Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Kokinshu #451

Tuesday, 1 October 2013 07:00
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Timber bamboo (nigatake)

    It's so difficult,
relying on the dewdrops
    for their very lives --
thus these insects of the fields
that cry out so mournfully.

—1 September 2013

Original by Ariwara no Shigeharu. Nigatake is a type of large bamboo, either timber bamboo (Phyllostachys bambsoides, now called madake) or Simon bamboo (Pleioblastus simonii, now called midake), so called from the bitter taste (nigami) of its shoots. Since Simon bamboo is also used for timber, consider the translation a generic name. Regardless, it's a summer topic for an autumn poem. Crickets and the like were commonly believed to sip dew for their water. Dew is transient enough that it is used figuratively in Japanese to mean transience, so that the problem is that it's short-lived would be understood.


inochi tote
tsuyu o tanomu ni
katakereba
monowabishira ni
naku nobe no mushi


---L.

About

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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