Hyakunin Isshu, Poem 39
ono no shinohara
amarite nado ka
hito no koishiki
like the sparse grasses
growing under low bamboo
I try to hide my love
but it is too much for me –
why do I love you so?
Minamoto no Hitoshi (880-951)
A poem about "unbearable love." The first two lines are a common preface (jo) to the verb shinobu, "to love secretly." The preface is connected by playing with sound, but also through imagery. There is a nice contrast in meaning between the "sparse reeds" hidden among bamboo grass, and "amarite," the overwhelming feelings of love mentioned in the next line. Note the conscious sound repetition.
This poem and the next two refer to "secret love." The speaker has stealthily fallen in love with a woman, but the affair is still in the early phase, before he has been able to reveal his feelings through an exchange of poems with the object of his affection.
asajifu: broad field of sparsely growing cogon grass (chigaya, Imperata cylindrica)
shinohara: field of bamboo grass
amarite: too much
nado ka: why?
Minamoto no Hitoshi (880-951) was the great-grandson of Emperor Saga (r. 809-823). After serving as governor of several provinces, in 947 he was appointed Sangi (Counselor) with Fourth Court Rank. He has only four anthologized poems, all in the Gosenshu.
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).
Photo 1: Arundinaria pumila, Kurt Stüber, GFDL via Wikimedia
Photo 2: Bamboos by Xu Wei, Freer Gallery of Art, public domain via Wikimedia
Hyakunin Isshu Index