Thursday, 5 September 2013

Kokinshu #444

Thursday, 5 September 2013 07:05
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Morning-glory seeds (kengoshi)

    All of a sudden,
I seem to see the flower's
    color as deeper
-- even though they're just tinted
by the settling white dew.

—24 July 2013

Original by Yatabe no Nazane. Nazane appears in court records as a minor official (yes, some made it into the Kokinshu) between 884 and his death in 900, and has this one poem in the Kokinshu. ¶ Kengoshi are the seeds of morning glories (Ipomoea purpurea), which presumably come after the early-autumn blossoms. The bit about the dew seems to be another apparent paradox about white dew and dark colors. Some commentaries suggest, via reading koshi as a pivot-word meaning "next year" in addition to "deep," that this may be a Tanabata poem with the Weaver Maiden as speaker, with the dew a euphemism for her tears. If this was intended, it's a murky reading I have to squint to make out.

uchitsuke ni
koshi to ya hana no
iro o mimu
oku shiratsuyu no
somuru bakari o



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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