Friday, January 13, 2012

Thirty-Seven



ふんやのあさやす

しらつゆに
かぜのふきしく
あきののは

つらぬきとめぬ
たまぞちりける




37

Bunya no Asayasu

In the autumn fields
When the restless winds comb
The heedless dew

The unstrung pearls
are scattered round.





37

After freezing rain
I become wary
of the huckleberries: 

inveigling ice down
my neck, no matter
how I turn.




Notes 

Bunya [or Fun'ya] no Asayasu, active around the beginnings of the 900s C.E., is said to have composed this poem at the request of the emperor.

Hokusai's Old Nurse sees an autumnal task in progress on a windy morning: workers, or perhaps young courtiers, are out in a boat gathering lotus "water lily" pads. The dew has already been blown about, like loose pearls.

Risa remembers that when she worked in the woods, frost scattered before her like the dew in Asayasu's poem, and sometimes got underneath her collar. Those who work out-of-doors will recognize the posture of Hokusai's boatmen, who shrink away from the biting wind of approaching winter.


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