Kokinshu #468

Wednesday, 6 November 2013 07:17
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Composed when someone told him to write a poem starting with "ha," with "ru" at the end, and including "nagame" (scenery).

    Because I, thinking
"How could I tire of looking?"
    passed through the flowers,
it feels like my heart indeed
has scattered away with them.

—3 November 2013

Original by Archbishop Shôhô. Shôhô or Shôbô (832-909, lay name Prince Tsunekage, a 6th-generation descendent of Emperor Tenji) founded Daigo Temple in 874 as well as the now-extinct Toyama school of esoteric Shingon Buddhist practice. This is his only poem in the Kokinshu. ¶ The book ends with another kind of acrostic, though the first+last syllable game doesn't seem to have been as popular as hidden topics or start-of-line acrostics. The two syllables together make haru, "spring," the time of the poem. The hidden topic nagame could mean "prospect/view," "long/pensive gaze," or "long rain," all of them spring topics (see #113) that fit the content. Slight mistranslation: beranaru usually indicates conjecture based on visual evidence, but "feels like" is more clear in English than "seems that." Being distracted by the beauties of the world is, of course, a failing in Buddhism, making this a nicely orthodox sentiment from a clergyman. Compare #132.

And after this book ends with someone losing their heart, comes the first book of love poems. Expect much elegant mopiness, seasoned with occasional surprises of joy.

hana no naka
me ni aku ya tote
kokoro zo tomo ni



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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