Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Kokinshu #479

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 07:06
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
After going to where people were picking flowers, he wrote and sent this to the home of someone who had also been there.

    Like mountain cherries
that are just faintly discerned
    through breaks in the mist --
just so am I longing for
someone I have barely glimpsed.

—8 December 2013

Original by Ki no Tsurayuki. Gaps in curtains, in snow, and now broken mist. The headnote is gender-neutral but we're to understand (through the cherry blossom imagery -- that the cherries are blooming is omitted-but-understood) the person was a woman. The phrase honoka ni mo miteshi, "even dimly seen," is a singular pivot applying to both the prefatory flowers and the person longed for. As common for this construction, the effect is an implicit comparison. Untranslatable overtone: the mountain cherries on the slopes suggest a "flower of the high peak" (takane no hana), an idiom for someone unobtainable, heightening (so to speak) his flattery.

kasumi no ma yori
honoka ni mo
miteshi hito koso



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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