larryhammer: topless woman lying prone with Sappho painted on her back, label: "Greek poetry is sexy" (classics)
Well this is ... interesting.
1. Quarreling.

O Goddess, chant it out, the choler grown
In Peleus' son, aggrieved Achilleus,
Simply deathful, sheerly doleful for
Achaians; wholly numerous warrior souls

It sent to Hades but to dog-throngs down
By Troy and divers birds the corporal dead
In piles it highly proffered, all for prey,
And Zeus’s will thus came to pass outright,

As this began when first Atreyedes,
Monarch of chiliad-lancers, and Achilleus, bright
With God, in breaching1 closed like enemies.
Which of the Gods to rupture in a fight

Provoked them? Leto's son, whom Zeus begot,
For he a fulsome plague on Argives brought.
This being the opening partially-rhymed* sonnet (of 1823) from F. L. Light's translation of the Iliad. That it's not as bad as Hobbes's translation is a very weak defense. Available from Audible and in three volumes covering books 1-8, 9-16, and 17-24.

Found via this list of Homer translations. No thanks necessary.


* Reading on, the dominant rhyme scheme is xaxa xbxb xcxc dd, often slant-rhymed, but the first two stanzas here are just a little too slant for me to hear the chime.


---L.

Subject quote from Macbeth V.5.26-28, William Shakespeare.
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
Infographic of the week: Deaths in the Iliad. (via)

So spoke Fitzgerald’s Persian bard,
And the people of Victoria heard him and sighed,
And thought unto themselves “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,”
And turned again to contemplate, now sad, their railway timetables.

Bork bork bork! (via)

---L.

Subject quote from "Tightrope," Janelle Monáe.
larryhammer: a wisp of smoke, label: "it comes in curlicues, spirals as it twirls" (curlicues)
"This American Lear" (via)

How to cut a bagel into two interlocking rings. Spoiler: Use a möbius-strip shaped cut. (via)

Infographic: deaths in the Iliad by the numbers. Patroclus kills more named Trojans than Achilles. (via)

Subject quote from "Under Pressure," Queen feat. David Bowie.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Yotsuba runs)
From the Wikipedia article on Mongolia:
"Gobi" is a Mongol term for a desert steppe, which usually refers to a category of arid rangeland with insufficient vegetation to support marmots but with enough to support camels. Mongols distinguish Gobi from desert proper, although the distinction is not always apparent to outsiders unfamiliar with the Mongolian landscape.
So the Gobi Desert isn't.

The Toast summarizes the Judgement of Paris with copious illustrations -- which are available because "pretty much every dude born between the years 1100 and 1850 with an ounce of sprezzatura and a brush tried his hand at painting it at least once." (NSFW for artistic nudity, via)
you said i could just pick and then youd go home and it would be over
sorry i cant hear you with this helmet on
with this war helmet on
A fun Flash-based timewaster: Wunderputt. (via)

---L.

Subject quote from "The End of the Innocence," Don Henley.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (completed)
Three literary links:

25 things learned from closing a bookstore. "If you think people with trucks avoid you when you're getting ready to move to a new apartment, just wait until you're closing a bookstore." (via)

The properties of the social network of characters in the Odyssey and Beowulf suggest there is a historical basis on real people at its core, in contrast to that of Tain Bo Cuailnge, which has a more artificial geometry. (original paper, via forgotten)

A short story about confusing the NSA with emails of Finnegan's Wake and Hopkins. (via)

---L.
larryhammer: animation of the kanji for four seasonal birds fading into each other in endless cycle (Japanese poetry)
The autumn Tanabata arc isn't the only place the myth is used in the Kokinshu. Here's an exchange of poems that's also given in Tales of Ise chapter 82 -- I translate the Kokinshu headnotes, but they convey substantially the same thing as the Tales of Ise prose context.



418. When Prince Koretaka went hunting with some friends, they came to the bank of a place called Ama-no-gawa ("river of heaven") whereupon they drank sake. When the prince said, "Offer me up a cup while reciting a poem in the spirit of arriving at the bank of the River of Heaven while hunting," Ariwara no Narihira recited:

karikurashi
tanabata-tsu-me ni
yado karamu
ama no kawara ni
ware wa kinikeri
    We've hunted till dark:
let's seek out lodgings from
    the Weaver Maiden --
for we have come to the bank
of the River of Heaven.


419. The Prince repeatedly recited this poem but was unable to reply, so Ki no Aritsune, who was with them, composed this for him.

hitotose ni
hitotabi kimasu
kimi mateba
yado kasu hito mo
araji to zo omou
    Given she awaits
a husband who visits
    but one time a year,
I rather think she isn't
someone who'd give us lodgings.



(Things useful to know: The Prince is Narihira's patron and friend, insofar as possible given their difference in rank, Aritsune is both the Prince's maternal uncle and Narihira's father-in-law, and according to Ise, this takes place in cherry blossom season, a few months before Tanabata.)

Needless to say, I totally want the fanfic about a strayed hunter ending up at the Weaver Maiden's house at the bank of the Milky Way. It need not be Acteon, though that would make an awesome crossover. It just needs to exist RIGHT NAO.

ETA: Ask, and thou shalt receive.

---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (completed)
Books recently devoured upon arrival in-house:

Cross Game v7, Mitsuru Adachi - Contains v14-15 of the Japanese edition -- one more volume to go. I am once again reminded of just how good Adachi is at storytelling, as the implications of the events of v6 continue to reverberate and the characters prepare for the climactic summer qualifying tournament. (I use "reverberate" deliberately -- echoes, structural and ironic, are a major tool in his kit.) Highly recommended, still.

Girl Meets Boy, Ali Smith - This is billed as a retelling of Iphis and Ianthe, but it's not so much that as a genderqueer romance with characters conscious of Ovid -- including two separate summaries of Ovid's version, one told in character. A fun, breezy read, though the partial implication that one solution to the problems of the world is to go Brazil-ending is not as encouraging as was probably intended.

Fly by Night, Frances Hardinge - I want to sit this book down in a locked room with Westmark and then eavesdrop as they try to figure out whether how much to trust each other, and what's to be gained by turning the other in. Wonderful evocation of pre-modern espionage, even though too much time is spent without the goose. I am inexplicably without the sequel.

The Sound of Waves, Yukio Mishima - I gather this is the Mishima novel I'm most likely to connect to. I must say, it's a good unraveling of exactly why secret lovers in Japanese poetry angst over discovery so much. I get the very strong impression that, even though the heroine is (like the hero) so very much An Ideal it's not even funny, Mishima did not like women. I also get the impression Mishima preferred the unreflective type in his boy-toys. All carping aside, I like the story itself -- I'm guessing it's in some sense based on Daphnis and Chloe? The parallels are too strong to not be deliberate, but was it direct or indirect influence is the question.

Books taking longer to digest:

Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensation and Inscription, Thomas LaMarre - The odd subtitle obscures that this is really a study of the poetics of Kokinshu-era poetics and its entanglement with calligraphic styles (so nothing as expansive as the main title suggests). It's thinky enough that I have to take time off every five pages to process. It probably helps that I was already, in my own unsystematic way, already working toward some of the author's arguments (regarding the relationship between pivot-words and names-of-things poems), but other parts, I don't yet understand enough to evaluate.

A Waka Anthology, volume 2: Grasses of Remembrance, Edwin Cranston - 1100 folio pages do not go down in a single gulp. Or even two.

Tsunaide Tsukurou: Yunitto Origami (roughly,* "Let's Connect and Make: Unit Origami"), Tomoko Fuse - It is likewise impossible to rush through an origami book -- all the more so for unit origami.** Fuse is one of my three favorite origami artists,*** and this book hasn't been translated, that I'm aware of -- found in used book store's foreign-language section, along with several Japanese origami books from the library of someone from Alberta. I kept myself to under five, but snagged all of Fuse's, and I started on this as the looking the most interesting.

Haiku: The Poetry of Nature, ed. David Cobb - On the other hand, while it's possible to read a haiku collection in a single sitting, doing to so pretty much misses the point. This one has a pretty good mix of traditional and modern poets, generally in reasonable translations, plus lots of pretty pictures from the Japanese collection from The British Museum.


* This can probably be rendered more idiomatically.

** The domain of such implied instructions as "Now make 19 more of those so we can assemble them."

*** Robert Lang and John Montroll.


---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (completed)
Books recently devoured upon arrival in-house:

Cross Game v7, Mitsuru Adachi - Contains v14-15 of the Japanese edition -- one more volume to go. I am once again reminded of just how good Adachi is at storytelling, as the implications of the events of v6 continue to reverberate and the characters prepare for the climactic summer qualifying tournament. (I use "reverberate" deliberately -- echoes, structural and ironic, are a major tool in his kit.) Highly recommended, still.

Girl Meets Boy, Ali Smith - This is billed as a retelling of Iphis and Ianthe, but it's not so much that as a genderqueer romance with characters conscious of Ovid -- including two separate summaries of Ovid's version, one told in character. A fun, breezy read, though the partial implication that one solution to the problems of the world is to go Brazil-ending is not as encouraging as was probably intended.

Fly by Night, Frances Hardinge - I want to sit this book down in a locked room with Westmark and then eavesdrop as they try to figure out whether how much to trust each other, and what's to be gained by turning the other in. Wonderful evocation of pre-modern espionage, even though too much time is spent without the goose. I am inexplicably without the sequel.

The Sound of Waves, Yukio Mishima - I gather this is the Mishima novel I'm most likely to connect to. I must say, it's a good unraveling of exactly why secret lovers in Japanese poetry angst over discovery so much. I get the very strong impression that, even though the heroine is (like the hero) so very much An Ideal it's not even funny, Mishima did not like women. I also get the impression Mishima preferred the unreflective type in his boy-toys. All carping aside, I like the story itself -- I'm guessing it's in some sense based on Daphnis and Chloe? The parallels are too strong to not be deliberate, but was it direct or indirect influence is the question.

Books taking longer to digest:

Uncovering Heian Japan: An Archaeology of Sensation and Inscription, Thomas LaMarre - The odd subtitle obscures that this is really a study of the poetics of Kokinshu-era poetics and its entanglement with calligraphic styles (so nothing as expansive as the main title suggests). It's thinky enough that I have to take time off every five pages to process. It probably helps that I was already, in my own unsystematic way, already working toward some of the author's arguments (regarding the relationship between pivot-words and names-of-things poems), but other parts, I don't yet understand enough to evaluate.

A Waka Anthology, volume 2: Grasses of Remembrance, Edwin Cranston - 1100 folio pages do not go down in a single gulp. Or even two.

Tsunaide Tsukurou: Yunitto Origami (roughly,* "Let's Connect and Make: Unit Origami"), Tomoko Fuse - It is likewise impossible to rush through an origami book -- all the more so for unit origami.** Fuse is one of my three favorite origami artists,*** and this book hasn't been translated, that I'm aware of -- found in used book store's foreign-language section, along with several Japanese origami books from the library of someone from Alberta. I kept myself to under five, but snagged all of Fuse's, and I started on this as the looking the most interesting.

Haiku: The Poetry of Nature, ed. David Cobb - On the other hand, while it's possible to read a haiku collection in a single sitting, doing to so pretty much misses the point. This one has a pretty good mix of traditional and modern poets, generally in reasonable translations, plus lots of pretty pictures from the Japanese collection from The British Museum.


* This can probably be rendered more idiomatically.

** The domain of such implied instructions as "Now make 19 more of those so we can assemble them."

*** Robert Lang and John Montroll.


---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
Myths ought to be busted. Nonetheless, I'm sad about this one.

It's almost as disappointing as realizing Camino de Calle Road, a street in a housing development outside Tucson, is apocryphal. Ah well.

We still get to complain about the redundancy in the La Brea Tar Pits, though.

---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
Myths ought to be busted. Nonetheless, I'm sad about this one.

It's almost as disappointing as realizing Camino de Calle Road, a street in a housing development outside Tucson, is apocryphal. Ah well.

We still get to complain about the redundancy in the La Brea Tar Pits, though.

---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
And, indeed, there should be nothing to regret for drawing Thor riding a cat. (via)

The cat, OTOH, might regret quite a bit.

... nibble on they tiny feet

---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
And, indeed, there should be nothing to regret for drawing Thor riding a cat. (via)

The cat, OTOH, might regret quite a bit.

... nibble on they tiny feet

---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (vanished away)
Following up on this post:

Actually, The Sea-King is not very Byronic at all -- it's a reincarnation fantasy that trundles along in Walter Scott's mode. Except, of course, for the Norse myth trappings, which are both surprisingly extensive and unsurprisingly all surface. It also looks ahead to pulp adventure stories in the Haggard and Burroughs vein, and its largest failure mode, an inability to deal with women in any way realistically, squarely matches that genre's. I am not at all surprised to learn that the author, a minor Spasmodic poet named J. Stanyan Bigg, was 20 when he published it.

If you're interested in rhyming pulp adventure, I commend it to your attention.

OTOH, the main failure mode of The Maiden of Moscow is applying Byronic mannerisms not to passion but to sentiment, and in particular sentimentality. If you can make it past the third canto, your stomach is stronger than mine -- I had to cleanse my palate with some Roman gods wangsting in dogtrot Elizabethan fourteeners.

(Subject line by G.K. Chesterton, natch.)

ETA: Apparently, The Maiden of Moscow has (one of?) the first known usages "outer space." Who knew?

---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (vanished away)
Following up on this post:

Actually, The Sea-King is not very Byronic at all -- it's a reincarnation fantasy that trundles along in Walter Scott's mode. Except, of course, for the Norse myth trappings, which are both surprisingly extensive and unsurprisingly all surface. It also looks ahead to pulp adventure stories in the Haggard and Burroughs vein, and its largest failure mode, an inability to deal with women in any way realistically, squarely matches that genre's. I am not at all surprised to learn that the author, a minor Spasmodic poet named J. Stanyan Bigg, was 20 when he published it.

If you're interested in rhyming pulp adventure, I commend it to your attention.

OTOH, the main failure mode of The Maiden of Moscow is applying Byronic mannerisms not to passion but to sentiment, and in particular sentimentality. If you can make it past the third canto, your stomach is stronger than mine -- I had to cleanse my palate with some Roman gods wangsting in dogtrot Elizabethan fourteeners.

(Subject line by G.K. Chesterton, natch.)

ETA: Apparently, The Maiden of Moscow has (one of?) the first known usages "outer space." Who knew?

---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
Of all the odd-numbered Nth day of the Nth month holidays imported to Japan from China, the N=7 Tanabata is my favorite -- possibly because unlike the others there's an actual myth that came with it. The festival celebrates the one day a year the Oxherd (Hikoboshi, the star Altair) and the Weaver Maid (Orihime, Vega) are allowed a conjugal visit across the River of Heaven (the Milky Way) that separates them the rest of the year. In the most romanic version of the story, a bridge of birds (or more specifically magpies) spans the River, allowing them to cross -- but only if it doesn't rain. But like most myths, there are many variations.

In all forms, it is considered a romantic story -- and a romantic holiday.

Since Japan went Gregorian, Tanabata has been a mid-summer festival celebrated on July 7th, but in the former lunisolar calendar (the one used to calculate Chinese New Year) it fell in early autumn, in what's now August. As such, it was an autumn topic in poetry -- and book 4 of the Kokinshu has 11 poems about it, loosely arranged into a story of one of their meetings, translated below.


173. Author unknown

Topic unknown.

akikaze no
fukinishi hi yori
hisakata no
ama no kawara ni
tatanu hi wa nashi
    Ever since the day
autumn winds began blowing,
    there's been not one day
I haven't stood on the bank
of Heaven's Endless River.


What doesn't come through in translation: the blowing is inflected as a personal experience, highlighting that the speaker is either the Weaver Maid or Oxherd; given the Weaver Maid waits to be visited, this is often heard as specifically her voice.



174. (Author unknown)

(Topic unknown.)

hisakata no
ama no kawara no
watashimori
kimi watarinaba
kaji kakushite yo
    O ferryboatman
on the bank of the Endless
    River of Heaven,
if my lord has crossed over,
keep your oar hidden away!


The first two lines of the original (my l.2-3) are almost the same as the previous poem's l.3-4 (my last line and a half). Here the speaker is, of course, the Weaver Maid. This follows versions of the story where the Oxherd is ferried across (leaving me wondering what the ferryman does the rest of the year).



175. (Author unknown)

(Topic unknown.)

ama (no) kawa
momiji o hashi ni
wataseba ya
tanabatatsume no
aki o shimo matsu
    River of Heaven,
is it because it lays down
    a bridge of colored leaves
that the Weaver Maid awaits
the arrival of autumn?


And we swoop down from heaven to a terrestrial speaker, and a poem that's especially admired for its romantic tone. My justification for the interpetive "the arrival of" is how emphatically the autumn being waited for is marked.



176. (Author unknown)

(Topic unknown.)

koikoite
au yo wa koyoi
ama no kawa
kiri tachi-watari
akezu mo aranamu
    Desperately longed for,
the night we meet is tonight.
    River of Heaven,
may the mists envelop you
so that daybreak never comes.


Back up to heaven; while either party could be speaking, I'm inclined to hear the Weaver Maid's voice again. I am unreasonably fond of the line au yo wa koyoi, "the night we meet (is) tonight."



177. Ki no Tomonori

Written for another when, in the Kanpyô Era, the Emperor [Uda] commanded the courtiers to present poems on the night of the Seventh Day.

ama (no) kawa
asase shiranami
tadoritsutsu
watari-hateneba
ake zo shinikeru
    Constantly searching
the white waves in the shallows
    of Heaven's River,
he didn't know how to cross
when daybreak had, yes, begun.


On the one hand, this is about the Oxherd searching for a way across; on the other, it's also about the man Tomonori is pinch-hitting for, who he implies searched all night for something to write but also failed. As such, I read this pronounless poem in the third-person instead of first, returning to a terrestrial point-of-view. In some Tanabata stories, the Oxherd cannot cross the Milky Way if the sky is overcast, and the whitecaps may represent such clouds. Pivot-word: shiranami is "white wave" but can also be read as "not knowing."



178. Fujiwara no Okikaze

A poem from the poetry contest held in the palace of the consort in the same era.

chigirikemu
kokoro zo tsuraki
tanabata no
toshi ni hitotabi
au wa au ka wa
    It is cold indeed,
a heart that could promise that:
    is meeting but once
a year on Tanabata
really a meeting at all?


I cannot help thinking this isn't really a Tanabata poem but rather using the story's trappings to accuse a lover. Either way, though, it doesn't work for me because it's blaming the victim: meeting one night a year isn't the idea of either the Weaver Maid or the Oxherd, but a punishment from her grandfather, the Emperor of Heaven, for her shirking weaving for love. "But," "really," and "at all" are rhetorical rather than literal.



179. Ôshikôchi no Mitsune

Written the night of the Seventh Day.

toshi-goto ni
au to wa suredo
tanabata no
nuru yo no kazu zo
sukunakarikeru
    Although it is true
that they meet every year
    on Tanabata,
the nights they sleep together
are indeed few in number.


According to an ambiguous record from a decade after the fact, this poem was pitted against #178 in the Kanpyô Era consort's poetry contest; it's not clear which supposedly won but I hope it wasn't this because, while I may be missing something, the wit sounds to me just as weak in Japanese as in English. "Together" is another of those omitted-but-understood words.



180. (Ôshikôchi no Mitsune)

(Written the night of the Seventh Day.)

tanabata ni
kashitsuru ito no
uchi-haete
toshi no o nagaku
koi ya wataramu
    These threads we offer
for Tanabata ever
    continue onward --
will their love extend like that
the length of the cord of years?


On Tanabata, young women gave offerings of thread to the Weaver Maid in return for skill at working with it. As such, I understand the speaker as one of them speculating about the celestial affair, but it could be read as a single person talking about his/her own love, with the offering done by another and the festival as metaphoric dressing. The action of the middle line uchihaete ("keeps continuing, and") applies both to the thread above it and the years below; I made the resulting implicit comparison explicit.



181. Sosei

Topic uknown.

koyoi komu
hito ni wa awaji
tanabata no
hisashiki hodo ni
machi mo koso sure
    No, I shall not meet
the man who might come tonight,
    lest I also would
then have to wait as long as
the next Tanabata.


Written in a female persona who is using the story to talk about herself rather than Orihime, though of course the gist is "as above, so below." The conjunction of consequence (here "lest") is omitted but understood, while "long" somewhat understates the strength of the prolonged hisashi.



182. Minamoto no Muneyuki

Written at dawn on the night of the Seventh Day.

ima wa tote
wakaruru toki wa
ama (no) kawa
wataranu saki ni
sode zo hichinuru
    Because "It is now" --
in this time of separation,
    though I haven't yet
crossed the River of Heaven,
my sleeves are already soaked.


The conceit being that the Oxherd is crying into his sleeves in the approved courtly manner, getting them wet even before the river splashes them, presumably on the ferry. Technically "(it is) now" is not directly quoted, but I treat it as a farewell comparable to sayonara, lit. "since (it's) thus," to bring out the drama.



183. Mibu no Tadamine

Written on the Eighth Day.

kyô yori wa
ima komu toshi no
kinô o zo
itsu shika to nomi
machiwatarubeki
    So starting today
I must wait impatiently
    though the entire
year that is now to come for
yesterday's Tanabata.


And the story rounds out with a morning-after poem from the Oxherd, de rigueur in court circles after a tryst. Because, of course, "as below, so above."




One day, I'll figure out how to write the Chinese myth sex farce version of the story. It's been tickling 'round the hindbrain for a while, but still isn't ready to come out.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
Of all the odd-numbered Nth day of the Nth month holidays imported to Japan from China, the N=7 Tanabata is my favorite -- possibly because unlike the others there's an actual myth that came with it. The festival celebrates the one day a year the Oxherd (Hikoboshi, the star Altair) and the Weaver Maid (Orihime, Vega) are allowed a conjugal visit across the River of Heaven (the Milky Way) that separates them the rest of the year. In the most romanic version of the story, a bridge of birds (or more specifically magpies) spans the River, allowing them to cross -- but only if it doesn't rain. But like most myths, there are many variations.

In all forms, it is considered a romantic story -- and a romantic holiday.

Since Japan went Gregorian, Tanabata has been a mid-summer festival celebrated on July 7th, but in the former lunisolar calendar (the one used to calculate Chinese New Year) it fell in early autumn, in what's now August. As such, it was an autumn topic in poetry -- and book 4 of the Kokinshu has 11 poems about it, loosely arranged into a story of one of their meetings, translated below.


173. Author unknown

Topic unknown.

akikaze no
fukinishi hi yori
hisakata no
ama no kawara ni
tatanu hi wa nashi
    Ever since the day
autumn winds began blowing,
    there's been not one day
I haven't stood on the bank
of Heaven's Endless River.


What doesn't come through in translation: the blowing is inflected as a personal experience, highlighting that the speaker is either the Weaver Maid or Oxherd; given the Weaver Maid waits to be visited, this is often heard as specifically her voice.



174. (Author unknown)

(Topic unknown.)

hisakata no
ama no kawara no
watashimori
kimi watarinaba
kaji kakushite yo
    O ferryboatman
on the bank of the Endless
    River of Heaven,
if my lord has crossed over,
keep your oar hidden away!


The first two lines of the original (my l.2-3) are almost the same as the previous poem's l.3-4 (my last line and a half). Here the speaker is, of course, the Weaver Maid. This follows versions of the story where the Oxherd is ferried across (leaving me wondering what the ferryman does the rest of the year).



175. (Author unknown)

(Topic unknown.)

ama (no) kawa
momiji o hashi ni
wataseba ya
tanabatatsume no
aki o shimo matsu
    River of Heaven,
is it because it lays down
    a bridge of colored leaves
that the Weaver Maid awaits
the arrival of autumn?


And we swoop down from heaven to a terrestrial speaker, and a poem that's especially admired for its romantic tone. My justification for the interpetive "the arrival of" is how emphatically the autumn being waited for is marked.



176. (Author unknown)

(Topic unknown.)

koikoite
au yo wa koyoi
ama no kawa
kiri tachi-watari
akezu mo aranamu
    Desperately longed for,
the night we meet is tonight.
    River of Heaven,
may the mists envelop you
so that daybreak never comes.


Back up to heaven; while either party could be speaking, I'm inclined to hear the Weaver Maid's voice again. I am unreasonably fond of the line au yo wa koyoi, "the night we meet (is) tonight."



177. Ki no Tomonori

Written for another when, in the Kanpyô Era, the Emperor [Uda] commanded the courtiers to present poems on the night of the Seventh Day.

ama (no) kawa
asase shiranami
tadoritsutsu
watari-hateneba
ake zo shinikeru
    Constantly searching
the white waves in the shallows
    of Heaven's River,
he didn't know how to cross
when daybreak had, yes, begun.


On the one hand, this is about the Oxherd searching for a way across; on the other, it's also about the man Tomonori is pinch-hitting for, who he implies searched all night for something to write but also failed. As such, I read this pronounless poem in the third-person instead of first, returning to a terrestrial point-of-view. In some Tanabata stories, the Oxherd cannot cross the Milky Way if the sky is overcast, and the whitecaps may represent such clouds. Pivot-word: shiranami is "white wave" but can also be read as "not knowing."



178. Fujiwara no Okikaze

A poem from the poetry contest held in the palace of the consort in the same era.

chigirikemu
kokoro zo tsuraki
tanabata no
toshi ni hitotabi
au wa au ka wa
    It is cold indeed,
a heart that could promise that:
    is meeting but once
a year on Tanabata
really a meeting at all?


I cannot help thinking this isn't really a Tanabata poem but rather using the story's trappings to accuse a lover. Either way, though, it doesn't work for me because it's blaming the victim: meeting one night a year isn't the idea of either the Weaver Maid or the Oxherd, but a punishment from her grandfather, the Emperor of Heaven, for her shirking weaving for love. "But," "really," and "at all" are rhetorical rather than literal.



179. Ôshikôchi no Mitsune

Written the night of the Seventh Day.

toshi-goto ni
au to wa suredo
tanabata no
nuru yo no kazu zo
sukunakarikeru
    Although it is true
that they meet every year
    on Tanabata,
the nights they sleep together
are indeed few in number.


According to an ambiguous record from a decade after the fact, this poem was pitted against #178 in the Kanpyô Era consort's poetry contest; it's not clear which supposedly won but I hope it wasn't this because, while I may be missing something, the wit sounds to me just as weak in Japanese as in English. "Together" is another of those omitted-but-understood words.



180. (Ôshikôchi no Mitsune)

(Written the night of the Seventh Day.)

tanabata ni
kashitsuru ito no
uchi-haete
toshi no o nagaku
koi ya wataramu
    These threads we offer
for Tanabata ever
    continue onward --
will their love extend like that
the length of the cord of years?


On Tanabata, young women gave offerings of thread to the Weaver Maid in return for skill at working with it. As such, I understand the speaker as one of them speculating about the celestial affair, but it could be read as a single person talking about his/her own love, with the offering done by another and the festival as metaphoric dressing. The action of the middle line uchihaete ("keeps continuing, and") applies both to the thread above it and the years below; I made the resulting implicit comparison explicit.



181. Sosei

Topic uknown.

koyoi komu
hito ni wa awaji
tanabata no
hisashiki hodo ni
machi mo koso sure
    No, I shall not meet
the man who might come tonight,
    lest I also would
then have to wait as long as
the next Tanabata.


Written in a female persona who is using the story to talk about herself rather than Orihime, though of course the gist is "as above, so below." The conjunction of consequence (here "lest") is omitted but understood, while "long" somewhat understates the strength of the prolonged hisashi.



182. Minamoto no Muneyuki

Written at dawn on the night of the Seventh Day.

ima wa tote
wakaruru toki wa
ama (no) kawa
wataranu saki ni
sode zo hichinuru
    Because "It is now" --
in this time of separation,
    though I haven't yet
crossed the River of Heaven,
my sleeves are already soaked.


The conceit being that the Oxherd is crying into his sleeves in the approved courtly manner, getting them wet even before the river splashes them, presumably on the ferry. Technically "(it is) now" is not directly quoted, but I treat it as a farewell comparable to sayonara, lit. "since (it's) thus," to bring out the drama.



183. Mibu no Tadamine

Written on the Eighth Day.

kyô yori wa
ima komu toshi no
kinô o zo
itsu shika to nomi
machiwatarubeki
    So starting today
I must wait impatiently
    though the entire
year that is now to come for
yesterday's Tanabata.


And the story rounds out with a morning-after poem from the Oxherd, de rigueur in court circles after a tryst. Because, of course, "as below, so above."




One day, I'll figure out how to write the Chinese myth sex farce version of the story. It's been tickling 'round the hindbrain for a while, but still isn't ready to come out.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
And the Yuletide 2011 collection has been opened, and two different anonymouses have left me stories:

Song of the Southwest, a Journey to the West x Uncle Remus Stories (aka Song of the South) crossover in which Monkey, on the banks of a wide green river where the cypress grew thick, meets an all-black person sitting in a rocking chair.

Songs of Ono no Komachi, a Kokinshu fic by way of Heian Period RPF in which an aging Komachi describes how she met the very young Ki no Tsurayuki and taught him about life, love, and the craft of poetry. This one was written by someone who a) read my posts about her and b) knows enough Japanese to correct my translations, and c) knows their stuff about the period.

Excellent haul, if I say so myself. I am mighty pleased, anyway.

As for what I wrote, it is probably exceedingly obvious they are mine, but I would think that. Any guesses? And recs for my further reading? (for I have only just started to dig through the enormous collection).

---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
And the Yuletide 2011 collection has been opened, and two different anonymouses have left me stories:

Song of the Southwest, a Journey to the West x Uncle Remus Stories (aka Song of the South) crossover in which Monkey, on the banks of a wide green river where the cypress grew thick, meets an all-black person sitting in a rocking chair.

Songs of Ono no Komachi, a Kokinshu fic by way of Heian Period RPF in which an aging Komachi describes how she met the very young Ki no Tsurayuki and taught him about life, love, and the craft of poetry. This one was written by someone who a) read my posts about her and b) knows enough Japanese to correct my translations, and c) knows their stuff about the period.

Excellent haul, if I say so myself. I am mighty pleased, anyway.

As for what I wrote, it is probably exceedingly obvious they are mine, but I would think that. Any guesses? And recs for my further reading? (for I have only just started to dig through the enormous collection).

---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
Links of note for certain people. Others may also benefit from following them, of course.

For [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume: selected entries National Geographic Photo Contest 2011.

For [livejournal.com profile] sovay and [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks: The Epic of Hades by Lewis Morris, a dream-vision of revisionist Greek mythology by a technically competent but minor Victorian poet.

For [livejournal.com profile] swan_tower and [livejournal.com profile] branna (and with apologies to [livejournal.com profile] stevendj): on the intuitive user interface of the jar lid, and other features of our world. "Are we really going to accept an Interface Of The Future that is less expressive than a sandwich?" (via)

---L.
larryhammer: a low-fidelity picture of a man, label: "some guy" (Default)
Links of note for certain people. Others may also benefit from following them, of course.

For [livejournal.com profile] asakiyume: selected entries National Geographic Photo Contest 2011.

For [livejournal.com profile] sovay and [livejournal.com profile] rushthatspeaks: The Epic of Hades by Lewis Morris, a dream-vision of revisionist Greek mythology by a technically competent but minor Victorian poet.

For [livejournal.com profile] swan_tower and [livejournal.com profile] branna (and with apologies to [livejournal.com profile] stevendj): on the intuitive user interface of the jar lid, and other features of our world. "Are we really going to accept an Interface Of The Future that is less expressive than a sandwich?" (via)

---L.

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