Saturday, December 3, 2011

Thirty



みぶのただみね

ありあけの
つれなくみえし
わかれより

あかつきばかり
うきものはなし



30

Mibu no Tadamine

The morning moon,
Cold, unpitying.
Since that parting hour,

Nothing I dislike so much
As the breaking light of day.




30

Once we had made up
our minds that you
should leave at morning —

we each in our way
prayed dawn would never
come.



Notes

Risa's response poem should be self-explanatory. It rests on the alternate interpretation to Tadamine's poem, which has been thought to represent a lover's complaint against being made to wait fruitlessly (a common theme in Japanese literature of the times) but could also mean a lover's complaint against the shortness of the night.

Hokusai's Old Nurse prefers the second meaning also, and visualizes two farmers or tradesmen of the lower classes encountering the lover after the lady (that dramatic pose, supporting herself on the gatepost -- it could not be her servant) has seen him off at the gate. They make the appropriate obeisances -- does he return the bow, or is he simply bowed with sadness at the foggy dawn?

Tadamine was one of the Thirty-Six Immortal Poets, as well as a noted critic, active around 900 C.E.


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