Monday, February 2, 2015

Ninety


いんぷもんいんのたいふ


みせばやな
おじまのあまの
そでだにも

ぬれにぞぬれし
いろはかわらず








90

Impu Mon-In no Taiu (attendant to princess Ryoshi) [Sukeko]

Let me show him these!
Even the fisherwomen's sleeves
On Ojima's shores,

Though wet through and wet again,
Do not change their dyer's hues.








90

You must know
the meaning of
the dory-boatmens'

daily beaching
at full throttle,
risking all between

two waves.






Notes

This lady-in-waiting, a member of the Fujiwaras who died in 1219, attended a poetry competition and found a courtier's poem of wet sleeves (emblem of tears of sadness and/or frustration) somewhat unoriginal and trite. "Check out these sleeves, Sir!" she responded. "See how my weeping has run the dye? Even the women who fish the sea bottom have not ruined their sleeves!" She won.

The Old Nurse has provided an oblique scene in which a nobleman's horse and attendant are waiting outside a house -- a place of assignation? Perhaps, if the print had been made, this horse would have matched the one in the print shown mounted on the wall in the preceding drawing, connecting the poems in the viewer's mind. Meanwhile the life of the common people goes on, as real as that of the high-born lovers. Possibly the three women at center are carrying  ... fish!

Risa reminds her lover that courage and decision are required in love, just as they are in the risky life of the dory-boatmen of the Oregon coast, who drive their fishing craft right through the surf and up onto the beach at the end of the day.

She has been known to be terribly cowardly herself, but never mind that.


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