Thursday, 8 August 2013

Kokinshu #431

Thursday, 8 August 2013 07:04
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Ogatama tree (ogatama no ki)

    Did they see the foam
that bubbles up in the falls
    of Yoshino,
of beautiful Yoshino,
as gems that vanish away?

—8 July 2013

Original by Ki no Tomonori. Just like the three mysterious birds, there are three mysterious plants of the Kokinshu where it's uncertain what the archaic name refers to -- and the ogatama is one of them. From contemporary descriptions, we know it's an evergreen tree with long, broad leaves and white flowers in late spring -- probably a type of magnolia. And speaking of archaisms, the repetition of mi-yoshino no yoshino no recalls that of #3, giving this an old-fashioned manner. Exactly who sees and when are both ambiguous (the auxiliary verb tsu can indicate a perfective or a continuing state), and while a present seeing is less grammatically strained, Yoshino's evocation as the site of a former imperial pleasure palace suggests it's a question about the past. That the latter makes the conceit less trite does not actually argue in its favor, given Tomonori's notable lack of originality.


miyoshino no
yoshino no taki ni
ukabi'izuru
awa o ka tama no
kiyu to mitsuramu


----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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