Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fifty-Nine


あかぞめえもん

やすらわで
ねなましものを
さよふけて

かたぶくまでの
つきをみしかな




59

(Lady) Akazome Emon

Better to have slept
Carefree, than to keep vain watch
Through the passing night --

Till I saw the lonely moon
Traverse her descending path.





59

She walked alone,
admiring the view
over field and wood

as if he were there.






Notes

"Akazome Emon (赤染衛門, 956–1041) was a Japanese waka poet and early historian who lived in the mid-Heian period. She is a member both of the Thirty Six Elder Poetic Sages (中古三十六歌仙 Chūko Sanjūrokkasen) and the Thirty Six Female Poetic Sages (女房三十六歌仙 Nyōbō Sanjūrokkasen) .... Emon is thought to be the daughter of Akazome Tokimochi, but her biological father was likely her mother's first husband, Taira Kanemori. Emon was born before her mother's marriage to Tokimochi in the Akazome family. Her husband Ōe no Masahira was a famous literary scholar, and the couple were considered to be "lovebirds" (おしどり夫婦 oshidori fūfu)." -- Wikipedia

The poem, while lovely, is conventional in the wife's longing for her husband, who was often absent on business. Hokusai's Old Nurse, perhaps with a cackle of impudence, shows a (possibly self-important) courtesan, traveling from one room to another -- perhaps on business of her own?

http://www.visipix.com/sites-en/hoku_100_poem/poem_56_60.htm
Risa, a very conventional woman herself who is often home alone yet not lonely, pictures a scene much like that of Lady Emon's "waiting wife."