A Vow Broken Before the Gods: Poem Number 38

March 5, 2012

Takahata Fudo Pondside Shrine

The third poem in our series dedicated to women is another personal favorite:

忘らるる Wasuraruru
身をば思はず Mi wo ba omowazu
誓ひてし Chikaite shi
人の命の Hito no inochi no
惜しくもあるかな Oshiku mo aru kana

Which Professor Mostow translates as:

Forgotten by him,
I do not think of myself.
But I can’t help worry
about the life of the man who
swore so fervently before the gods!

The author, Ukon (右近), takes her sobriquet after her father’s position in the Court as Lesser Captain of the Right Bodyguards, or ukon-e no shōshō (右近衛少将). Apparently she was a busy woman. Like her father, she is said to have had a number of romantic liaisons, but she also actively participated in poetry contests, served as a lady in waiting to the Empress and is mentioned in a later text called the Tales of Yamato.

Professor Mostow explains that there are historically two interpretations to this poem. One interpretation is that she wrote the letter to her cold lover, conveying a mean, sarcastic tone, while the other explanation is more of a private letter to herself. This second meaning then sounds less harsh in tone, and more tragic.

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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 )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: