Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fifty-Six



いずみしきぶ

あらざらん
このよのほかの
おもいでに

いまひとたびの
あうこともがな




56

(Lady) Izumi Shikibu

Soon I cease to be.
One fond memory I would keep
When beyond this world.

Is there, then, no way for me
Just once more to meet with you?





56

I had almost died
under a distant
sun. I thought:

I should write you again.




Notes

"Izumi Shikibu (和泉式部?, b. 976?) was a mid Heian period Japanese poet. She is a member of the Thirty-six Medieval Poetry Immortals (中古三十六歌仙 chūko sanjurokkasen?). She was the contemporary of Murasaki Shikibu, and Akazome Emon at the court of empress Joto Mon'in." Wikipedia

http://www.visipix.com/sites-en/hoku_100_poem/pic.php?pic=56_1024.jpg
This type of poem is often handed to the lover in the form of a letter. Hokusai's Old Nurse (humorously, the wicked old thing) envisions the sick or dying lady's envelope containing not the letter but perhaps a payment to a fortuneteller, who has possibly assured the lady that she will meet her lover one more time, as she wishes. Will she? Fortunetellers notwithstanding, the future is always in doubt, especially in the case of an envisioned afterlife.

Risa, in her response, remembers a time when she was in hospital for ten days, and began writing letters to old friends ... and lovers.