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    Swift as the water
down the Yoshino River,
    its waves high upon
the rocks -- so was my starting
to long for that person.

—16 November 2013

Original by Ki no Tsurayuki. A return to the the traditional manner of #469. How seriously should we take the claim that the lead editor didn't know why he wrote something? This is generally taken as evidence that "not known" often means "rather not say" (and it's sometimes speculated that a similar discretion may also apply to some of the "author unknown" attributions). Singular pivot-word (see #469): hayaku is "swiftly" for the water and for the speaker's falling in love -- the effect being an implied comparison, requiring just a couple additional English particles to render. "Starting to" uses an interesting idiom, somu, meaning literally to "dye" -- though it's a general-use auxiliary verb, the image of staining one's heart with longing is an overtone, one used more directly a few times later on. Here, however, the stain clashes with the tempestuous imagery, making it hard for this clever and polished assertion of passion to be convincing.


yoshinogawa
iwanami takaku
yuku mizu no
hayaku zo hito o
omoisometeshi


---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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