Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Twenty-One



そせいほうし

いまこんと
いいしばかりに
ながつきの

ありあけのつきを
まちいでつるかな





21

Sosei Hoshi (monk)

Just because you said,
"In a moment I will come,"
I've awaited you

Even until the moon of dawn,
In the long month, has appeared.





21

I went to a place
of waiting. People
passed, and glanced,

curious. I did not
mind; you might
arrive or you might

not. What to do 
was what to do.



Notes

Sosei, son of the author of poem eleven, was a court officer before becoming a monk. Many of his poems remain extant, and he is one of the Thirty-Six poetry Immortals

Hokusai's Old Nurse seems to focus on the speaker as female. Is the man being led by torchlight up the path in a different direction her lover? And why is he carrying a set of keys?

Risa also remembers waiting at night for one who promised to arrive. On this occasion (perhaps unusually so) she was able to compose herself -- whatever was to be, would be. Perhaps she was, that night, remembering times when she herself had been unkind.


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