Catch Me If You Can: Poem Number 72

July 11, 2013

Sal plage

This is a more light-hearted poem in contrast to the previous one:

音にきく Oto ni kiku
高師の浜の Takashi no hama no
あだ浪は Adanami wa
かけじや袖の Kakeji ya sode no
ぬれもこそすれ Nure mo koso sure

Which Professor Mostow translates as:

Known far and wide,
the unpredictable waves
of Takashi’s beach—
I will not let them catch me—
For I’d be sorry should my sleeves get wet!

The author of this poem is only known as “Kii of Princess Yūshi’s Household” (dates unknown). She served in the household of Imperial Princess Yūshi, and was the daughter of Taira no Tsunekata and one Lady Koben. The salon of Princess Yūshi included a number of poets and writers and it seems Kii was no exception. She participated in a number of poetry contests and her poems appear in various anthologies.

Speaking of contests, Professor Mostow explains that this poem actually was intended as a response to another poem in a competition held by Retired Emperor Horikawa. Kii was 70 years old at the time according to another source, which is impressive given that she expresses young love so easily after all these years.

But where is Takashi beach? I checked and it seems to be a famous beach in Osaka Bay, near modern-day Takaishi City in the Osaka Metropolitan Area.

Intresting fact: the other poem she was responding to, was written by none other than the grandfather of Fujiwara no Teika, who is the compiler of the Hyakunin Isshu anthology. Interesting how things tie together the way they do. 🙂

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