Spring is here: Poem Number 33

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One of my personal favorite poems in the entire collection is this one:

久方のHisakata noIn these spring days
光のどけきHikari no dokekiwith the tranquil light encompassing
春の日にHaru no hi niThe four directions
しづ心なくShizu gokoro nakuwhy should the blossoms scatter
花のちるらむHana no chiruranwith uneasy hearts?
Translation by Dr Joshua Mostow

Ki no Tomonori (紀友則) passed away somewhere between 905 and 907 (date of birth is unknown) and is the cousin of the composer of poem 35. He is one of the Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry, and helped to compile another famous collection of poetry, the Kokinshū (古今集). The Kokinshū, formerly known as the Kokin Waka Shū (古今和歌集 “Collection of Ancient and Modern Japanese Poetry”) was completed in 905 and was the first of many efforts by the ancient Court to compile the best poetry, past and present, into an official anthology. The Hyakunin Isshu by contrast was one man’s effort in his retirement. More on that in a later post. As for Tomonori, it is said that he didn’t live to see the completion of the Kokinshū, sadly.

As for this poem, this is one of the most famous in the collection and emblematic of Spring, but also the fleeting nature of the world, and the touch of melancholy that comes with it. Truly this is a lovely poem. It also has a textbook example of a pillow word in the form of ひさかたの (hisakata no) in its opening verse.

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