The Master-Singers of Japan, by Clara A. Walsh, , at sacred-texts.com
Departing from Naniha on a Mission to China
E’en as the hart, who ardent woos his mate
When the bush-clover opens purple blooms,
Hath one son only, even thus am I
Mother of only one, who even now
On a far journey fares, in a strange land,
With but, perchance, grass-pillow for his head.
Wherefore close-threaded beads of bamboo rings
And brimming jars of saké I set forth,
And shining yufu cloths, before the shrine,
Praying the mighty God, with humble prayers,
To bring my loved one safely home to me!
(From the "Manyôshiu")
In the upper reaches of the river,
Hatsusé's secluded upper reaches,
Dive the eager cormorants, respondent
To the will and bidding of their keepers.
In the lower waters cormorants diving
Many shining fishes let to swallow.
Fair and bright was she who now is lying,
Parted from me, a full bow-shot, lying,
And my heart is burdened down with sorrow,
Full of thoughts of her and full of sorrow.
Rudely torn may be a hempen mantle,
Yet a skilful hand may join it fitly;
Snapped may be the string where pearls are threaded,
Yet the thread all swiftly be re-knotted;
But, my dear one, you and I once parted
Never more may meet—ah! nevermore!
By the Lady Sakanohe no Isatsune
My Lord had vowed that with deep constancy
Firm-rooted as the sturdy sedge that grow
In the clear pools of Naniha—so he
Would love and guard me through the golden years.
I gave my heart to him (ah! foolish heart!
Yet stainless as a mirror's burnished face)—
Into his keeping, and on him I leaned,
Trusting in him, as sailor in his ship
Nor, as the drifting seaweed to and fro,
Backwards and forwards in the swirling tides,
Has my love wavered from that very hour!
Yet now, perchance, the mighty gods have willed
To part us twain. Or is it evil words
Of envious mortals? For he comes no more,
My Lord who came so often! neither sends
White-wanded messenger to tell me why.
From the red dawn until the dense night falls,
And all the hours of darkness through I weep
Hopeless and helpless. Plain for all to see
My misery, and weeping like a babe,
I wander forth, nor waiting, dare to hope
For word or message from the one I love!
(Lay 194 from the "Manyôshiu")
No bird-songs at dawn-breaking, sound by the lonely sea,
Where sleeps he, never waking;
Behind him, faintly looming, the solemn mountains lie;
Before him, waves dull booming.
On shining seaweed pillow, he rests on pebbly shore,
Drenched by each wind-tossed billow.
Not even mantle closing, with wings of dragon-fly,
Around his form reposing.
All lone he lies, as sleeping forgetful of the world,
Of laughter or of weeping.
Once loved him—Father, Mother, haply young wife and fair
Loved him above all other.
But never word of greeting, from him to them shall pass,
Nevermore place of meeting!
Vainly a message seeking, homeplace and name tell not
Lips like a babe's unspeaking.
Piteous the sight, heart-rending, but such the world's sad way,
All things to silence tending
(From the "Manyôshiu")
Fair lady, tripping o’er yon bridge,
Spanning the foaming river's bed,
Who, scarlet-robed with mantle blue,
Crosses the lacquered arch of red—
I wonder, as I watch your form
All unattended and alone,
If in your homeplace gallant spouse
Claims your sweet beauty as his own;
Or if like single acorn, still
Unmated and forlorn you pine!
And nameless still, and still unknown,
Your name and dwelling would divine.
(From the "Manyôshiu"—8th Century)
To grace the Imperial Reign
All gold the flowers grow
On all the heights of Michinoku glow
The glittering blooms.
Imperial eyes might deign
To glance upon the precious flowers that grow
(From the "Manyôshiu")
By Prince Aki, A.D. 740
On Isé's sea
The white foam-blossoms play.
Would they were blooms
From out whose fair array
Choosing the best
I might select a spray
For her I love!
By Prince Aki
The Moon is a barque on the sea of the skies,
Where stormy and grey the cloud-billows arise,
Nor tempest, nor calm, her serenity mars
As she glides on her way to the groves of the stars!
Now ere the rough caress
Of the Spring breeze has tangled carelessly
The young green willows' slender silken threads,
Now would I show them in their fresh young grace
Unto my love!
Not yet is past the cherry's blossom-time;
Yet should the petals fall,
Now, while their beauty's moon is at the full,
And all the love of those who gaze on them
Is at its zenith—
A great minister and scholar; after holding high office, was banished as Governor of Kyūshū, and died in A.D. 903. His death was said to have been followed by evil portents and disasters to his foes. He is worshipped as a God of Calligraphy—and plum-trees are planted near his temple, his crest being plum-blossom.
By Sugiwara no Michizane
I carry to the Shrine no offering
This Autumn day,
Fairer than any gift that I could bring,
The rich display
Of gold and crimson on Tamuke's side.
The gods can revel in the maples' pride!
By Fujiwara Toshiyuki
Through flow’ring branches
Pour the sudden showers,
Warm showers through branches
What if they soak me,
So the glistening flowers
Let me partake
Their fragrance of the Spring!
54:* Azuma,—an eastern Province of Japan whose mountains contain gold and mica.