10 February 2019

Hyakunin Isshu: poem 97 (Fujiwara no Teika・konu hito wo)

As I wait for someone who will never come, my body burns like the seaweed drying on the shores of Matsuho.
来ぬ人を

Konu hito wo
まつほの浦の

matsuho no ura no
夕なぎに

yuu-nagi ni
焼くや藻塩の

yaku ya mo-shiho no
身もこがれつつ

mi mo kogaretsutsu

Teika (to whom we are indebted to)
Fujiwara no Teika 藤原定家 (also read as Sadaie, 1162-1241) lived at the times very different from those of the earlier Hyakunin Isshu 百人一首 ("One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each", compiled around 1230) poets but it was precisely because of the times that Teika lived in that his life and his achievements are so significant even 800 years later. 

Fujiwara no Teika was born in 1162 and lived to the year 1241. This means he was born at the very end of the Heian period (平安時代; 794-1192) and saw the establishment of Kamakura shogugate (鎌倉幕府 Kamakura bakufu) or military government in Kamakura, hence beginning of Kamakura period (鎌倉時代; 1192-1333). And so it is, as if Teika stood at the edge of Heian period and could observe it all, collecting all of it into the Hyakunin Isshu, in reality Ogura Hyakunin Isshu 小倉百人一首, – an anthology so significant that the words Hyakunin Isshu now naturally invoke the meaning of the anthology compiled by Teika. 

But it is not only the Hyakunin Isshu that makes Teika so significant. Sei Shōnagon's 清少納言 (b. 965? - ?) The Pillow Book (枕草子 Makura no sōshi),  Murasaki Shikibu's 紫式部 (about 973 - about 1014) The Tale of Genji (源氏物語 Genji monogatari), or Kokinshū 古今集 (Kokin wakashū 古今和歌集; „Collection of Early and Modern Japanese Poetry”; 905) of the early Heian period (平安時代 Heian jidai; 794–1192) – these pieces of literature, that are inseparable from Heian culture as we know it today, are here at least partly because of Teika's efforts to copy them. Hence, as readers of Japan's classics from Heian and even earlier periods, we are can be thankful to this man named Teika.

Teika was a son of Fujiwara no Shunzei 藤原俊成 (also read as Toshinari; 1114-1204), who was "a great poetic arbiter of his time" (McMillan 2008, 146), yet Teika's status as an heir to Shunzei was not guaranteed, as it took Shunzei's letter to make Ex-Emperor Gotoba (後鳥羽院 Gotoba no in, previously Emperor Gotoba 後鳥羽天皇 [Gotoba tennō], 1180-1239) to persuade the Ex-Emperor to even invite Teika to compose for "Ex-Emperor Gotoba's First Hundred Poem Sequences" (後鳥羽院初度 Gotoba no in shodo hyakushu) contest. After the contest, however, for which Teika submitted a sublime sequence of 100 poems, Teika's position as the supreme arbiter of poetry at Court was more or less established and Teika became one of the eleven Fellows (寄人 yoriudo) at Gotoba's Bureau of Poetry (和歌所 Wakadokoro), and later one of the six Fellows appointed as compilers of Shinkokinshū 新古今集 (新古今和歌集 Shin kokin wakashū; "New Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern"; 1205).

Yet, during the compilation of Shinkokinshū, Teika's opinion was often ignored by Gotoba, who had the final say regarding the compilation of the anthology. Furthermore, as Gotoba chose many poems by poets that were relatively unknown, Teika felt discontent and Teika's criticisms had reached Gotoba, who was naturally displeased. Both remained on bad terms until the end of their lives, Teika even choosing not to include any poems of Gotoba in Shin Chokusenshū 新勅撰集 (Shin Chokusen Wakashū 新勅撰和歌集; "New Imperial Waka Collection"; 1236), although the reason for it might as well have been purely political, - inclusion of poems by Gotoba, who in 1221 tried to overthrow the Kamakura shogunate (鎌倉幕府 Kamakura bakufu) in Jōkyū War (承久の乱 Jōkyū no ran), might have offended the shogunate. 

One of the compilers of Shinkokinshū, the sole compiler of Shin Chokusenshū, Hyakunin Isshu, the person who copied so many of Heian classics we might say we are indebted to him, someone for whom poetry was a way of life, but also a man who was banished from Court for striking a superior officer (Brower 1972, 15), someone suffering chronic bronchitis and rheumatism (Ibid. 17), - that was Teika. So much more of his life and encounters can be told by reading his diary Meigetsuki 明月記 ("The Record of the Clear Moon"), notably his encounters with Princess Shikishi (式子内親王 Shikishi Naishinnō; 1149-1201, poem 89) but also his dissatisfaction with Ex-Emperor Gotoba's handling of Shinkokinshū, and struggles having to follow Gotoba to his residence at Minase 水無瀬, yet having nowhere to stay when there. Teika's diary tells considerably more than can be written here, hence it's a topic for another day. 

500 years of waiting on the shore of Matsuho...
Originally poem was included in Shin Chokusenshū, which Teika himself compiled and wrote the preface for. In the headnote there, however, the poem is dated as written in Kenpō 6 (建保6年), which is a misunderstanding, as it is known that the poem was created for Dairi hyakuban utaawase 内裏百番歌合 of 1216, which was carried out in Kenpō 4 (建保4年). It seems like the poem was against a poem by Emperor Juntoku (順徳天皇 Juntoku tennō; 1197-1242), which would have ensured a natural loss for Teika, but this poem was considered a winner of the round (Kubota 2009, 123). 

That, in addition to the fact that Teika chose this poem to represent himself Hyakunin Isshu, attests the idea that Teika himself should have considered the poem as one of this finest.

As the poem was composed for a poetry competition, it had a set theme. The way Teika used the theme, however, is masterful, as he drew on a poem from Man'yōshū 万葉集 ("Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves", around 759). And while none of the images that Teika’s poem evokes are new, the clever use of intertextuality, associations, and metaphors makes the poem feel modern (as modern as it can get for a 800+ year old poem, I guess) and innovative, yet in touch with a long poetic tradition that existed before Teika's time. 

If we looked only at the very beginning of the poem Konu hito wo matsu (来ぬ人をまつ), the meaning of it would be "Waiting for someone who does not come",  which would render matsu まつ as 待つ, which is read in the same way and means "to wait". However, Teika's matsu is also part of matsuho no ura まつほの浦, which means "Matsuho's shore". In poetry matsuho no ura is a frequently used placename that has appeared in poems as early as Man'yōshū (such placenames are called utamakura 歌枕). In reality, it's a shore on the island of Awaji 淡路島 in what once was Awaji no kuni 淡路国 and is now part of Hyōgo prefecture (兵庫県 Hyōgo-ken), so it's close to modern-day Kobe 神戸市 and Ōsaka 大阪市 in Western Japan.

As mentioned above, matsuho no ura has appeared in Man'yōshū and it seems that the poem Teika chose to include to the Hyakunin Isshu is an inversion of a poem from Man'yōshū (6th scroll, poem no. 935). 

[Note that poems were written without making distinctions between lines but make the rhythm easier to understand and to make Japanese reading more accessible, the poem is broken down into lines here, as is often done in many Western anthologies of Japanese classics of poetry. Also, the transcription of some characters differs from the modern transcription, e.g. the last in moshio is ho → moshiho in amaotome is wo → amawotome, etc. as such is the usual transcription of classical Japanese.]

名寸隅の

Nakisumi no
船瀬ゆ見ゆる

funase yu miyuru
淡路島

Awaji-shima
松帆の浦に

Matsuho no ura ni
朝凪に

asa-nagi ni 
玉藻刈りつつ

tamamo karitsutsu
夕凪に

yuu-nagi ni
藻塩焼きつつ

moshiho kakitsutsu
海少女

amawotome 
ありとは聞けど

aritoha kikedo
見に行かむ

mi ni ikamu
縁の無ければ

yoshi no nakereba
丈夫の

masurawo no
情は無しに

kokoro ha nashi ni
手弱女の

tawayame no
思ひたわみて

omohi tawamite
徘徊り

tamotohori
われはし恋ふる

warehashi kofuru
船楫を無み

funagadi wo na 

On the occasion of the Sovereign's journey to Inami District, Harima Province, in autumn, on the fifteenth of the ninth month of the third year of Jinki (726).

On Matsuho's shore of Awaji Island,
Seen yonder from Funase* of Nakisumi,
(seen yonder from the harbour of Nakisumi,)            
There are fisher-maids, I am told,
Who cut the dainty seaweed in the morning calm,
And in the evening calm burn salt-fires.
But I, knowing not how to reach them,
And deprived of my manly courage,
Am maid-like distraught with sorrow,
And wander about yearning for the far beach-
Helpless without boat and oar! (Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkōkai, 1965, 102)

*Funase 船瀬 is a noun, which means a harbor. For some reason it seems to be translated as a placename, hence the second line (which is actually the first two lines in Japanese), could be translated as seen yonder from the harbour of Nakisumi.

The yuu-nagi ni 夕なぎに line in Teika's poem is also taken from the Man'yōshū original. Yuu means "evening", while nagi なぎ is a state of calm, when there is no wind or waves, hence it can be understood as “evening calm”.

Mo-shiho 藻塩 (pronounced as mo-shio) is a type of salt that's made by adding seaweed into seawater and boiling the water until it evaporates, leaving the dry seaweed and salt. Apparently, the mo-shiho has been made on Matsuho shores, so to an experienced reader, the salt and the placename actually form a clear association. 

Furthermore, matsuno no ura no yuu-nagi ni yaku ya mo-shiho no is a jokotoba 序詞, a metaphor of over 7 morae, that is linked to the main body of the poem. In Teika's poem the association is made between moshio, or salt made by burning seaweed, and kogaretsutsu こがれつつKogaretsutsu expresses a continuous action, as tsutsu つつ is added to the ren'yōkei 連用形 or continuative form of a verb kogaru こがる (焦がる). The verb means "to burn" or "to burn until black" and is not used in modern Japanese, where modern verb kogareru 焦がれる is used. The modern kogareru means "to yearn for", which is also a meaning of kogaru, but kogareru does not form the association, as it does not have to do with burning. It is through the meaning of "burning" that the classical kogaretsutsu connects with moshio as well as yaku 焼く("to burn"), while the meaning of "yearning" alludes to Konu hito wo matsu understood as "waiting for someone who does not come". 

As mentioned above, Teika's poem is considered to be an inversion of the Man'yōshū poem. In Man'yōshū the one reciting the poem is a man looking at fisher-maids or amaotome 海少女 (in Man'yōshū "amawotome"of Matsuho shore. But in Teika's poem, it's one of the amaotome waiting for a lover who does not come. Hence, one could even see Teika's poem as creating a dialogue and showing continuity of poetic tradition all the way from Man'yōshū to Teika's day. An inclusion of such a poem into an anthology representative of poetry from the Man'yōshū days only strengthens an image of continuity of poetic tradition while at the same time showing the different tastes and poetic styles of Teika's day. 

Chouyaku Chihayafuru
This poem was read in episode 20 of anime adaptation of Chihayafuru. There Chihaya came to Yoshino Tournament because Taichi was playing there but he had already lost when she came, and told her that Arata was there, playing. When Chihaya was going to the hall, the poem was read. As I wait for someone who will never come my body burns like the seaweed drying on the shores of Matsuho.

This is probably a sign of her not believing Arata would come, her fear for him not to come back, yet, unlike someone who never came to the one speaking in the poem, Arata came back.

In Karuta konu hito wo こぬひとを is one of six cards that start with ko . The ko cards, however, can be divided into two groups – those separated by the second syllable and those separated by the fourth. There are four cards separated by the second syllable konoこの (poem 24)kohi こひ (poem 41)konu こぬ (poem 97)kore これ (poem 10) and two separated by the fourth kokoroaこころあ (poem 29)kokoroni こころに (poem 68).

こぬひとを

konu hito wo
まつほのうらの

matsuho no ura no
ゆふなぎに

yufu-nagi ni


yuu-nagi ni
やくやもしほ

yaku ya moshiho


yaku ya moshio
みもこがれつつ

mi mo kogaretsutsu

This is how the poem would be written down on the karuta cards. Notice the bolded parts as well, as they are written differently than they are pronounced. The reading is noted in italic rōmaji below. 

8 August 2018

Hyakunin Isshu: poem 62 (Sei Shonagon・yo wo komete)

Said night was young when the false rooster crowed, but the gates of Osaka remained shut.
夜をこめて

Yo wo komete
鳥のそらねは

tori no sora-ne wa
はかるとも

hakaru tomo
よに逢坂の

yo ni osaka no
関はゆるさじ

seki wa yurusaji

A lady from the Kiyohara family…

Sei Shōnagon 清少納言(b. 965? - ?) is one of the best-known female writers of the Heian period (平安時代 794—1192). She belongs to a group of Japanese court ladies who were writing at the turn of the 11th century - the time, when an astounding amount of writings that are today considered classical Japanese literature, were created. 

Sei Shōnagon was by no means born under thname she is known by. The Sei 清 in her pseudonym comes from her family name of Kiyohara 清原. Her personal name, however, is unknown, although tradition has it that Sei Shōnagon might have been born as Kiyohara no Nagiko  清原諾子 (McKinney 2006, xi).


Shōnagon's father was Kiyohara no Motosuke 清原元輔 (908-990; poem 42), a governor of Higo 肥後, present-day Kumamoto熊本, - a position that originally put Shōnagon to the periphery of Heian aristocratic world. 


However, Shōnagon's great-grandfather was Kiyohara no Fukayabu 清原深養父 (dates unknown; poem 36), a poet whose seventeen poems were included in the Kokinshū 古今集 (Kokin wakashū 古今和歌集; „Collection of Early and Modern Japanese Poetry”; 905); and her father, while a minor official, was also one of the Five Men of the Pear Chamber (梨壺の五人Nashitsubo no gonin), who were put in charge to compile the Gosenshū 後撰集 (後撰和歌集 Gosen Wakashū; "Later Collection of Japanese Poems"; 951), so poetic composition-wise Shōnagon came from a family that had a high reputation.


And Shōnagon herself was a poet, - she is considered one of the Late Classical Thirty-Six Poetic Immortals (中古三十六歌仙 Chūko sanjūrokkasen[a list compiled by Fujiwara no Norikane 藤原範兼 (1107-1165)], although she only has four poems in Goshūishū 後拾遺集 (Goshūi Wakahsū 後拾遺和歌集; "Later Collection of Gleanings of Japanese Poems"; 1086and later poetry anthologies.


It seems like Shōnagon's strength was in social verse and her knowledge of Chinese classics but she was intimidated by composition of poetry for contests or occasions (ibid., xvii). Her knowledge of Chinese classics was unusual for the times, as it was considered the territory of men's knowledge. Revealing it was also unusual for a woman, however the gentlemen seem to have known of Shōnagon's knowledge and "enjoyed seeing her negotiate the difficult challenge of cleverly responding to a Chinese allusion in a suitably roundabout way." (ibid., xvii-xviii)


Many of such episodes can be found in Shōnagon's Pillow Book, which focuses on the time when she served as a lady-in-waiting for Empress Teishi or Fujiwara no Teishi 藤原定子(976-1000), a consort of Emperor Ichijō (一条天皇 Ichijō tennō; 980–1011). However, differently from other writings of the time, Shōnagon's Pillow Book is neither a diary nor a tale (物語 monogatari). This is why it has long not been considered a classic or a must for poets, while, for example, Murasaki Shikibu's 
紫式部(about 973 - about 1014) The Tale of Genji (源氏物語 Genji monogatari) was. It was only in the Edo period (江戸時代1600-1867), when a genre called zuihitsu 随筆 (literarlly "following the brush") gained popularity and many writers of zuihitsu were influenced by Shōnagon's witty style, chatty tone, and even lack of organization of the text.  These influences that The Pillow Book has had also reveal what it is in its essence - a disorganised, chatty and witty collection of musings, that Sakai Junko even describes as something close to a newspaper gossip column (Carter 2014, 5).

Maybe it was this "gossip column" quality that irritated Murasaki Shikibu and continues to irritate scholars, especially men, even today. As for Shikibu, in her diary she wrote:
"Sei Shōnagon, <…>, was dreafully conceited. She thought herself so clever and littered her writings with Chinese characters; but if you examined them closely, they left a great deal to be desired." (translated by Richard Bowring in Bowring 2005, 54)
Shikibu then went on to comment on how superficial Shōnagon was and this has caused many to talk about the rivalry of Murasaki Shikibu - a lady-in-waiting for Empress Shōshi or Fujiwara no Shōshi 藤原彰子(also read as Fujiwara no Akiko; 988-1074), the second consort of Emperor Ichijō - and Sei Shōnagon who served the previous consort, Empress Teishi. But Shōnagon never answers Murasaki Shikibu. And that is because the two have likely never met, - Murasaki Shikibu came to serve at the imperial court after Sei Shōnagon had already left, probably even after Shōnagon's Pillow Book was already finished. 

And yet, that something irritating in Shōnagon, her persona and writing, primarily represented by The Pillow Book, remains felt even today, dividing people into those who love, and those who abhor her. Nevertheless, her influence is undeniable. And to me, over a thousand years later, she seems exciting.

…and a false cry of a rooster

The poem that Fujiwara no Teika 藤原定家(1162-1241) chose for the Hyakunin Isshu represents the witty Sei Shōnagon that is ever-present in her Pillow Book. However, this brilliant wit of hers might not be obvious when reading her poem by itself, which is exactly the case when we read it in the Hyakunin Isshu. 

The poem can also be found in the Goshūishū (book 16), with the headnote that mostly explains the situation in which it was created. However, originally the poem belongs in Shōnagon's Pillow Book (section 129 in McKinney's translation) and it is there that we can see the poem as part of a dialogue that Shōnagon seems to have been having with one of the outstanding calligraphers (but by no means an outstanding poet) of the Heian period Fujiwara no Yukinari 藤原行成 (972-1027). 

In The Pillow Book, Shōnagon writes on how one evening Yukinari visited the Office of the Empress's Household and stayed talking far into the night. He left as the dawn was approaching and the next day sent a "very lengthy message on several pieces of official paper from the Chamberlain's Office, saying, 'My heart is still full of regrets for yesterday. I thought to stay till dawn speaking with you of things past, but the cock's crow hastened me early on my way.'" (McKinney 2006, 134)

Shōnagon answered Yukinari: "That cock you say you heard so late last night, could it have been the false cock of Lord Mengchang?" (ibid.)

Here Shōnagon refers to a Chinese legend of Lord Mengchang, who arrived at the Hangu barrier gate in the middle of the night, trying to escape capture, and found the gate closed. With enemy close at his heels, he had one of his followers imitate the rooster crow, which was the sign for the gates to be opened.

By bringing up the legend of Lord Mengchang, Shōnagon shows her knowledge of the Chinese classics but also teases Yukinari.

Yukinari answered:  "They say <…> that Lord Mengchang's cock opened the Kanko barrier gate and thus allowed his three thousand followers finally to escape - but the barrier gate in my case was the lover's barrier gate of Ōsaka" (ibid., 134-135).

This is where the conversation gets interesting.  What could have Yukinari meant? He is certainly playing with the allusion to Lord Mengchang that Shōnagon has named, but just like Shōnagon first twisted his words "but the cock's crow hastened me early on my way" to the story of Lord Mengchang, here Yukinari seems to be again twisting the reference to one of the gate of Ōsaka, which is sometimes even translated as the Meeting Hill, and hides within itself a pun with word "to meet" as well as symbolises the difficulty of lovers' meeting. One could understand Yukinari's words as an indirect love confession, though certainly it involves so many allusions and so much of twisting the meanings that it can hardly be taken seriously.

And so, to Yukinari's words, Shōnagon answers with the yo wo komete poem:

Said night was young when the false rooster crowed, but the gates of Osaka remained shut, to which she added: "There's a vigilant guard at this gate." (ibid., 135)

It seems like Shōnagon takes the confession and answers to say that she is always on her guard and a man could not possibly expect to spend a night with her. To her poem, however, Yukinari answers:

逢阪は人こえやすき關なればとり鳴かぬにもあけてまつとか
Afusaka wa / hito koe-yasuki / seki nareba / tori nakanu ni mo / akete matsu to ka

The gates of Osaka are so loose that they open before the rooster crows and await entry.


To this poem, Shōnagon does not reply, stating that "Yukinari's Ōsaka poem was too much for me, and I couldn't manage a reply" (ibid., 135). Yukinari's poem is invasive, almost insulting. He seems to be implying that Shōnagon was someone easily seduced and reached. While she says she is always on her guard, Yukinari says she is exactly the opposite. Were they serious in this conversation, though? With so much twisting and turning, it becomes hard to tell. One thing that does come to mind while considering other episodes from The Pillow Book, however, is that Yukinari and Shōnagon did have other conversations filled with allusions, twisted and turned, so here as well, they might as well have purely been engaging in paronomasia. [See McKinney 2006, 49, or section 46 of McKinney's translation.]

One more interesting part about this episode, however, is that there seem to be different interpretations of Shōnagon's poem, hence making it possible to interpret the whole conversation between Shōnagon and Yukinari in a different manner. While most understand Shōnagon's poem as one of a woman who is always on her guard and cannot be reached, others interpret it as a poem that is an answer to her lover, who left early and then wrote her the next morning, which was a rather common practice. But was Yukinari Shōnagon's lover? We would have to take a second look at The Pillow Book.

Karuta

In karuta this is one of yo-cards []and there are four of them: yo no naka wa [よのなかは], yo no naka yo [よのなかよ], yomo [よも], yo wo[よを]Yononaka- are long shot cards, so it is natural to have trouble with those, but yomo and yowo are rather short.

Also, if you are familiar with hiragana, you might notice that what is romanized as Osaka is actually transcribed afusaka in kana. In translations of Chouyaku Hyakuninisshu: Uta Koi I changed it to Osaka but the old Japanese kana has it as afusaka, which is the old kana spelling, which is also used on the karuta cards. 




よをこめて

Yo wo komete
とりのそらねは

Tori no sorane wa
はかるとも

Hakaru tomo
よにあふさかの

Yo ni Osaka no
せきはゆるさじ

Seki wa yurusaji

26 July 2018

Hyakunin Isshu: poem 40 (Taira no Kanemori・shinoburedo)

Since I could not hide my love, people would ask if I was pining for someone.
しのぶれど

Shinoburedo
色に出にけり

iro ni idenikeri
我が恋は

wa ga koi wa
ものや思ふと

mono ya omou to
人の問ふまで

hito no tou made

 

The poet Kanemori…

Taira no Kanemori 平兼盛 (d. 990) is yet another Heian period (平安時代 794-1192) poet who is known precisely as a poet and not a political figure of great importance. 

Kanemori was a descendant of Emperor Kōkō (光孝天皇 Kōkō tennō; 830-887, poem 46)* but even the date of Kanemori's birth is unknown. During his career, Kanemori rose to Junior Fifth Rank, Upper Grade (位上 ju goi no jō); he ended his career as a governor of Suruga 駿河

Note his family name of Taira . Like mentioned in the post about Ariwara no Narihira, the family name of Taira, as well as family name of Ariwara 有原, was given to descendants of emperors but those descendants were related to the emperor by family ties further than those of father-son.

However, much more than a politician, Kanemori was a poet and that is how he seems to be remembered. Eighty-seven of his poems appear in imperial anthologies [note, it's the same number of poems that Ariwara no Narihira 有原業平 (825—880; poem 17) has in imperial anthologies, although I believe this is a pure coincidence]. Kanemori has also left a personal collection of poetry (such collections are called kashū 家集) and is one of Fujiwara no Kintō's 藤原公任 (966—1041; poem 55) Thirty-Six Poetic Immortals 三十六歌仙 (Sanjūrokkasen). 

Three anonymous poems from the Gosenshū 後撰集 (後撰和歌集 Gosen Wakashū; "Later Collection of Japanese Poems"; 951) are also considered to be written by Kanemori. 

At least in Heian period Japan, Kanemori's poems seem to have been rather well-remembered, for allusions to them can be found in both Sei Shōnagon's 清少納言 (dates unknown, poem 62) Makura no sōshi 枕草子(The Pillow Book) and in Sarashina Nikki 更級日記 (The Sarashina Diary) by Sugawara no Takasue no Musume 菅原孝標女 (1008-1059; Daughter of Sugawara no Takasue). And I believe more examples could be added to this list.

The allusions in Makura no sōshi and Sarashina Nikki are rather subtle but they also show how knowledge of previously created poems, especially those in Kokinshū 古今集 (Kokin wakashū 古今和歌集; „Collection of Early and Modern Japanese Poetry”; 905) and later Gosenshū, was required, - allusions to those poems could have been anywhere.

In Sei Shōnagon's Makura no sōshi, the allusions can be found in chapter 173 and 176 [translation by Meredith McKinneysee references section for exact book information]*. The chapter 176** reference is particularly beautiful, with Fujiwara no Teishi 藤原定子 (976-1000; sometimes also read as Fujiwara no Sadako), who was a wife of Emperor Ichijō (一条天皇 Ichijō tennō), making an allusion and her brother, Fujiwara no Korechika 藤原伊周 (974-1010), picking up on it:

"…it was Grand Counsellor Korechika who arrived, his cloak and violet gathered trousers glowing most beautifully in the light from snow. He settled himself at the food of a pillar. 'I've been kept away by an abstinence these last two days', he said, 'but with this heavy snowfall I decided to call and see how you were.'

'I feared that "the path is gone", with all this snow," came Her Majesty's reply. 'How did you get here?"

He smiled. 'Are you "truly moved" to see me then?' he inquired. Could there be anything more splendid? I wondered. As I listened in awe to their elegant exchange, I marvelled that there must surely be nothing more wonderful." (Translated by Meredith McKinney in McKinney 2006, 170)

The allusion that Teishi makes is to a famous poem by Kanemori [Shūishū 拾遺集 (Shūi Wakashū 拾遺和歌集; "Collection of Gleanings"; 1005) 251, book 4 / winter, topic unknown]:

山里は雪降りつみて道もなし今日こむひとを哀とはみむ
Yamazato wa / yuki furitsumite / michi mo nashi / kyō komu kito o / aware to wa mimu

"Here in my mountain home the snow is deep and the paths are buried. Truly would he move my heart - the man who came today." (translation from Shirane 2007, 279 note 285)

Another reference that came to my attention is from Sarashina Nikki. The author of Sarashina Nikki and her stepmother shared interest in romantic tale literature, which made the two close. However, her stepmother had left and the author was longing to see her, especially since the plum tree bloomed and the stepmother had promised to come visit when it bloomed. So the author of Sarashina Nikki sent her stepmother a poem and the answer she received read:

猶たのめ梅のたちえはちぎりをかぬおもひのほかの人もとふなり
Naho tanome / mume no tachi e ha / chigiri okanu / omohi no hoka no / ito mo tofunari

”Still wait, steadfast.
As for the plum's young branch tips,
even with no pledge placed,
I hear that unexpectedly
someone will visit you." (translation by Sonja Arntzen and Itō Moriyuki in Arntzen, Ito 2014, 110)

The that stepmother had sent alludes to Kanemori's poem (Shūishū 15book 1, spring):

わが宿の梅の立ち枝やみえつらむ思の外に君が來ませる
Waga yado no / ume no tachie ya mietsuran / omohi no hoka ni / kimi ga kimaseru

"Is it that
The young branch tips,of the plum tree in my garden
have come to view?
For unexpectedly my lord,
you have been moved to visit" (in Arntzen, Ito 2014, 111, note 94).

The full story from Sarashina Nikki can be found in translation by Sonja Arntzen and Itō Moriyuki (see Arntzen, Sonja, Moriyuki Itō 2014 in the references, pages 110-111). Also in chapter 3 of translation by Ivan Morris (see references for Morris 1975) or without chapter number in Shirane 2007, exact page would be 461.

* McKinney's chapter 176 is chapter 116 in Shirane 2007, exact reference to Kanemori's poem is in page 279, see note 285; the story is also available in Carter 2014, 20 - here the chapter number is 177.
** 116 in Shirane 2007, 177 in Carter 2014. I am refering by chapter number in McKinney's translation as it is the one I quote.

… and the love that shows on one's face

Kanemori's poem in the Hyakunin Isshu 百人一首 comes from the already-mentioned imperial anthology Shūishū. There it comes with a headnote, reading: "Poetry Contest in the Tenryaku Era" (天暦の御時の歌合 Tenryaku no ōntoki no utaawase in Japanese), which refers to a poetry contest held by Emperor Murakami (村上天皇 Murakami tennō924-967) in 960. This headnote reveals a whole lot about the circumstances, in which the poem was created, as the contest "was to be remembered as the outstanding example of the courtly poetry match" (Shirane 2007, 594). 

The mentioned poetry contest consisted of twenty rounds, the last five having the topic of "Love". Kanemori's shinoburedo しのぶれど poem was composed for the last round and was against koi suchō 恋すてふ poem by Mibu no Tadami 壬生忠見 (dates unknown), which also happens to be the 41st poem in the Hyakunin Isshu

Four different accounts of the contest, in both Chinese and Japanese, exist (Shirane 2007, 594) and Shirane's Traditional Japanese Literature gives us a glimpse into one of them. According to this account, in the last round, I would presume the judge Fujiwara no Saneyori 藤原実頼 (900-970) was unable to decide which poem is the winner, as "Both Poems are outstanding" (ibid., 597). Major Counselor Lord Minamoto (Minamoto no Taka'akira 源満仲; 912?-997) "declined to respond" (ibid.) and the winner was decided by Emperor Murakami, who seemed to be reciting the poem of the Right to himself. The poem of the Right was one by Kanemori. (ibid.)

Joshua S. Mostow also gives us a glimpse into the last round of the poetry match but he does that through a collection of anecdotes, called Fukuro Zōshi 袋草紙, which was compiled by Fujiwara no Kiyosuke 藤原清輔 (1104-1177), who lived over a hundred years after the contest. Despite that, Kiyosuke gives pretty much the same account as the one given above.   What is interesting in Mostow's description, however, is that he notes that it was likely not only the poems but also the story related to them that appealed to Fujiwara no Teika 藤原定家(1162-1241), the compiler of Hyakunin Isshu (Mostow 1996, 260).

The first three lines (lines in today's world, in reality the poems were not divided into lines) of this poem seem rather straightforward, even though it does seem to include some classical Japanese (I should try to update on this later, when I have studied it more. Nevertheless… I will give interpreting it a try). Shinoburedo could be translated as "although I conceal it", iro ni idenikeri - "it shows in the colour [of my face]", wa ga koi wa - "my love", so we end up with something like: Although I conceal it, my love shows in the colour [of my face]. The real trickery and beauty of this poem, however, seems to lie in the second part of it.

Mostow notes that Kanemori's shinoburedo poem has been highly prized for "the conversational quality of its lower half" that beautifully contrasted with Hyakunin Isshu poem 39, with which poem 40 shares the word shinoburedo. So while both poems share the word shinoburedo, poem 39 has a monologue quality to it, while poem 40 sounds like a dialogue (ibid.).

The conversational quality of Kanemori's poem is not clearly evident in the translation I am using above. However, it is clear in one by Mostow:

Even though I hide it,
it shows all over my face
such is my longing,
so that people ask me
"What are you thinking about?" (ibid.)

Translation by Peter McMillan also reveals the dialogue quality and reading two translations side-by-side beautifully enhances the understanding of how multi-layered Kanemori's poem is:

Though I try to keep it secret,
My deep love
Shows in the blush on my face.
Others keep asking me
— Who are you thinking of? (McMillan 2008, 42)

Meanwhile poem 39 by Minamoto no Hitoshi 源等 (880-951) is translated by Mostow as:

Though I reveal my love
as sparingly as the sparse reeds
that grow in low bamboo fields,
it overwhelms me - why is it
That I must love her so? (Mostow 1996258)

McMillan's translation of Hitoshi's poem also shows this quality, for the poem see McMillan 2008, 41.

As one can see from translations of Kanemori's poem, different translators put emphasis on different parts of the poem. Mostow also chooses "what", while McMillan chooses "who" at the beginning of the last translated line. I believe this is because in Kanemori's poem we see mono もの. Written in kana, it can either mean "thing", hence "what", or "person", hence "who".  

Interestingly, the Japanese transcription of Shūishū from University of Virginia database (it seems like it is down as I am writing this, however :() goes like:

忍ぶれど色に出にけりわが戀はや思ふと人のとふまで

This implies the translation of Mostow is closer to truth, as mono with this particular kanji means "thing". However, as we can see, and as is often the case - different transcriptions in Japanese exist and that makes interpreting poems even trickier. As if they weren't tricky enough.

Hyakunin Isshu in images

Throughout the ages following Teika, Hyakunin Isshu has been one of the most influential collections of Japanese poetry and it has become a topic of many commentaries and other interpretations. The image I am sharing this time is by Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1798—1861). Has he been interpreting the poem here at all? It might take an art expert to analyse the image in relation to the poem and answer that question. The print depicts Kanemori sitting with a Buddhist monk. If we wanted to, we could probably see a very direct depiction of a poem here. People would ask if I was pining for someone…  The person asking might as well be the monk then.

[Image: Utagawa Kuniyoshi. Taira no Kanemori (no. 40). One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets. I am sharing the print from the collection of Museum of Fine Arts Boston, see the full description here. Such a print is also in the collection of the British Museum, read more here.

Karuta

In karuta shinoburedo しのぶれど is one of two shi [] cards, the other being shiratsuyu niしらつゆに, poem 37 by Fun'ya no Asayasu 文屋朝康 (dates unknown). During the game the two shi cards can soon become first-syllable ones because there are only two cards that start with shi and both are recognised by their second syllable.

しのぶれど
Shinoburedo
いろにいでにけり
Iro ni idenikeri
わがこひは
Wa ga koi wa
ものやおもふと
Mono ya omou to
ひとのとふまで
Hito no tou made


Chouyaku Chihayafuru


In Chihayafuru poem 40 is especially important since it is the favourite one by Chihaya's main rival, the queen, Wakamiya Shinobu. The beginning of poem 40, shinoburedoしのぶれど, shares the first three syllables with Shinobu's name (like Chihaya's name can be seen in first three syllables of poem 17, chihayaburu ちはやぶる; Kana's last name, Ōe, can also be heard in the opening syllables of poem 60, Ōe-yama おほえやま; and Sumire's last name, Hanano, can be heard in the opening line of poem 9, hana no iro wa はなのいろは). 

The poems that have connotations with names of characters also tend to tell something about them. As one can see, Chihaya is incredibly passionate, almost to the point where the gods had not seen it yet (see poem 17). But what is Shinobu then? Though she may hide it, her love is evident, we might say. Her love for what? Possibly playing with others, as we often see her playing alone yet longing for the old days when she was able to play with others. 

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