Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Forty-Six


そねのよしただ

ゆらのとを
わたるふなびと
かじをたえ

ゆくえもしらぬ
こいのみちかな



46

Sone no Yoshitada

Like a mariner
Sailing over Yura's strait
With his rudder gone –

Whither, o'er the deep of love,
Lies the goal, I do not know.





46

You should know
by now, this stream
in winter cannot

be crossed – 
or only if you 
care not where 

you come ashore.




Notes

For this poem there is no known Hosukai print or drawing. Here is one thought to have been done by Hiroshige. In it, a woman, one of a famous pair of star-crossed lovers, is traveling in hopes of glimpsing her love -- but she neither knows where he is nor where she is going.

The poet, a minor provincial official, was not highly regarded in his own time but his reputation grew after his death. His imagery is often original, a quality sometimes unappreciated.

Risa responds to this poem by suggesting the lovelorn should count the costs before committing under adverse conditions. It is very easy to drown in the river in winter, especially if one's thoughts are occupied by things that may not even come to pass.