Love Burns Like A Torch: Poem Number 49

February 7, 2012

Courtesy of Wikipedia

The first of a series of poems dedicated to Valentine’s Day:

みかき守 MIkakimori
衛士のたく火の Eji no taku hi no
夜はもえ Yoru wa moe
昼は消えつつ Hiru wa kie tsutsu
物をこそおもへ Mono wo koso moe

Which Professor Mostow translates as:

Like the fire the guardsman kindles,
guarding the imperial gates:
at night, burning,
in the day, exhausted,
over and over, so I long for her.

The author, Ōnakatomi no Yoshinobu, was the grandfather of Ise no Tayū (poem number 61) and a prolific poet in his time, and one of the Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry. According to Mostow, was also one of the “Five Gentlemen of the Pear Chamber” (nashi tsubo no gonin 梨壺の五人), with the Pear Chamber referring to a special room within the Court ladies’ residence of the Imperial Palace, which in turn was named after a special pear tree within the Palace gardens in the Ladies’ Quarter. This implied a very high honor indeed for Yoshinobu who was a member of the Inner Court.

Interestingly, Mostow suggests that the poem was in fact not written by Yoshinobu, owing to the fact that it does not appear in Yoshinobu’s personal collection and is listed as “anonymous” in other collections.

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