Disheleved: Poem Number 80

October 25, 2013

Courbet Gypsy in Reflection

A clever morning-after love poem that I felt was fun to share:

長からむ Nagakaran
心もしらず Kokoro mo shirazu
黒髪の Kurokami no
みだれてけさは Midarete kesa wa
物をこそ思へ Mono wo koso omoe

Which Professor Mostow translates:

I do not even know
how long your feelings will last.
My long black hair
is all disheveled and, this morning,
my thoughts too are in a tangle!

The author of this poem is Lady Horikawa of the Taikenmon In (dates unknown). She served in the court of Empress Taiken who was the consort to Emperor Toba, and was the mother of Emperor Sutoku (poem 77) who was later exiled.

The use of imagery of “disheveled hair” was a common device often used by women, or writing poetry about women, to express feelings of frustration or anxiety.

As we’ve seen before, morning-after poems were very popular at this time in Japan as many of the aristocracy of the Heian Court would have love trysts between each other. Often the first meeting was the morning important, not surprisingly. It set the tone for the rest of the relationship, so a meeting like this was often celebrated in poetry.

Of course, there was another side to these trysts in the Heian Period too.

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