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Chimaki

    Though these are seedlings
of late-sown rice whose planting
    and growth were delayed,
it won't be fruitless to rely
upon these fruits of the field.

—29 October 2013

Original by Ôe no Chisato. Chimaki is sticky rice wrapped in bamboo or similar leaves and steamed, eaten for the festival of the Fifth of the Fifth Month (currently observed as the Dragon Boat Festival in China and Children's Day in Japan), giving something of an associative connection between topic and poem. Pivot-word: ta no mi = "fruit/grain of the field" / tanomi = "request/depend on." I replicate something of the doubling effect by rendering ada ni, "in vain," as "fruitless." It's possible to read this (by mishearing mi as refering to himself) as a lover's coded protestation of faithfulness, with the late growth being of the speaker's feelings. The original has interesting aliteration in the first three lines, which I couldn't reproduce.


nochimaki no
okurete ouru
nae naredo
ada ni wa naranu
tanomi to zo kiku


---L.

About

Warning: contents contain line-breaks.

As language practice, I was translating classical Japanese poetry -- most recently, book 11 (love part 1) of the Kokinshu anthology. This project is, however, on hiatus. Past translations are archived here. Suggestions, corrections, and questions always welcome.

There's also original pomes in the journal archives.

December 2014

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