A Sad Autumn Moon: Poem Number 23

September 29, 2012

Nishimura Shigenaga - Four Seasons – Autumn Moon above the Reception Room

The Hyakunin Isshu is full of poems about Autumn as we’ve seen so far, and this is another example:

月見れば Tsuki mireba
千々に物こそ Chiji ni mono koso
悲しけれ Kanashi kere
わが身ひとつの Waga mi hitotsu no
秋にはあらねど Aki ni wa aranedo

Which Professor Mostow translates as:

When I look at the moon
I am overcome by the sadness
of a thousand, thousand things—
even though it is not Fall
for me alone.

The author, Ōe no Chisato, is the nephew of Yukihira (poem 16) and Narihira (poem 17) and boasted a famous collection of his own called the Kudai Waka.

Similar to poem 22, this poem has influence from Chinese Six Dynasties style, but as Mostow explains, the poem reflects a change where Chinese poetic style is adapted into more native Japanese style. Mostow explains that the poem may allude to a famous poetic line by Bo Juyi.

As mentioned before, the moon plays a really important role in the Hyakunin Isshu, and poetry in general. But also, it’s a source of festivities too. In Japan, the 15th lunar day of the 8th month (harvest moon in the West), marks a fun time called o-tsukimi or “moon-viewing”. More on that in the other blog coming soon.

As for the poem, it kind of expresses a quiet humility too, I think, which is why I always find it one of the most memorable. The Moon inspires a lot of deep feelings, but this poem reminds us that it does not shine just for us.

Happy Moon Viewing everyone!

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One Response to “A Sad Autumn Moon: Poem Number 23”

  1. eeeee804@gmail.com said

    very very goooooood poem

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