Love Hidden Among the Reeds: Poem Number 39

February 12, 2012

Reeds

The sixth poem in our series dedicated to Valentine’s Day is one of hidden love:

浅茅生の Asajiu no
小野の篠原 Ono no shinohara
忍ぶれど Shinoburedo
あまりてなどか Amarite nado ka
人の恋しき Hito no koishiki

Which Professor Mostow translates as:

Though I reveal my love
as sparingly as the sparse reeds
that grow in low bamboo fields,
it overwhelms me—why is it
that I must love her so?

The author of the poem was Sangi Minamoto no Hitoshi (880-951), who according to Mostow held many provincial posts, but is lesser known in the poetry world. Apparently the poem was sent to a woman, and is a fine specimen of love poetry.

The poem, when read aloud in Japanese, has a nice sound to it, owing to the way that shinohara and shinobu repeat, but also the poem has a nice contrast to it. According to Professor Mostow, the fourth line reverses the idea of scarcity with talk of being overwhelmed by love creating a kind of balance in the poem.

Hopefully the girl was impressed. 🙂

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