Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Seventy-Eight


みなもとのかねまさ

あわじしま
かようちどりの
なくこえに
いくよねざめぬ
すまのせきもり






78

Minamoto no Kanemasa

Guard of Suma Gate,
From your sleep, how many nights
Have you waked at cries

Of the plaintive birds
Migrant from Awaji's isle?






78

a meadowlark
guarded her eggs,
practicing on me

the ruse of
a "broken" wing. 
I have guarded

my wounds from you
twenty years
the same way.




Notes

This courtier/poet was active in the early 1100s C.E. and later became a monk. He is found in various collections, including one of his own. 

The poem invokes a standard trope of animal sounds in the night, which become more prominent to the ears of one whose lover is absent. Hokusai's Old Nurse again relegates the poet to the background (perhaps he is in the house being approached by the distant birds). In the foreground women are carrying out a small-scale industrial activity (brewing, I'm told). They seem to have little interest in the birds or the island on the horizon.

Risa realizes that the most cogent facts about her were hidden from everyone for decades -- even from the love of her life -- and that her method of carrying out this subterfuge had resembled that of certain birds.


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