Tuesday, 23 July 2013

lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Cicada (higurashi)

    It seems woodcutters
are hauling out the timber
    for building the shrine --
I hear their echoes resound
from the foot-weary mountains.

Below "lesser cuckoo," above "cicada shell."

—1 July 2013

(Original author unknown.) This requires some textual history. All modern editions of the Kokinshu derive from a handful of manuscripts prepared by Fujiwara no Teika, which he created by collating variants against a base text edited by his father. Over the years, Teika restored more and more poems, but rather than mess with the sequence, he appended his additions onto the end with notes explaining where they should go. (One marker of textual traditions is the number added.) My base text is a lightly modernized transcript of a manuscript prepared by Teika in the late 1220s, the only complete edition in his hand available, with poems 1101-1111 being his restorations. According to his footnote, this should have come between #423 and #424 -- and so, in defiance of tradition, I'm translating it as #423a. (That this and the previous both end with forms of toyomu, "make noise," and this and the next are both cicada poems, thus creating actual transitions, is at least partial justification, but I'd been planning to do this well before I noticed that.) ¶ For the higurashi, an early-autumn cicada, see #204. Unlike the previous two poems, the content has no relationship with the topic -- though the sense of the stock epithet "foot-weary" is more relevant than usual. Unresolvable ambiguity: whether the timber is for a shrine or palace (both miya).

somabito wa
miyaki hikurashi
ashibiki no
yama no yamabiko

hototogisu shita, utsusemi ue



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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