The Master-Singers of Japan, by Clara A. Walsh, , at sacred-texts.com
Little personal is known of him. In A.D. 701 he joined the Embassy to China of Ahada no Ason Mabito, as undersecretary; in 721 he returned to Court and held office in the Eastern palace. Later he was appointed guardian or tutor to the Crown Prince, and afterwards governor of the province of Chilkuzen. He died in 733, aged 74. His poetry is perhaps the most vigorous and natural of all in the "Manyôshiu."
Written on 21st of the 7th Month of the Year 729 A.D.
With honour shalt thou treat alway,
Father and mother, first of all,
Then for thy wife and children care,
Nor fail thy duty to recall
To elder brother—nor to age
Cease to give all respect as due.
Nor to the friend who calls thee friend
Fail to be ever leal and true.
Such is the world-way, and, my friend,
Thou art enmeshed within those ways,
Nor knowest thou where thy life stream
Shall carry thee in coming days.
If thou mere human duties scorn
As a worn sandal cast aside,
Thou art no man, but stock-stone-born,
Lost in a selfish, senseless pride.
If thou couldst mount to Heaven's high plain,
Then thine own will might be thy guide,
But here on earth thou needs must dwell,
Here where our Sov’reign's rule is wide.
Under the sun and moon, as far
As the high clouds of Heaven glide,
Down to the toad's constricted realm,
All Both our Sov’reign's will abide,
Under the Sun and Moon—so wide!
So shall thy wayward will not sway
Thy conduct here!
The ways of shining Heaven are far:
Turn thee? ah S turn to things yet near;
Turn to thy earthly home, O friend!
And try to do thy duty here.
The shining flood of Heaven's River gleams,
A scarf of silver flung on utmost blue,
And on the shore whereby its radiance streams,
The lonely herdsman feels his grief anew.
Since those far days when all the world was young,
For weaver-maid his longing soul has pined,
And gazing on that flood his heart is wrung
With burning love-thoughts, passion undefined,
Fain would he cross in fair red-painted barque,
Furnished with trusty oars begemmed with spray,
To cleave the flood with level keel at dark,
Or with calm tides to cross at break of day.
So stands the lover by those waters wide,
Gazing all-piteous at the arching sky,
So stands he by the far-flung shining tide,
Gazing with many a heart-despairing sigh,
And waves her scarf, with which the wild winds play,
His arms outstretched, his soul with love afire,
While still the lagging Autumn makes delay,
Nor swift wings bridge the path to his desire!
(From the "Manyôshiu")
He rode towards Yamashiro,
That woman's lover on his steed,
And I, who saw him proudly go,
Sorrowed, to think my Lord had need
To go afoot, while he rode by!
Heart-vexed, I took nay mirror fair—
Bright-shining mirror, precious gift
Of her who nursed me—from my hair
Unbound, with trembling fingers swift,
My wimple winged like dragon-fly,
And bade my Lord to take them all
And buy a steed forthwith
(From the Manyôshiu")
Let the great mountains’ lofty pinnacles
Tower, till they touch the Ladder of the Skies,
Up which ascending, to the Moon-Lord's realm
Thence I may bring all humbly to my lord
Elixir for renewal of his youth,
In fadeless beauty and undying strength!
It is an awesome thing,
To meet a-wandering,
In the dark night,
The dark and rainy night,
A phantom greenish-grey,
Ghost of some wight,
Poor mortal wight!