Composing a Waka for the theme “snow”.
Umenohana furioouyukiwo tutumimotchi kiminimisemuto torebakenitutu.
(The Man'yōshū (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves), Spring/other, Unknown author, 1833, 8C )
Translation into modern Japanese
(The poem was) composed for the them: snow.
Ume-flower – When I tried to hold some snow which was (slowly) accumulated on Ume-tree and gently covered the Ume-flower in my palm as they were and wished to show them to you, the snow was (quickly escaped and) disappeared. (I wish I could show this beautiful scene to you..)
Detailed explanation of the contents
Snow on Ume-flower is an ordinary scenery, but “furioouyukiwo tutumimotchi” - this expression is excellent. The beautiful snow which had fallen on Ume-tree as if giving a hug to the Ume-flower and just before falling down to the ground. This waka expresses the gentle hug between the snow and the flower very well. And “kiminimisemu” - “mu” is a particle which is used to express “wish”. The author tried to show “you” (his loved one?), so that he gently hold the snow in his palm. “Tutumimotchi” is not just an action of “hold” but carefully hold. However the snow was quickly disappeared. This would let him have a moment of lost feeling and thought of his lover's figure.
Well, of course, we don't know if “kimi (you)” refers a lover or a friend, or maybe his family, but I think “furioouyukiwo tutumimotchi” is very gently and warm expression. So I think the person who the author wished to show this snow must also be in gentle and warm relationship with him. This person could be his longterm friend. All his good thinking was end with “kenitutu”. The beautiful scene, which he wanted to share with the important person, was disappeared, when he put his hand on, when he was about to say “look this”. How momentary and beautiful small scene it was! This waka was composed in 8C, maybe, this was a poem of the love of a man who lived somewhere in Japan very longtime ago.
There are many people who appreciate when we give something beautiful, but the people, who could appreciate a story of a lost beautiful scene (like the poem), would hardly exist. “I saw a very beautiful thing, and I tried to hold them because I wanted to show them, but it's gone!” - if a person who could smile when she heard this, I think the person must be a very precious lover for you.
Umenohana = Ume-flower /furi=it's snowing /oou = covered
yuki =snow / tutumimotchi = carefully hold
kimi =you /ni =to / misemu =wished to show them
toreba= I tried to hold /kenitutu= disappeared
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(English translation by BCat.)