The sixth poem in our series dedicated to Valentine’s Day is one of hidden love:
|浅茅生の||Asajiu no||Though I reveal my love|
|小野の篠原||Ono no shinohara||as sparingly as the sparse reeds|
|忍ぶれど||Shinoburedo||that grow in low bamboo fields,|
|あまりてなどか||Amarite nado ka||it overwhelms me—why is it|
|人の恋しき||Hito no koishiki||that I must love her so?|
The author of the poem was Sangi Minamoto no Hitoshi (880-951), who according to Mostow held many provincial posts, but is lesser known in the poetry world. Apparently the poem was sent to a woman, and is a fine specimen of love poetry.
The poem, when read aloud in Japanese, has a nice sound to it, owing to the way that shinohara and shinobu repeat, but also the poem has a nice contrast to it. According to Professor Mostow, the fourth line reverses the idea of scarcity with talk of being overwhelmed by love creating a kind of balance in the poem.
Hopefully the girl was impressed. 🙂
One final note: the poem alludes to a couple plants of note:
- one is chigaya (茅, Cogongrass, imperata cylindrica), which in the poem is called asajiu.
- the other is a kind of thin bamboo grass called shinodaké (篠竹, pleioblastus simonii?), more commonly know as medaké in modern Japanese.
The scene described in the poem is a mixed field with taller bamboo grass poking out above a field of shorter reed grass.
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