Monday, June 6, 2011

Seven



あべのなかまろ

あまのはら
ふりさけみれば
かすがなる
みかさやまに
いでしつきかも



7

Abe no Nakamaro

When I look abroad
Over the wide-stretched "Plain of Heaven,"
Is the moon the same

That on Mount Mikasa rose,
In the land of Kasuga?




7

Moonrise, and I
am here.
And where you are —

moonrise.



Notes

Risa responds here with a haiku, echoing Nakamaro's evocative tanka. Her beloved, at the time she is remembering, was three thousand miles away, so it is a bit of literary license.

Abe no Nakamaro, active circa 750 CE, was an administrator who worked in China; perhaps here he is simply homesick for Japan. 



Hokusai's Old Nurse's depiction of him is straightforward -- of course Japan is in the direction Nakamaro is facing as the moon rises, shown indirectly as a reflection in the sea. The wind is coming from the east -- unusual, as, when night falls, the sea breeze usually is replaced by a land breeze. this may represent the strength of Nakamaro's feelings as he stands, lost in thought, while his attendants await his pleasure unheeded.



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