Sunday, 15 September 2013

lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Chinese bush-clover (karahagi)

    Though each empty husk
like cicada shells on trees
    rests in its coffin,
how sorrowful it is that
we can't see where the soul goes.

—25 July 2013

Original author unknown. While the meaning of topic is clear, it's uncertain which variety of bush-clover was considered Chinese at the time. Regardless, it's an early autumn topic. Pivot-word: ki is a "tree" and a "coffin," a double-meaning extended to the "husk" that's both the literal cicada shell and the empty bodies of the dead. The standard sentiment of second half does not live up to how well the first half works in the original. The effect isn't the same as leaving the bald last line unpolished in translation, but the let-down is similar.

utsusemi no
kara wa ki-goto ni
todomuredo
tama no yukue o
minu zo kanashiki



---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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