Being in Love: Poem Number 40

July 10, 2011

Lakhovsky Conversation

忍ぶれど Shinoburedo
色に出でにけり Iro ni ide ni keri
わが恋は Waga koi wa
物や思ふと Mono ya omou to
人の問ふまで Hito no tou made

For which Professor Mostow translates as:

Even though I hide it,
it shows all over my face,
such is my longing,
so that people ask me
“What are you thinking about?

According to Mostow’s book, this poem by Taira no Kanemori was part of a famous poetry contest in 960, and was pitted again poem number 41 by Mibu no Tadami.

The judges couldn’t decide which poem was the winner, so after consulting with other poetry experts (who also couldn’t decide), they came before Emperor Murakami and sought his opinion about which poem was superior. According to the story, the Emperor hummed the verses from this poem under his breath, tactfully judging Taira no Kanemori’s poem the winner.

Mostow points out that the poem is highly regarded for it’s combination of excellent prose, mixed with a more natural style at the end. Anyone who’s been in love before can certainly sympathize. 🙂

Taira no Kanemori is also one of the Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry (sanjūrokkasen, 三十六歌仙), and his family, the Taira Clan or Heike (平家), would totally dominate Japanese politics centuries later under Taira no Kiyomori, only to be tragically swept aside in the disastrous Genpei War by their rivals, the Minamoto.

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One Response to “Being in Love: Poem Number 40”

  1. shiroisunlucky said

    Reblogged this on kuuru..

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