Feb 102013
 

Achingly sad, yet exquisitely delicate. It’s so…Japanese.

Since I speak little Japanese and no variety of Chinese, all the Japanese poems on this site are drawn from (Israeli!) scholar Yoel Hoffman’s excellent Japanese Death Poems, and translated into Hebrew from his English prose translations. For legal reasons and because I am lazy, the English translation you’ll find below is actually a re-translation from the Hebrew, rather than Hoffman’s original English. Whether a translation is still valid after all these games of cross-linguistic telephone I don’t know, since I can’t read the originals (which Hoffman doesn’t provide anyway), but they maintain their internal logic, I think, so…s’all good.

קאקינומוטו היטומארו (המאה השמינית)
אהבתיה כעלים

 
אֲהַבְתִּיהָ כָעָלִים
עָלֵי אָבִיב הָרַעֲנָנִים
הַמַּכְבִּידִים עֲלֵי עַנְפֵי הָעֲרָבִים
הָעוֹמְדוֹת עֲלֵי גָדָה בוֹלֶטֶת
שֶׁעָלֶיהָ הִתְהַלַּכְנוּ יַחַד, שְׁנֵינוּ
בְּעוֹד הֱיוֹתָהּ בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה.
עָלֶיהָ נִבְנוּ חַיַּי;
אַךְ לֹא נִתַּן לְבֶן תְּמוּתָה
לַהֲפֹךְ אֶת מִשְׁפַּט הָעוֹלָם.
אֱלֵי הַקָּמָה, אֱלֵי נִצְנוּץ אֹבֶךְ הַשָּׁרָב,
מֻסְוֵית בְּתוֹךְ עָנָן לָבָן,
לְבָנָה כְלִבְנַת צְעִיף תּוּת,
דָּאֲתָה כְצִפּוֹר־שַׁחַר
מֻסְוֵית מֵעוֹלָמֵנוּ כַּשֶּׁמֶשׁ בְּצֵאתָהּ.
הַיֶּלֶד שֶׁהִפְקִידָה לִי לְמַזְכֶּרֶת
מְיַבֵּב, מִתְחַנֵּן לְמָזוֹן,
וּמֵאֵין מַה לְתִתּוֹ,
כַּצִּפּוֹרִים הָאוֹרוֹת גַּרְגִּירֵי אֹרֶז בִּמְקוֹרֵיהֶן,
אֲנִי מְרִימוֹ, אֲנִי אוֹחֲזוֹ בִזְרוֹעוֹתַי,
עַל־יַד הַמַצָּעִים שֶׁעֲלֵיהֶם שָׁכַבְנוּ,
כְּאֶחָד, אִשְׁתִּי וָאֲנִי.
בָּדָד אַעֲבִיר אֶת אוֹר הַיּוֹם עֲדֵי דִמְדּוּמִים,
בַּלַּיְלָה הַשָּׁחֹר אֶשְׁכַּב בַּאֲנָחוֹת עֲדֵי נֶשֶׁף.
אֶאֱבַל, וְלֹא אֵדַע מְנוּחָה:
אֶעֱרֹג, וְלֹא אֶמְצָא דֶרֶךְ אֵלֶיהָ.
אֲהוּבָתִי, אוֹמְרִים,
נִמְצֵאת בְּהָרֵי הַגַּאי.
אָז אִיגַע לְהַגִּיעַ הֵנָּה,
אֲנַפֵּץ שֳׁרְשֵׁי-אֲבָנִים בְּדַרְכִּי,
וְלֹא אֶשְׂמַח.
כִּי מֵהֱיוֹתָהּ, כְּפִי שֶׁהֵכַּרְתִּיהָ בָעוֹלָם הַזֶּה,
לֹא אֶמְצָא שֶׁמֶץ.1
י
  1. I loved her like the leaves
    the verdant spring leaves
    weighing down the branches of the willows
    that stand upon a jutting bank
    we would walk together
    while she was yet of this world.
    My life was built upon her;
    but no mortal man was given the strength
    to invert the decree of the world.
    Towards the fields, towards the glimmer of the haze of the heatwave,
    veiled within a white cloud,
    pale as the white of a mulberry scarf,
    she soared like a dawn bird,
    veiled from our world like the sun as it sets.
    The child she left as a keepsake
    whimpers, begs for food,
    and having nothing to give him,
    like the birds gathering grains of rice in their beaks,
    I lift him up, I hold him tight in my arms,
    beside the bed upon which we lay,
    as one body, my wife and I.
    Alone I must pass the day’s light until twilight,
    in the black night I lay awake sighing ’til dawn.
    I mourn, yet I know no rest:
    I yearn, yet I find no way to reach her.
    My love, it is said,
    is amongst the mountains of Hagai.
    So I strive to make my way there,
    breaking the roots of rocks as I go,
    and know no contentment.
    For of the way that she was, as I knew her in this world,
    I will find no trace.

    (Kakinomoto Hitomaru, 8th century)

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

(required)

(required)

Are you a Russian spam robot? Prove it: *