Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Kokinshu #349

Tuesday, 1 January 2013 10:33
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Written when there was a banquet at the Kujô Residence for the fortieth birthday of the Horikawa Chancellor.

    O cherry blossoms,
scatter, mingle together
    -- cloud in confusion
the road along which they say
Old Age would be approaching.

—31 December 2012

Original by Ariwara no Narihira. Fujiwara no Mototsune, brother of Nijô (see #4) and adopted son and heir of their uncle, Fujiwara no Yoshifusa (see #52), was called the Horikawa Chancellor after his main residence; the celebration took place in 875 at an alternate villa. In the year before the party, two major fires had broken out in the imperial compound, and some scholars speculate that the poem's imagery may have been inspired by their smoke, but if so, it seems a politically risky allusion given Mototsune was firmly in power through these misfortunes. Lost in translation: the marking of counterfactual desire on the confusion. Note the implied wind blowing the petals about, and the contrast of romantic, fleeting cherry petals with aging. All in all, a poem equally as good, in a different way, as Henjô's previous.

oiraku no
komu to iunaru
michi magau ga 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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