A Cold Winter’s Night: Poem Number 6

February 26, 2011


かささぎの Kasasagi no
わたせる橋に wataseru hashi ni
おく霜の oku shimo no
白きを見れば shiro wo mireba
夜ぞふけにける yo zo fuke ni keru

And Professor Mostow’s translation:

When I see the whiteness
of the frost that lies
on the bridge the magpies spread,
then do I know, indeed,
that the night has deepened.

The reference to the Magpie’s Bridge is from two places: the Imperial Palace at the time had a set of stairs called Magpie’s Bridge, but also in later generations, this also refered to the famous legend of Tanabata. On the night when Orihime and Hikoboshi would meet every year, they could cross a bridge made of magpies whose wings were extended end to end.

In both ways, the poem expresses a lonely, long, and cold winter’s night.

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