Saturday, December 10, 2011

Thirty-One




さかのうえのこれのり

あさぼらけ
ありあけのつきと
みるまでに

よしののさとに
ふれるしらゆき




31

Sakanoue no Korenori

At the break of day,
Just as though the morning moon
Lightened the dim scene,

Yoshino's fair hamlet lay
In a haze of falling snow.





31

Snow plumed straight down
like river foam.
I knew where

the trees were,
loading themselves
with white —

but could not
find them.



Notes

Sakanoue no Korinori, active circa 900 C.E., is one of the Thirty-Six Immortal Poets and is represented in a number of Imperial anthologies. The poem is set in winter in Yoshino in what is now Nara Prefecture, where there is a famous waterfall. A century later, Yoshitsune is said to have washed his horse there, and Hokusai has a famous wood engraving of this event.

Hokusai's Old Nurse envisions the waterfall in winter, with a crew of workmen braving the snow to bring in wood, perhaps into a bathhouse.

Risa remembers the morning after one of her very first nights in the Oregon woods, parked in her truck camper in a location where she was to be picked up for a day's work. She awoke to find herself snowed in, with more than a foot of snow accumulated, and more falling silently in large bewildering clumps. She could recognize nothing from the day before, and was enchanted with the scene. She made up her mind on the spot that Oregon would be her permanent home.


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