5 thoughts on “KKS XVII: 908”

  1. Is the final ならなくに a form of the Nara-period negation? I am referring to part 6.1B in Professor Shirane’s book, “The na in the negative mizenkei appears in the form naku-ni, which emerged in the Nara period, primarily in waka” (p.67).

    1. Yes, that’s right, although as Haruo says, while the form appears in the Nara period, it continued to be used as a piece of poetic diction long after.

  2. Am I wrong in reading a possible dual interpretation of this poem? It seems like the first two lines could be understood as, on the one hand, “Am I going to die having achieved nothing more than this [rank, status, etc.]?” On the other hand, if 世の中 is commonly used as a romantic metaphor, maybe it could also be read as “Is this how our relationship will come to an end?”

    And maybe this is too much of a stretch, but if よをやつくさむ is read as 夜 (night), maybe the poem could also be understood as “Are you really going to keep me waiting out here all night? I haven’t got all the time in the world.”

    1. There are a range of potential interpretations here, which is what makes this a ‘Miscellaneous’ poem – one that lacks a sufficiently clear link to any of the ‘main’ topics, such as the seasons, or love, to be categorised as one of them. So, figuratively, the pine tree is immortal, and the poet, being human, is not, asking the question ‘is this how my life ends?’ or ‘having lived this way, is my life going to come to an end?’ Well, of course it is, but not necessarily yet – the poem leaves it open as to whether there’s time to change the poet’s fate, and also what the cause of his or her discontent is. It could be disgruntlement over lack of advancement – in which case this could count as a jukkai, a lament over personal circumstances addressed to a superior. Or it could be a broken heart, in which case it’s a love poem. Interpreting よ as 夜 here is not part of the standard commentarial tradition, and the mention of the pine tree, which conveys an image of a great length of time, makes this unlikely, as in love poems, the night is conventionally brief.

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