A working space for my notes on Ogura Hyakunin Isshu - a classical Japanese anthology of 100 poems by 100 poets. My thanks to Jane Reichhold and fellow members of the AHApoetry Forum for their encouragement, advice and participation; and also to my fellow fellow members of Eratosphere for their comments and suggestions.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

#020 わびぬれば

わびぬれば
今はた同じ
難波なる
身をつくしても
逢はむとぞ思ふ



wabi nureba ima hata onaji Naniwa naru mi o tsukushite mo awamu to zo omou 

Prince Motoyoshi

in love-sick despair
I am drowning just the same;
so I pray let's meet
though we put our names at stake
in Naniwa's troubled tides

(trans. Köy Deli) 
deeply miserable
I'll be wet forevermore
at Naniwa Bay
I'm useless as a channel buoy
so I think we should meet


(trans. Jane Reichhold)


Parsing

wabinureba
misery | wet with | since
ima hata onaji
now | from now on | the same
Naniwa naru
Naniwa | (to be) in/at
mi o tsukushite mo
oneself | dir. object | used up | even (if)
|           tidal pole marker           |
awamu to zo omou          
shall-meet | “!” I | think/feel/hope

Notes and Devices

There are some clear links with the previous waka here; in location (Naniwa), and with the topic of a [brief] encounter; an encounter negated in the previous waka (no more meetings) but affirmed here (we shall meet again, despite all the risks). There is also a measuring stick of sorts in both, the segment of a reed at Naniwa in waka 19, and the tidal measuring stake(s) at Naniwa here.

Devises include a two part structure of prologue (jo) and phrase/statement; word association (engo) and pivot (kakekotoba):

みをつくし miotsukushi
= 澪標 water-channel marker (a pole/stake to measure the varying depth of the channel with the tides); and also
= 身を尽くし to exhaust oneself; be consumed

Also possible play/word association with Naniwa written as 'difficult/rough waves' but also marking the topic (wa - topic marker) of 'name/reputation' (na) - so it is name/reputation that is destroyed (rather than life).

The background story is of the love of the prince for a mistress of the emperor, and the great danger inherent should the emperor find out: the wretchedness of love sick separation however, the prince feels is the same as death/ruin anyway, so "let's meet", though it be my ruin, for I am just as wretched without you.

wabi
わび
wretched; sorry; miserable


nure
ぬれ
to be wet; love affair;


ba
conjunctive particle, since


ima
今は
now; at this time


hata
はた [将]
 at last; again; indeed;  soon; (near) future; from now on; just about

At least one parody of this poem uses koi/carp probably in association with hata meaning 'grouper' (fish).
onaji
同じ 
same; identical; equal


Naniwa
難波
Place name
kakekotoba
 pun with 'na' (name, reputation) as topic (wa).
naru
なる 
to be in; to be at


miotsukushi
みをつくし [澪標]
water-channel marker
kakekotoba
a stake set up in the water to mark the varying depth due to the tides
mi
body; oneself


(w)o
particle, direct object; the


tsukushi
つくし
exhausted; used up, depleted; run out


te mo
ても
conj. particle; even if...


awamu
逢は
meet; tryst; date; rendezvous; encounter; brief encounter


to zo
とぞ
fin. emotive particle; with/and I; 'so I'


omou
思ふ
to think; to hope; to feel; to recognise







 


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