Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sixty-Two



せいしょうなごん

よおこめて
とりのそらねは
はかるとも

よにおうさかの
せきはゆるさじ




62

(Lady) Sei Shonagon

Though in middle night,
By the feigned crow of the cock,
Some may be deceived —

Yet, at Ausaka's gate
This can never be achieved.





62

If you wanted
astrology, I would
be an astrologer;

if you hoped for
music, a singer then.
As it was, you had

one wish only:
that I not
run away.





Notes

Sei Shōnagon (ca. 1000 C.E.) was a court lady with the Empress and was the author of The Pillow Book. She was the daughter of Poet 42 and granddaughter of Poet 28 in this collection. In this poem, she tells her lover that his excuse that he has heard the cock crow will not wash, comparing him unfavorably to a prince's retainer in an old story who opens a gate by imitating a cock's crow, which is the gate's magical lock.

Hokusai shows a dramatic moment in the old story, as the retainer is climbing down from the tree.

Risa remembers a poignant moment in a similarly fragile relationship.


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