Monday, April 12, 2021

Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each): Poem 44 (Fujiwara no Asatada)


 Hyakunin Isshu, Poem 44

au koto no
taete shi nakuwa
nakanaka ni
hito wo mo mi o mo
urami zaramashi


if we would never
have met at all
then on the contrary
I would not resent
both her and myself

Fujiwara no Asatada (910-966)

[Fujiwara no Asatada by Kano Yasunobu]

"If would never have met her, I would not have to resent her coldness or my own distress."

Two interpretations are possible:
(1) "love unable to meet again" - the poet complains about a cold lady who will not see him again (due to the dangers and complications this would entail); this is the way Teika reads it, and also how I have translated it.
(2) "love before the first meeting" - the poet complains that the woman has not yet consented to let him come to her at night. Were there no such thing as love, he would on the contrary be happy and would not resent her nor feel sad himself. Then the translation would have to be:

if there were no such thing
as a tryst at all
then on the contrary
I would not resent her
nor feel sad myself

taete: (not) at all
nakanaka: on the contrary
hito wo mo mi mo: neither others (her, his lover) nor myself
-mashi; suffix of conjecture, used in "if...then..." constructions

The Poet
The writer of this poem was the fifth son of the Minister-of-the-Right Sadakata (poem 25) and was counted among the Thirty-six Poetic Geniuses. 21 of his poems have come down to us in various imperial collections.

References: Pictures of the Heart, The Hyakunin Isshu in Word and Image by Joshua S. Mostow (University of Hawai'i Press, 1996); One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each, by Peter MacMIllan (Penguin Classics); Traditional Japanese Poetry, An Anthology, by Steven D. Carter (Stanford University Press, 1991); Hyakunin Isshu by Inoue Muneo, etc. (Shinchosha, 1990); Genshoku Hyakunin Isshu by Suzuki Hideo, etc. (Buneido, 1997); Chishiki Zero kara no Hyakunin Isshu, by Ariyoshi Tamotsu (Gentosha); Hyakunin Isshu Kaibo Zukan, by Tani Tomoko (X-Knowledge);  Ogura Hyakunin Isshu at Japanese Text Initiative (University of Virginia Library Etext Center); Hyakunin Isshu wo aruku by Shimaoka Shin (Kofusha Shuppan); Hyakunin Isshu, Ocho waka kara chusei waka e by Inoue Muneo (Chikuma Shoin, 2004); Basho's Haiku (2 vols) by Toshiharu Oseko (Maruzen, 1990); The Ise Stories by Joshua S. Mostow and Royall Tyler (University of Hawai'i Press, 2010); Kokin Wakashu, The First Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poetry by Helen Craig McCullough (Stanford University Press, 1985); Kokinshu, A Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern by Laurel Rasplica Rodd and Mary Catherine Henkenius (University of Tokyo Press, 1984); Kokin Wakashu (Shogakkan, 1994); Shinkokin Wakashu (Shogakkan, 1995); Taketori Monogatari-Ise Monogatari-Yamato Monogatari-Heichu Monogatari (Shogakkan, 1994).

Hyakunin Isshu Index