Sunday, February 1, 2015

Eighty-Seven


じゃくれんほうし

むらさめの
つゆもまだひぬ
まきのはに

きりたちのぼる
あきのゆうぐれ






87

Jakuren Hoshi (monk)

Lo, an autumn eve!
See the deep vale's mists arise
Among the fir-tree's leaves

That still hold the dripping wet
Of the chill day's sudden showers.









87

Even as I came
to a suitable cliff
thinking to jump,

clouds opened
to a splendid view —
Before me, in silence,

a hawk rode wind.









Notes

Jakuren (1139–1202 C.E.) Was another friend of Teika's who had become a monk at a relatively early age and traveled and wrote poems, like Saigyo. He was one of the compilers of the Shin Kokin Wakashū, in which he is well represented.

The poem evokes the dropping temperatures and increasing mists and rains of the approach of winter by focusing on the myriad tiny droplets that are caught and held by fir needles. Hokusai's Old Nurse focuses on the guards and grooms of a traveling nobleman who are gearing up for this weather from boxes that contain rain hats and capes. It is a very powerful drawing, and one wonders how it would have looked as a completed woodblock print.

Risa is still thinking about that grief-laden ten-day hike in the rain. Despair, early in the journey, brought her to a cloud-shrouded precipice, where she easily considered what is thought to be the unthinkable, but was stayed by a sudden dazzling break in the mists, in which a hawk appeared, riding a thermal not ten feet away, looking straight at her. This happened in 1973.


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