Sunday, 27 January 2013

lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Written for Yoshimine no Tsunenari's fortieth birthday celebration on behalf of his daughter.

    This long-waiting pine
has celebrated my lord
    -- for I too would live
under the shelter of it,
of a crane's thousand years.

—27 January 2013

Original by Sosei. The date of the celebration is unknown but Tsunenari, a middling courtier, died in 875; Sosei was presumably involved as a family member (his lay name was Yoshimine no Harutoshi). The pine seems to have been either a gift or part of the decorations. A couple possible pivot-words here -- one of them particularly interesting, as in my base text matsu is written with the kanji for "pine tree" but a direct object marker forces also understanding it as the verb "wait," clear evidence that pivot-words are not always written phonetically. More debatably, tsuru could be both a perfective conjugation for celebrate and "crane" or simply understood as an associated word giving overtones, and kage could be both the pine tree's "shade" and the millennium's "protection" or simply understood more generally as "shelter". All in all, though, there's rather more word-play than usual for Sosei -- and rather more possible ways to read it. Technically, the waiting is for "ten-thousand ages," but that didn't fit in the line and, again, a near-infinite time is understood. Who would live in the shelter is unstated -- given the headnote, the traditional reading is the putative speaker, but it could also be the recipient.

yorozuyo o
matsu ni zo kimi o
chitose no kage ni
sumamu to omoeba



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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