Sunday, November 6, 2011

Twenty-Five



さんじょうのうだいじん

なにしおわば
おうさかやまの
さねかずら

ひとにしられで
くるよしもがな



25

Sanjo Udaijin (Fujiwara no Sadakata)

If your name be true,
Trailing vine of "Meeting Hill,"
Is there not some way

Whereby, without ken of men,
I can draw you to my side?




25

As you gaze, I
avert my eyes
lest my breath stop.

Behind you, leaves
cling to the light
while sparrows

sing on.



Notes

Fujiwara no Sadakata was active around 900-920 C.E. and a member of a family of poets. This poem needs little explanation -- furtive love being one of the principal topoi of ancient Japanese and Chinese poetry. In the Japanese, it is laced with erotic double entendres.

Hokusai's Old Nurse, in an unfinished image, has a relatively straighforward interpretation, showing a woman well-wrapped for an incognito visit. Is the merchant looking at her and laughing? Perhaps the poor find the upper-class penchant for secrecy amusing. Is the lover watching from the door of that house, leaving all the courage of illicit travel to her?

Risa is thinking of the private "bubble" that forms around lovers engrossed in each other. Even in the midst of a crowd, they are a universe to themselves.



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