Reel Her In: Poem Number 25

A vine “tendril”, photo by Jon Sullivan, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This is the third poem in the series dedicated to Valentine’s Day:

名にしおはばNa ni shi owabaIf they bear such names:
逢坂山のOsakayama nothe “come-sleep vine” of
さねかづらSanekazura“Meeting-Slope Hill” —
人にしられでHito ni shiraredehow I wish there was a way to come to you,
くるよしもがなKuru yoshi mo ganaas if pulling in a vine, unknown to others.
Translation by Dr Joshua Mostow

The poem was composed by Fujiwara no Sadakata (873-932) who was the father of Fujiwara no Asatada (poem 44) and brother of Kanesuke (poem 27). He was a minor poet in the day, whose poetry appeared in a few collections.

Kadsura japonica (sanekazura), bearing fruit

In the days of the Heian Court, men and women frequently lived apart and meeting one another was very difficult. Also, traditionally, if they were going to meet, it was the man’s role to meet the woman. Thus poetry was a very useful means of expressing one’s love, arranging meetings, etc. Here Sadakata uses the image of a vine pulling his lover to him (rather than him visiting her), but also a lot of clever word-play. The name of the place, Ōsaka (逢坂, no relation to the modern city) can mean “meeting place-hill”, while the name of the vine, sanekazura (Kadsura japonica), has the words sa ne in there, meaning “come, sleep!” according to Professor Mostow. Lastly, the word kuru can mean either “come” or to “reel in”.

2 responses to “Reel Her In: Poem Number 25”

  1. Hi,
    This is Hamid Zahoor from Tokyo, I am basically from Pakistan and associated with broadcasting since last 20 year. Along with it, I am also writer especially Urdu poem is my main focus. While going through this great website, I have found that author of poem 25 is Fujiwara no Sadakata (873-932), rather than “Fujiwara no Sadataka” as you mentioned here two times as under:

    First para/first line.
    Second para/4th line.

    Can you please make it confirm? if name is Fujiwara no “Sadataka”, please provide any reference.


    1. Yes, thank you for the correction. I have updated the page. It is “Sadataka”:

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