japanese Children's Poetry, Akai Tori, Twentieth Century Japanese Poetry, Children's Songs


In 1923, the poet Kitahara Hakushū wrote an essay entitled “Dōyō shikan” 童謡私観 or “Philosophy of Dōyō.” In it, he described a perspective on children that valued their innately creative potential. Hakushū felt that this potential was something that every child had and that could be enriched and drawn out through dōyō 童謡 (children's songs.) Hakushū’s views in this sense challenged the prevailing attitudes in the Taishō period toward children and toward the function that children’s songs and poetry should serve.

Despite Hakushū’s prominence as a poet, the “Dōyō shikan” has never been translated or closely analyzed in English. The analysis of the “Dōyō shikan” provides a lens through which to view Hakushū’s poetry for children. The principles that Hakushū described in this essay for writing dōyō can be seen both in Hakushū’s own work and the work of children who submitted poetry to Akai tori, a literary magazine for which Hakushū managed poetry. Those principles stressed the need for the poet to replicate the child’s voice, mind, and imagination for the purpose of writing dōyō that were creative, artistic, and meaningful to children.


First Advisor

Stephen M. Forrest