Love Burns Like A Torch: Poem Number 49

Photo by Kelly on

The first of a series of poems dedicated to Valentine’s Day:

みかき守MikakimoriLike the fire the guardsman kindles,
衛士のたく火のEji no taku hi noguarding the imperial gates:
夜はもえYoru wa moeat night, burning,
昼は消えつつHiru wa kie tsutsuin the day, exhausted,
物をこそおもへMono wo koso moeover and over, so I long for her.
Translation by Dr Joshua Mostow

The author, Ōnakatomi no Yoshinobu, was the grandfather of Ise no Tayū (poem 61) and a prolific poet in his time, and one of the Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry. According to Mostow, was also one of the “Five Gentlemen of the Pear Chamber” (nashi tsubo no gonin 梨壺の五人), with the Pear Chamber referring to a special room within the Court ladies’ residence of the Imperial Palace, which in turn was named after a special pear tree within the Palace gardens in the Ladies’ Quarter. This implied a very high honor indeed for Yoshinobu who was a member of the Inner Court.

Interestingly, Mostow suggests that the poem was in fact not written by Yoshinobu, owing to the fact that it does not appear in Yoshinobu’s personal collection and is listed as “anonymous” in other collections.

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