Saturday, 2 February 2013

Kokinshu #358

Saturday, 2 February 2013 07:05
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
(for the same screen)

    So tall the mountains,
these cherry blossoms appear
    among the high clouds --
there's been not a single day
my heart doesn't go pluck one.

—30 January 2013

Original by [Ôshikôchi no Mitsune]. Poems #358–363 are not explicitly attributed in my base text, and while normally this would imply they're all Sosei's, we know the actual authors from other sources. In this case, Mitsune's collected poems claims the credit, and the focus on the speaker's response is certainly characteristic of him. The topic is typical for spring -- compare the structurally similar #50 and #87, which both have the same first and third lines as this one (a fact obscured in translation). Also obscured in translation: this is actually one long statement, which I've broken up to more closely preserve the order of images. To dwell "among the clouds" can idiomatically mean to be of high rank, thus making the poem codedly appropriate for the occasion. The phrase can, however, also suggest being out of one's social reach, and given Mitsune had a low enough rank he likely couldn't have attended the celebration for a top minister, the desire to pluck the blossoms can be read as allegorical for his desire to be there, thus reaching the ideal of this sort of screen poem by also elliptically referring to the occasion. That the cherry blossoms could, per the usual grammatical ambiguity, be read as addressee may play into this.

yama takami
kumoi ni miyuru
kokoro no yukite
oranu hi zo naki



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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