Monday, January 19, 2015

Seventy-Six



ほっしょうじにゅうどうさきの
かんぱくだいじょうだいじん

わたのはら
こぎいでてみれば
ひさかたの

くもいにまがう
おきつしらなみ





76

Hoshoji no Nyudo Saki no Kanpaku Daijo-Daijin (Fujiwara no Tadamichi)

Over the wide wild seas
As I row and look around,
It appears to me

The white waves, far away,
Are the ever shining sky.





76

I rode in the bow
till we lost sight
of land. Waves

caught us athwart,
and I stood
waist-deep,

reaching for Japan.




Notes

Fujiwara no Tadamichi (1094-1157 C.E.), son of the regent, was a poetry-loving denizen of the Fujiwara clan, who was slighted by his father in favor of his more warlike brother. Tadamichi chose to support the sitting Emperor's party during a major rebellion, and his brother and father were on the losing side. His brother was killed in the fighting, and their father captured. Tadamichi interceded for the old man that had so long hated him. In such times, how can one tell the sea from the sky?

The Old Nurse reprises Hokusai's Great Wave, but with rocks. Look out, Tadamichi, politics is dangerous!

Risa has been out of sight of land exactly once, reef fishing with her father from a boat out of Newport, Oregon in 1981. She has a distinct memory of going forward, hooking a leg over the bow rail, and riding there until the boat lost way to prepare for fishing, and a wave came over the foredeck and buried her to the waist in the Pacific. She was impressed with how calmly she took it -- perhaps the overall experience convinced her that the ocean was more -- real -- than anything she thought about it. Perhaps size matters, after all.


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