Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Kokinshu #436

Tuesday, 20 August 2013 07:04
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Rose (saubi)

    Only this morning
I saw it for the first time.
    I must indeed call
the color of this flower
something that is coquettish.

—14 July 2013

Original by Ki no Tsurayuki. An implicit riddle answered by the summer topic. Red roses were a novelty only recently imported from China. Interpretation issue: ada can mean either "transient" (with overtones of futile/vain) or "beautiful" (with overtones of bewitching). It's also possible to understand "a flower's color" as symbolic of "a woman's true nature," giving an interestingly large matrix of possible readings. While most commentaries settle on one or the other meaning of ada, it would not be beyond Tsurayuki to intend both at once (though it's a little premature for the idea of being beautiful because transient). "Coquettish" partakes of both senses, if not exactly, and also evokes (in a sexist way) the symbolic reading.

ware wa kesa
ui ni zo mitsuru
hana no iro o
ada naru mono to



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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