読者です 読者をやめる 読者になる 読者になる

和歌ブログ [Japanese Waka]

国文系大学院生がひたすら和歌への愛を語る記録

Japanese Waka -Sakura : My life would last until the next spring – Kokoroaraba nioiwosoeyo sakurabana nochinoharuwoba itsukamirubeki.

The retired emperor composed this waka when he saw a fully bloomed sakura-flower at his Imperial villa in the spring of the year after his 50th birthday ceremony.
Kokoroaraba nioiwosoeyo sakurabana nochinoharuwoba itsukamirubeki.
(The Senzai Wakashū (an imperial anthology of Japanese waka poetry), miscellaneous, Retired-Emperor Toba (male), 1052, 12C)

 

日本語(Japanese)

 

Translation into modern Japanese

The retired emperor composed this waka when he saw a fully bloomed sakura-flower at his Imperial villa in the spring of the year after his 50th birthday ceremony.

 

If you feel sorry to me (for my short remaining life), please, Sakura, bloom beautifully (ever you had).  Would I be possibly see the next spring? (No, it would not be possible as my life would last only in this year.)

 

 

Detailed explanation of the contents

At first, I shall clarify the back ground of the waka.  The author, the retired Emperor Toba, who held supreme power after he retired emperor and reigned as a master of the Toba imperial house.  This era was called ¨Insei-ki (the period of government by cloistered emperors).” ¨The 50th birthday ceremony” - it was a cerebration for long life (50 years) as majority of people died around 40 in those era, he lived very long life.  As it was the Retired-Emperor's long lived birthday, the cerebration was huge.  In the following year, he saw the sakura in its booming period. The sakura he saw every year in his  Imperial villa, now It broomed for him.

 

Long lived, means in a way, the remaining life is short.   Until his age (51), he didn't think, rather, he thought sakura is the plant which scatter quickly.  Now he was facing his death, the sakura would bloom in the next year but he had no guarantee on that he could live in the following year.

Being the top In the late period of Heian era and he became the master of Toba  Imperial villa. The Retired-Emperor Toba over-powered the Emperor and the governmental advisor family (of the time).  He was a ¨Chiten no kimi (Emperor who governed everything in Japan in the era),” but he could not rule his life,

 

The archaic word ¨nioi” suggests beauty not only by the sense of smell but also by sight.  Translating this ¨nioiwosoeyo” is not straight forwards, as it is strange thing to say ¨bloome more beautifully” to the sakura-flowers which are in the best blooming stage.   He asks the most beautiful flowers to be even more beautiful flowers that don't exist in the world, having known his life is not so long, and he thinks seeing the sakura could be the last one.  It is also strange thing to say ¨if you feel” to the sakura-tree.  Saying ¨if you have a heart (to feel), bloom more beautifully” to sakura doesn't do any.  As if he try to make things impossible to be possible, in the same way, asking to live longer is impossible about his life.  

The retired emperor was surrounede by the fully bloomed sakura, warm spring wind and people's cerebration, still he knew his life last mot much longer.  His moment with the sakura which lasts forever within his mind (in his waka).

 

So far, I have written my version of the translation, but if you ask me how much I understand this poem, I am not sure whether I fully understand this poem.  I think I know his feeling and about everyone dies. I know I might die tomorrow and the world will go on without me.  The thing I don't understand is ¨the spring in the year after 50th birthday cerebration.” I haven't yet understood about getting old, and how I would count the remaining years left when I get old.   This waka is the poem about the author's feeling of death after getting old.  As the sight from a high place is different from the sight from a low place, the death which young people imagine would be different from the one which is seen by the people who crimed up the age stairs.  If so, I might not fully understand the death which the author expressed in this waka. 

Having said that, I've been caught in this phrase: ¨notchinoharuwoba itsukamirubeki” for some times.  Every time we see Sakura, we realise a year past.  Our lives pass as if sands fall, and I as well would see the last sakura – I can see all those in just the 14 hiraganas (14 syllables). 

 

Dying and getting old would not be the same thing, and I haven't understood the real side of getting old in the poem.  It is strange that we can imaginatively experience things for ourselves, and also it is strange that there are things which we have to actually experience to understand.  Well, you all would have known this already though. 

 

If you wish to use the English translated text from this site at elsewhere, please quote the name of this site and put the link.                             (English translation by BCat.)

 

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