Saturday, 7 September 2013

Kokinshu #445

Saturday, 7 September 2013 08:58
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
When the Nij├┤ Empress was known as the Mother of the Crown Prince, she commanded [Yasuhide] to write a poem on a carved-wood "medo" flower.

    Even though it's not
a flowering tree, it has
    indeed blossomed.
Would that a time may come
when this aged stock bears fruit!

—24 July 2013

Original by Fun'ya no Yasuhide. Medo is the second of the three mysterious plants of the Kokinshu: traditional esoteric interpretations include that it's a type of bush-clover (medohagi) carved out of wood as part of a floral display and that it's the location of the carving, either in a covered bridleway or a type of paneled door -- with the first of these being the most popular. Regardless, in addition to the hidden topic, Yasuhide worked in a pivoty double-meaning where ko no mi is "fruit of the tree" / kono mi is "this body" -- turning the second half of the poem into a sly request for her patronage (much like #8). I like the effect of arazaramedomo, "although should not be," showing up in the middle instead of at the end like most verbal pile-ups.

hana no ki ni
furinishi ko no mi
naru toki mogana



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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