Friday, 25 October 2013

lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Katsura Palace (Katsura-no-miya)

    With autumn coming,
might the cassia on the moon
    be growing fruit?
-- ah, no, it's still scattering
the light like flower petals.

lnh, 21-2 oct '13.
Original by Minamoto no Hodokosu, a great-grandson of Emperor Saga who appears in court records as middling courtier between 904 and his death in 931. This is his only poem in the Kokinshu. ¶ For the problems of the katsura, see #194 -- since this is the lunar tree, here "cassia," even though unlike the redbud-like tree (see #433) the cinnamon doesn't fruit. The topical palace was a residence of a daughter of Emperor Uda. Textual issue: in the first line, my base text has aki kureba, "because autumn comes" but some textual traditions have aki kuredo, "although autumn comes" -- which reduces somewhat the irony of the rhetorical question expecting a negative answer. The point being, of course, that the plants of the eternal moon don't (or shouldn't) change. "No" and "petals" are interpretive, and for clarity in English I slightly mistranslate the final o as exclamatory instead of what is probably a conjunction meaning "even though."


aki kureba
tsuki no katsura no
mi ya wa naru
hikari o hana to
chirasu bakari o


---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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