Friday, August 26, 2011

Sixteen



ちゅうなごんゆきひら

たちわかれ
いなばのやまの
みねにおうる

まつとしきかば
いまかえりこん


16

Chunagon Yukihira

Though we parted be,
If on Mount Inaba's peak
I should hear the sound

Of the pine trees growing,
Back at once I'll make my way.




16

We planted 
fir seedlings
across icy slopes.

Trees not yet logged
scraped and worried
in moaning winds,

showering us with
bark and cones.
I thought: will I

see you again,
should one of these
fall while my back

is bent?


Notes:

Ariwara no Yukihira, here called by his title of Chunagon (Councillor), was brother to Narihira. Their poems were often published together. The pine trees wait patiently for the right conditions to open their cones, showering the mountainside with with spiraling seeds -- this makes a sound like rain.

Risa remembers planting trees in rain along the top edge of a clearcut with fir trees towering above her, with wind shoving the trees back and forth, showering her with twigs and cones. The thought occurred to her that she could die here, and thus her love would never see her again.

Hokusai does not appear to have made a print for this poem; here is the one by Kuniyoshi. Peasant workmen, as well as the lord, appear to hear the pines of Mount Inaba.