Sunday, 27 October 2013

lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
Somedono, Awata

    I leave to escape
this misery and, especially,
    the eyes of others
-- there at the foot of mountains
where the clouds rise up thickly.

This poem was written when the Mizuno'o Emperor [Seiwa] moved from Somodono to Awata; below "Katsura Palace."

—21-23 October 2013

Original by Ayamochi. I've got nothing on this person. No other Kokinshu poem is credited to him (or her?), and some textual traditions give the poem as author unknown (one lone source, which puts this above #463, credits it to "Yamamochi"). ¶ Another Teika restoration. Somodono and Awata were two more estates in the capital -- the former owned by Seiwa's grandfather and regent, Fujiwara no Yoshifusa (see #52), the latter by Yoshifusa's heir and successor, Fujiwara no Mototsune (see #349). The exact meaning of awatatsu is uncertain but the standard explanation is a sense something like "to rise thickly." The effect of first "misery" being emphatically marked and then "other eyes" doubly so is striking, and the resulting the tension is released interestingly by the antithesis of rising above the mountain's foot in a clause given its own emphasis by sentence inversion.

ukime o-ba
yoso me to nomi zo
kumo no awatatsu
yama no fumoto ni

kono uta, mizuno'o no mikado no somedono yori awata e utsuritamaukeru toki ni yomeru, katsura [no] miya shita



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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