Friday, 11 October 2013

lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Written on the day spring started in a place called Karakoto.

    As of this morning,
the sounds of waves that can be
    picked out and heard --
might it be the melody
of springtime has been renewed?

—4 October 2013

Original by Abe no Kiyoyuki. Born in 825, Kiyoyuki was a Chinese scholar (his writing style apparently influenced Sugawara no Michizane's) and middling courtier who seems to have spent most of his time until 871 in the capital, after which he served in various provincial posts and governancies until his death in 900. He has two poems in the Kokinshu, the other which (#556) is a flirtation sent to Ono no Komachi. (His daughter also has a poem, #1055.) ¶ The third group of topics are all place names, organized by a general but not consistent progression from outside to within the capital. Karakoto, which is the hidden topic, is in modern Okayana Prefecture on the shore of the Inland Sea -- the poem's musical metaphor plays off its literal meaning, "Chinese koto" or zither. Lost in translation: "spring" was the name of a note in (one of?) the traditional music scale. "Picked out" (translating koto ni, "especially") attempts to re-introduce some of this wordplay.


nami no oto no
kesa kara koto ni
kikoyuru wa
haru no shirabe ya
aratamaruramu


---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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