The Morning After: Poem Number 50

Sunrise at Ujibashi(bridge in front of Kotaijingu(Naiku)), on the next morning of the Winter Solstice, Tawashi2006, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

To celebrate our 50th poem on this blog, I am posting poem 50, which happens to be a particularly good one:

JapaneseRomanizationTranslation
君がためKimi ga tameEven the life that
惜しからざりしOshi karazarashiI’d not have been sorry to lose
命さへInochi saejust to meet you once,
ながくもがなとNagaku mo gana tonow, having met, I think:
おもひけるかなOmoi keru ka na“I want it to last forever!”
Translation by Dr Joshua Mostow

This poem was composed by one Fujiwara Yoshitaka, third son of Fujiwara Koremasa (poem 45). It was composed and sent after spending the night with his lover. These kind of “morning after” poems are very common at the time because lovers could not meet openly during the day, so they often met at night and slept together. The term for this kind of poem is kinuginu no uta (後朝の歌), and were often a way of sharing feelings after the two have parted company.

As Mostow also explains, it’s not clear why he valued his life so little, but the main interpretation is that he loved her so much, he was willing to throw his life away just to meet her. Other interpretations are, among other things, that he would have thrown away his life for her sake if he could.

What really makes this poem extra tragic though, is that Yoshitaka died at the age of twenty (he lived from 954 to 974), from smallpox. We don’t know what happened between him and his lover, but at least his words live on.

Anyhow, we’re at the halfway-point of this blog, and I wanted to thank everyone for your support. The biggest thanks go to Professor Mostow who graciously allowed me to use his translations for this blog (if you like to study the Hyakunin Isshu more in depth, I recommend his book).

And we’ve still got 50 to go. 🙂

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3 responses to “The Morning After: Poem Number 50”

  1. That’s such a beuatiful poem! Thank you for translating it.

    1. Thanks Tulio and welcome. Actually I didn’t translate the poem (Professor Mostow did), but I am glad you enjoy. Hopefully he will read this too.

  2. Hi. Thank you for all the translation and backstory for all the poems. Am learning them now and this makes my memorisation so much more fun.
    Btw is there a mistake in your romanji “zarashi” it should be “zarishi” I believe.

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