Sunday, 18 August 2013

Kokinshu #435

Sunday, 18 August 2013 07:03
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Gentian (kutani)

    The butterfly that
doesn't even realize
    and is enraptured
by flowers that will, once they
have scattered, become rubbish.

—14 July 2013

Original by Henjô. Exactly what a kutani is is unknown beyond that it's a summer flower that grows in the mountains, but the common speculation is that it's a gentian (modern rindô, also called bellflower). Henjô has a more subtle wordplay here than I'm used to from him: madou is to be enchanted (by the flowers), but matou, written identically at the time, is to entwine/wrap oneself around (what the not-understanding does) -- "enraptured" puns on "wrap" in much the same way. (Possibly "is wrapped up in" would convey that more clearly.) Even ignoring or overlooking this doubling, though, the archbishop has pleasantly packaged an orthodox Buddhist sentiment for our delight.

nochi wa akuta ni
naru hana o
omoishirazu mo
madou chô 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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