This is one of my favorite poems as of late:
|あしびきの||Ashibiki no||LONG is the mountain pheasant’s tail|
|山鳥の尾の||Yamadori no ō no||That curves down in its flight;|
|しだり尾の||Shidari no ō no||But longer still, it seems to me,|
|ながながし夜を||naga nagashi yo wo||Left in my lonely plight,|
|ひとりかもねむ||hitori kamo nen||Is this unending night.|
The yamadori (山鳥) is actually a species of bird called the Copper Pheasant, known for its long tail. The poem is otherwise pretty straightforward. One thing I like about this poem, and why I have a particular interest in it, is the repetitive sounds using の (no) throughout. If you recite the poem out loud, it has a particular nice rhythm to it, and for me it is particular easy to memorize/recite. Try it out and you’ll see what I mean.
In a later post, I’ll talk about the Hyakunin Isshu iPhone app I purchased, which has a particularly nice recitation of this and other poems.
As for Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, the author, he was one of the pre-eminent poets of the Asuka Period in Japan, and you can probably see why. While the poem looks like any other love poem, the composition, imagery, rhythm and such, make this one really stand out. 🙂