Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Kokinshu #430

Tuesday, 6 August 2013 06:59
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Mandarin orange (tachibana)

    Like a drifting cloud
that has separated from
    foot-weary mountains,
we live in this world, I see,
without any fixed abode.

—4-7 July 2013

Original by Ono no Shigekage, who had a career as a middling courtier from the 880s till his death in 896. This is his only poem in the Kokinshu. ¶ For the early-summer tachibana orange, see #121. In contrast to the cleverness of the previous couple poems, the topic is not hidden very deeply. Using an explicit comparison instead of letting the imagistic preface be an implicit metaphor is heavy-handed, and the stock-epithet gives the simple philosophical assertion a weighty tone. "Drifting" is interpretive, eked out from a three-verb pile-up describing the act of separating.

ashibiki no
yama tachihanare
yuku kumo no
yadori sadamenu
yo ni koso arikere



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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