Monday, 17 June 2013

Kokinshu #407

Monday, 17 June 2013 06:57
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Sent to someone in the capital as he boarded the ship when he was banished to Oki Province.

    Tell that one, at least,
you boats of the fishermen,
    that I have set out
rowing through the Eighty Isles
across the watery plain.

—21 April 2010, rev 3 June 2013

Original by Ono no Takamura. Previously posted as Hyakunin Isshu #11, though tweaked since. The occasion is his 834 exile for refusing to join an embassy to China (see #335) -- in effect, "I may not have gotten on that boat, but this one..." Who the boats are to tell is ambiguous and could be plural, but given the apparently contrastive wa, a single person seems likely. Eighty Islands is both a name for the Japanese archipelago and a generically large number (it could also be rendered as "endless isles"), and an ambiguous verb (kakete) makes it possible to endlessly debate whether he has set out towards them or they are set out upon on the sea. And speaking of that sea, wata (see #250) was in his time an already archaic/poetic word for it, thus my poeticized rendering. In contrast to the previous, this is a poem on leaving, rather than heading toward, the homeland -- further linked by of starting with the plain of the sea (wata no hara) instead of the plain of heaven (ama no hara).

wata no hara
yasoshima kakete
kogiidenu to
hito ni wa tsugeyo
ama no tsuribune



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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