Monday, February 2, 2015

Eighty-Eight



こうかもんいんのべっとう

なにわえの
あしのかりねの
ひとよゆえ

みをつくしてや
こいわたるべき







88

Koka Mon-In no Betto (an attendant to Empress Koka)

For but one night's sake,
Short as is a node of reed
Grown in Naniwa bay,

Must I henceforth long for him
With my whole heart, till life's close?









88

You, who seemed
least impassioned,
longest stayed.

So I did not
panic when my world
changed overnight.







Notes

This well-born and highly placed lady-in-waiting (of whom we know relatively little else) has immortalized herself with a single laser-focused metaphor. One night of love is as short, in its way, as a single joint of reed. Yet it can be enough to trigger a lifetime of obsession, like a whole bayful of reeds!

The old Nurse obliges the young lady by having carters bring her a groaning load of reeds! But also, Hokusai puts wheels where he is thinking of Dharma -- the turning of the wheel of the law of life. Be careful, young lady. A lifetime of metaphors might do to thatch a roof, but will they hold out the rain?

Risa recalls that a young family member who has been reticent about his feelings for years was the one who stood longest by the resting place of his grandparents. Seeing this was a great comfort to her. There are many kinds of lifelong yearning.



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