The Joys of Marriage: Poem Number 54

February 11, 2012

Hinamatsuri Set

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

忘れじの Wasureji no
行末までは Yukusue made wa
難ければ Katakereba
今日を限りの Kyo wo kagiri no
命ともがな Inochi to mo gana

Which Professor Mostow translates as:

Because that future, until which,
you say, you will “never forget,”
is hard to rely on,
oh, if only today could be
the last day of my life!

This poem was composed by Takako (d. 996), also known as “Kishi”, who was the wife of Fujiwara no Michitaka, and the mother of Empress Teishi (whom Sei Shonagon served and wrote about frequently in the Pillow Book). She is listed in the Hyakunin Isshu as “Mother of the Supernumerary Grand Minister” (giōsanshi no haha 儀同三司母) due to the tremendous power wielded by her son, Fujiwara no Korechika for a time.

Takako herself was from an elite family, and had considerable talent in Chinese poetry, which allowed her to win competitions over many learned gentleman. No doubt this helped her catch the eye of the ambitious and rising star that was Fujiwara no Michitaka. This poem was, according to Mostow, composed shortly after their wedding, with all the joy and excitement about the future that comes with marriage. Sadly, when Michitaka later passed away, she took tonsure as a Buddhist nun and left behind few other poems.

Speaking as one who’s happily married myself, I can definitely understand her excitement that day, even a thousand years later. 🙂

The photo above was taken by me of the doll set we keep at home for Girl’s Day, a holiday celebrated in early March. It symbolizes the happy marriage of the Emperor and Empress, and the aspirations of young women everywhere for a happy life with the man of their dreams.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: