A Lover’s Cruelty: Poem Number 82

Il Triste Messaggio (“The Sad Message”), by Peter Fendi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A poem I stumbled upon today:

思ひわびOmoi wabiMiserable,
さても命はSatemo inochi wanonetheless, somehow
あるものをAru mono woI cling to life, but
憂きに堪へぬはUki ni taenu wait is my tears
なみだなりけりNamida nari kerithat cannot endure the pain!
Translation by Dr Joshua Mostow

The author of the poem, Fujiwara no Atsuyori (1090-?1179), took tonsure in 1172 and became a Buddhist priest named Dōin Hōshi (道因法師, “Dharma master Dōin”), but it’s not clear if this poem was written before or after he took up the religious life. Also according to Mostow, it’s not clear if the poem is a real expression of pain or part of poetry contest. Unfortunately, none of the poetry collections of Dōin survive, though he frequented poetry contests since 1160. He became a member of a famous poetry group called the Karin-en (歌林苑), though, and spent much time around other influential poets of the day.

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