Thursday, 19 September 2013

Kokinshu #450

Thursday, 19 September 2013 06:57
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Hanging moss (sagarigoke)

    The flowers' color
heightens to what is only
    a single peak bloom,
yet the dew is dyeing them
over and over again.

—30 August 2013

Original by Tokamuko no Toshiharu. His dates and parentage are unknown, but he had a career as a middling courtier from the 890s through 920s. This is his only poem in the Kokinshu. ¶ The moss, today called saruogase, is a hanging tree-lichen of genus Usnea, probably specifically Usnea longissima. It doesn't seem to have a seasonality, but the poem itself is apparently autumnal. The Japanese words for the "deep" of a color and "peak" of a bloom don't have literal senses as opposed as they are in English, but they don't exactly work together either (the semantic domains are "thick" and "being in front"). To avoid sounding completely paradoxical, I slightly mistranslate the former as "heighten," even though this makes them more parallel than they really are.

hana no iro wa
tada hito sakari
kaesugaesu zo
tsuyu wa somekeru



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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