Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Kokinshu #375

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 07:21
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Topic unknown.

    I'll not hear of it,
the day you start, cutting us
    like a Chinese robe
-- for, left behind like morning dew,
I must vanish when you go.

A certain man, having been named to an official post, took a new wife and abandoned the one he'd lived with for years. When he said to her merely, "I start tomorrow," she said nothing but wrote and sent him this poem.

—14-17 March 2013.

Original author unknown. Time for a short break from male friendships with three partings by lovers, all written in contemporary, Chinese-influenced styles in marked contrast to the older, plain manner of of #366-368. That the editors give the story as a footnote rather than headnote suggests they did not entirely trust it, even without hedging it with "some people say." Two pivot-words here, both used to attach decorative phrases that essentially act as adverbial stock epithets: tatsu is "cut" for the Chinese robe and "start/depart," and oku is "settle" for the morning dew and "leave (behind)." All this plus that "dew" and "vanish" are imagisticly related words makes this a technically elaborate piece. (I'm less satisfied than usual with my rendering here, but it's time to move on and come back later.)

tatsu hi wa kikaji
asatsuyu no
okite shi yukeba
kenubeki mono o

kono uta wa, aru hito, tsukasa o tamawarite atarashiki me ni tsukite, toshi ete sumikeru hito o sutete, tada asunamu tatsu to bakari ierikeru toki ni, to mo kau mo iwade yomite tsukawashikeru


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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