Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter tanka! (pt 1)

Snow today in Philadelphia—perfect timing to get back to trying to choose 短歌 to write for winter. Fun, because among the possibilities there are always new thoughts, new kanji, new grammatical structures, new images, etc. I'm working with some pages of tanka that 先生 was kind enough to give us. じゃ、習字の日本語が読めない友達も詞を選べるために訳してみましょう!

(I take no responsibility for my attempts at translation below; some of the kanji, grammar, and kanji usage are pre-modern, so it's difficult, and even if they weren't I'd make no guarantees. I try to make the metrics work—57577—but it's not always obvious. でも、頑張りましょうね。)

I'll keep working with them and update these if I can find any more insights. 難しいなぁ。。。。

(Also, the new Blogger interface is weird about line breaks, so, apologies if they're wrong.)

正岡子規 MASAOKA shiki (1867–1902)
fuyu gomoru yamai no toko no garasu to no kumori nugueba tabi hoseru miyu
winter confinement—wiping the clouds (or mist, or frost) 
from the sickbed's glass door—seeing tabi hung out to dry

与謝野鉄幹 YOSANO tekkan (1873–1935)
ki no me saku, ushiro no hatake ni, shimo miete, kesa wa mi ni shimu, yamabato no koe
(Check out the amazing monument to him at Bicchuu Matsuyama Castle.) 
looking at the frost on the tree's buds in the back field, 
wrapped up, this morning; voice of a turtledove
(I'm making a guess at けさはみにしむ; けさ could probably also be "this morning", but a song lyric comes to me: 「闇を抱きしめる」, with "shimeru" as a kind of "wrapping oneself in", which kinda works with the cloak けさ/かさや. There also may be an image of frost blooming さく, but I can't identify the kanji after 木の. Something with 草冠, suggesting a plant connection. Addendum: Updated per tibonchina's help. Beyond my misunderstandings, I'd completely missed a phrase! Still not sure about 身にしむ.)

島赤彦 SHIMAKI akahiko (1876–1926)
ノート: 諏訪湖畔 (by Lake Suwa, Nagano)
mizuumi no
koori ha tokete
naho samushi
mikazuki no kage
nami ni utsurou
the ice on the lake is breaking up, but the chill continues; 
the crescent moon's light changes on the waves
(I'm being inconsistent with the transcriptions, I know. I'm taking なほ as なう, probably erroneously, but it seems to work in this context.) 

島木赤彦 SHIMAKI akahiko (1876–1926)
yuki fureba
yama yori kudaru 
kotori o hoshi
shouji no soto(?) ni 
hinemosu kiyu
as the snow falls, all day i hear, outside the shouji screens,  
many little birds, come down from the mountain
(I don't understand the image of dried shouji, but otherwise why ほし? Reminds me of a 茶の湯 friend's story that when she was a kid, whenever her mother was about to replace the shouji screens, she and her sister got to punch through all the paper. Also, I keep thinking that the image should be the voice of the bird coming down from the mountain, but I can't justify that from the poem. Addendum: ほし=多い. I'll have to revisit the meter when I know more [ie, anything] about classical forms.)

金子薫園 KANEKO kun'en (1896-1951)
me ni shimiru kureshi bakari no fuyuzora no aiiro ni shite tsuki hosoku ari
the sky is turning a winter-sky-just-past-sunset indigo that penetrates the eye; thin moon

I have a bunch more typed out but still need to figure them out to the minimal level.

- "hoshi" (star) is police slang for a suspect
- the kanji for "shouji" (paper screens) are "hinder" and "child" (障子—or, "hurt" and "child"! 当て字かも知れません。)


  1. 短歌#2: 木の芽(め)さく、うしろの畑(はたけ)に、霜(しも)見えて、けさは身にしむ、山鳩のこゑ
    この場合のけさは今朝(this morning)でしょう。 

    短歌#4: 小鳥おほし=小鳥多し。 冬が深くなると小鳥達は山から里(village)へ降りてくるので、外にその声が一日中聞こえる…という意味ですね。

    1. tibonchinaさん、どうもありがとうございました。 That makes much more sense! I'll update.

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