Jidai fudō uta’awase 44

Round Forty-Four



mukashi seshi
wa ga kanegoto no
kanashiki wa
ika ni chigirishi
Long ago did
I promise, but
Might the sadness
Of how I did once vow
Be my only keepsake?




katami tote
mireba namida no
nani nakanaka no
‘For a keepsake,’ I think and
Gaze, but my tears are
As peonies—
Why do they so
Brightly shine?


[i] GSS XI: 710: Taira no Sadafun had been conversing with a lady at the residence of Major Counsellor Kunitsune in great secrecy and matters had progressed to the point that they had vowed to be with each other to the end, when the lady was abruptly welcomed into the residence of the late Grand Minister, so he had no way at all of even exchanging letters with her; thus, when the lady’s five year old child was playing in the western wing of the minister’s mansion, Sadafun called her over and saying, ‘Show this to your mother,’ wrote this on her upper arm.

[ii] The text of this contest appears to be the only occurrence of this poem in the waka canon, so it is unclear where Gotoba may have encountered it.

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