Friday, 5 April 2013

Kokinshu #377

Friday, 5 April 2013 07:02
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
When Ki no Munesada went to the eastern provinces, he spent the night at someone's house, and as he was making his farewells before dawn had broken, a woman wrote and sent this out.

    We don't know for sure --
now let's put it to the test:
    As long as we live,
will it be I who forgets?
will that person not visit?

—4 April 2013

Original author unnamed. Whom Munesada spent the night with (a male friend? the poet? another woman?) and the poet's relationship with him (wife? lover? would-be lover?) are all ambiguous, as is whether the woman "sent out" or "held out" the poem. There's no consensus I can see among commentaries on these questions, though some note that because of directional prohibitions, it was not uncommon to start a journey by staying overnight at a nearby house that's in a different direction from one's destination. While it's clear the poet is being snarky, it'd be nice to know just HOW snarky (vicious? arch? exaggeratedly for effect?) and how justified she is, as that'd help fill in some of the lacunae in this "reasoning style" poem, such as whose life is being staked. Best guesses, and all that.

e zo shiranu
ima kokoromiyo
inochi araba
ware ya wasururu
hito ya towanu to



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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