Getting Older: Poem Number 34

July 4, 2011

Hasegawa Tohaku, Pine Trees

A nice reminder about getting older is poem number 34:

誰をかも Tare o ka mo
知る人にせむ Shiru hito ni sen
高砂の Takasago no
松もむかしの Matsu mo mukashi no
友ならなくに Tomo nara naku ni

While Potter’s translation is:

GONE are my old familiar friends,
The men I used to know;
Yet still on Takasago beach
The same old pine trees-grow,
That I knew long ago.

Mostow offers a somewhat different translation, with a more melancholy tone:

Whom, then, shall I have
as someone who knows me—
since even the ancient pines
of Takasago
are not friends from my past.

Takasago is a famous place on Harima Bay in Japan, in what is now modern-day Hyōgo Prefecture, known for its ancient pine forests. Takasago is also mentioned in poem 71 as well, as Potter points out.

Fujiwara no Okikaze was one of the Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry (sanjūrokkasen, 三十六歌仙) according to Mostow, but details of his life, including birth and death, are not known.

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