Ah, The Nostalgia: Poem Number 84

I found this one randomly in the Hyakunin Isshu, and thought it would be interesting to post:

ながらへば Nagaraeba
またこの頃や mata konogoro ya
しのばれむ shinobaren
憂しと見し世ぞ ushi to mishi yo zo
今は恋しき ima wa koi shiki

Which Professor Mostow translates as:

If I live on longer,
shall I again, I wonder,
yearn for these days?
The world that I once saw as
bitter, now, is dear to me!

The author of this poem is Fujiwara no Kiyosuke Ason (1104-1177) who was the second son of Fujiwara no Akisuke (poem 79). He was a very prolific author, and was commissioned to compile a new imperial anthology for Emperor Nijō, but because the emperor passed away before completion, it was not made into an official anthology.

I was struck by this poem, because it shows how people’s memories soften over time. When people go through a difficult time, it seems very bitter and painful, yet many years later, they yearn for the nostalgia. I think it’s something we all do as we get older, and a nice reminder how people 1,000 years ago in Japan really weren’t all that different than people today. 🙂

P.S. Speaking of nostalgia (and comic relief).

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