Disheleved: Poem Number 80

“Gypsy in Reflection”, by Gustave Courbet, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A clever morning-after love poem that I felt was fun to share:

長からむNagakaranI do not even know
心もしらずKokoro mo shirazuhow long your feelings will last.
黒髪のKurokami noMy long black hair
みだれてけさはMidarete kesa wais all disheveled and, this morning,
物をこそ思へMono wo koso omoemy thoughts too are in a tangle!
Translation by Dr Joshua Mostow

The author of this poem is Lady Horikawa of the Taikenmon-In (dates unknown). She served in the court of Empress Taiken who was the consort to Emperor Toba, and was the mother of Emperor Sutoku (poem 77) who was later exiled.

The use of imagery of “disheveled hair” was a common device often used by women, or writing poetry about women, to express feelings of frustration or anxiety.

As we’ve seen before, morning-after poems were very popular at this time in Japan as many of the aristocracy of the Heian Court would have love trysts between each other. Often the first meeting was the morning important, not surprisingly. It set the tone for the rest of the relationship, so a meeting like this was often celebrated in poetry.

Of course, there was another side to these trysts in the Heian Period too.

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