Kokinshu #470

Saturday, 16 November 2013 09:04
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
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    I, just hearing rumors,
and white dew on chrysanthemums --
    we arise by night,
by day can't endure longing
in her sun and waste away.

—8-15 November 2013

Original by Sosei. In direct contrast to the previous, this is a highly wrought poem in the epitome of the Kokinshu manner, with two or three pivot-words. The clear ones are kiku meaning "hear" / "chrysanthemum," which joins the introductory first line to the rest, and okite meaning "settle" (for the dew) / "wake" (for the speaker). The disputed one is omo(h)i = "longing" / hi = "sun," which if accepted results in two simultaneous readings of the last three lines: "(dew) settles at night and, in the day, cannot last in the sun and vanishes" and "(I) am awake at night and, in the day, cannot last these longings and waste away." Despite the complication this creates (and that it means redundantly including both "by day" and "the sun"), the implied comparison feels like the heart of the poem, so I stretched for that at the expense of literal accuracy. This starts a series of poems of love "before seeing," provoked by reports of the beloved -- courtly decorum required ladies not show their faces to any men outside their family, making rumors of her all but required to start the ball rolling, especially on the man's side. (I'll try to point out the persona when not obvious, such as when different from the writer, but I may forget -- for example, in the previous poem, the speaker could be either gender.)


oto ni nomi
kiku no shiratsuyu
yoru wa okite
hiru wa omoi ni
aezu kinubeshi


---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.

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