Reel Her In: Poem Number 25

February 9, 2012


This is the third poem in the series dedicated to Valentine’s Day:

名にしおはば Na ni shi owaba
逢坂山の Osakayama no
さねかづら Sanekazura
人にしられで Hito ni shirarede
くるよしもがな Kuru yoshi mo gana

Which Professor Mostow translates as:

If they bear such names:
the “come-sleep vine” of
“Meeting-Slope Hill” —
how I wish there was a way to come to you,
as if pulling in a vine, unknown to others.

The poem was composed by Fujiwara no Sadakata (873-932) who was the father of Fujiwara no Asatada (poem 44) and brother of Kanesuke (poem 27). He was a minor poet in the day, whose poetry appeared in a few collections.

In the days of the Heian Court, men and women frequently lived apart and meeting one another was very difficult. Also, traditionally, if they were going to meet, it was the man’s role to meet the woman. Thus poetry was a very useful means of expressing one’s love, arranging meetings, etc. Here Sadakata uses the image of a vine pulling his lover to him (rather than him visiting her), but also a lot of clever word-play. The name of the place, Ōsaka (逢坂, no relation to the modern city) can mean “meeting place-hill”, while the name of the vine, sanekazura has the words sa ne in there, meaning “come, sleep!” according ot Professor Mostow. Lastly, the word kuru can mean either “come” or to “reel in”.

2 Responses to “Reel Her In: Poem Number 25”

  1. Hamid Zahoor said

    This is Hamid Zahoor from Tokyo, I am basically from Pakistan and associated with broadcasting since last 20 year. Along with it, I am also writer especially Urdu poem is my main focus. While going through this great website, I have found that author of poem 25 is Fujiwara no Sadakata (873-932), rather than “Fujiwara no Sadataka” as you mentioned here two times as under:

    First para/first line.
    Second para/4th line.

    Can you please make it confirm? if name is Fujiwara no “Sadataka”, please provide any reference.


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