Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Kokinshu #404

Tuesday, 11 June 2013 06:51
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Written when parting with someone he'd talked with at a rocky spring in Shiga Pass.

    As an offering
from a mountain spring muddied
    by drops from cupped hands
is unsatisfying, so too
parting from, ah!, this person.

—2-10 June 2013

Original by Ki no Tsurayuki. To transition into the travel poetry of the next book, the first of two poems of parting while traveling. In addition to being set outside the sophisticated capital, it's written in an old-fashioned manner with a description prefatory to the main subject hinging on the pivot-word aka, a water offering to the Buddha / akade, "not satisfied," which latter in turn explicitly applies to the clauses before and after it. (The offering sense is required, though many commentaries and translations ignore it, as otherwise the spring's genitive marker makes no sense.) Effect lost in translation: the original is bookended with musubu, here "scoop up (in the hand)" but can also mean "bind together," and wakarenuru, "have parted." The poem was immediately and enduringly popular, and frequently referenced by other Heian writers. It is often specifically interpreted as a love poem, with the "someone" a woman -- it wouldn't be the only time Tsurayuki flirted on this road.

musubu te no
shizuku ni nigoru
yama no i no
akade mo hito ni
wakarenuru ka na



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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