Long Goodbyes: Poem Number 30

January 2, 2013

Sunrise in Southeast Alaska - NOAA

Hi all,

New year is here, and I guess it’s time to say “goodbye” to the old one. This poem is also happens to be about good-byes of another sort.

有明の Ariake no
つれなくみえし tsurenaku misehi
別れより wakare yori
暁ばかり akatsuki bakari
うきものはなし uki mono wa nashi

Which Professor Mostow translates as:

There is nothing so depressing
as the break of day and
leaving you after
having seen the heartless
morning moon.

The author, Mibu no Tadamine, is one of the Thirty-Six Immortals of Poetry and was the father of Tadami (poem 41). He was also one of the official compilers of the official anthology, the Kokinshū along with Ōshikōchi no Mitsune (poem 29).

By all accounts, this appears to be another famous “morning after poem”, similar to the one seen in poem 50. The term, ariake (有明) is a poetic term for the last-rising moon, in the last-half of the lunar cycle, which you can still see in the morning. On the other hand, as Professor Mostow points out, the fact that the moon was heartless could also imply lover who spent all night waiting to see his lover but was never received and finally went home at dawn.

Either way, the morning moon seems to carry a lot of significance for romantic types back then.

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