Saturday, 4 May 2013

Kokinshu #385

Saturday, 4 May 2013 07:38
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Written at a drinking party held by high court officials for Fujiwara no Nochikage, who was leaving at the end of the Ninth Month to become inspector of Chinese goods.

    Stay here, you cricket,
and cry together with us --
    for isn't it true
this autumn's departure is
something to be regretted?

—28 April 2013

Original by Fujiwara no Kanemochi. His birth date is unknown, but given his younger brother Kanesuke (see #391) was born in 877 and his own career as a middling courtier starting in 897, it was probably around 870. He died in 923 and has two poems in the Kokinshu. ¶ Nochikage is the author of #108, and he, Kanemochi, and the father of Motonori, the author of the next poem, all received their first official appointments, as imperial archivists, shortly after Daigo's enthronement in 897. The inspector of imports from the mainland was a Kyushu duty station (and here I was wondering about Kyushu just a few poems ago); the appointment is not otherwise recorded but was probably a few years after 900. For the kirigirisu, see #196 -- and again we get the naku/sing/cry pun. Grammatical ambiguity with a significance pointed up by the headnote: the departure could be "in autumn" or "of autumn," the latter (at the end of the Ninth Month) being what the cricket traditionally cries for.

(I should probably explicitly say that I've been calling aristocrats who reach the 4th or 5th rank "middling courtiers." In the terms of the time, those are the lowest of the high court officials -- with access to the court and so actual courtiers but not movers-and-shakers. I call 3rd rank and up, being ministers and the like, "high-level officials," while 6th rank on down are "lower-level bureaucrat." By way of calibration, a provincial governor is a 4th-rank office.)

morotomo ni
nakite todomeyo
aki no wakare wa
oshiku ya wa aranu



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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