4 thoughts on “Kokin rokujō VI: 4155”

  1. I like the first three lines of this one. They seem to be like separate fragments that combine into a single impressionistic image: a rice straw mat, a willow tree along the river, the water going by.

  2. I am having more trouble than usual parsing the last two lines. WWWJDIC gives おきふし as “(1) rising and going to bed; daily life; (2) all the time; constantly.” I can’t find すれど, but looks to me like a form of する + けれども (however, although). If I put just these two together, it would seem to have the grammatical meaning of “whether sleeping or waking…” or “no matter whether I am getting up or lying down…”

    The last line seems to further complicate things. I am trying to break out the meaning into そのね ([the aforementioned] sleep) + 耐える・たえる (to endure; to support; to continue) + せず (without). This would be something like “without sleep lasting” or “being unable to sleep” ? I am just guessing that it is 耐える and not 絶える・たえる (to die out; to cease) or something different still.

    I can’t seem to fit the two lines together into a complete phrase, probably because I am missing some important points.

    1. This is somewhat complex poem because it contains a wordplay in the final line which I have not attempted to capture in the translation, opting instead for a somewhat loose version, combined with a need to read into the context, which I think is why you are finding it difficult.

      The poem begins with the image of the rice straw mat, which introduces the idea of a human presence, although this is not explicitly mentioned in the poem. This is followed by the willow tree on the river-bank, which allows one to infer that this is where the mat is, and by association the speaker of the poem, although again this is not mentioned explicitly. The third line has simply ‘water’ (mizu) and yukeba, which could mean either ‘when go’ or ‘because go’. There is no marker of the grammatical relationship between the noun and the verb, so there are a range of possible meanings here: ‘when/because I go to the water (i.e. the river)’ or ‘when/because the water goes (i.e. flows)’. Okifushi, you correctly identify as a noun meaning ‘waking and then sleeping’ and ‘in daily life’, although as an associated meaning with its first meaning, it could also mean ‘morning and evening’ or ‘all the time’, ‘constantly’. Suredo is suru ‘do’ with the affix -do, meaning ‘although do’. The line is deliberately vague meaning ‘although do [something] constantly’, but it is a matter of interpretation of what this is.

      The final line is where the wordplay comes in: sono ne can be both その寝 ‘that sleep’ and also その根 ‘its roots’ that is, those of the willow tree. Tae is both 耐え ‘continue’, ‘endure’ and also 絶え ‘cease’, and these are negated by sezu ‘do not’. The final line, then, simultaneously is both ‘the roots (of the willow) are endless’ and ‘sleep does not endure’.

      In the translation, I have projected the ‘sleep’ element back into the fourth line, but in a non-specific way, to reflect the vagueness of the original, while also transferring the sense of okifushi into the final line with ‘as ever’. A more literal version would be ‘I constantly [try to] do it, but / that sleep does not continue’ – again one has to read the ‘try’ element into the context because ‘trying and failing’ is the only way to make sense of the final line in combination with the -do ending here.

      This is only one reading of the end of the poem focussing on the human presence: ‘I lie down on a rice straw mat under a willow by a river, but can’t ever sleep because of the noise of the water’, but also possible would be ‘My rice straw mat under a willow by a river, where the waters flow endlessly but the willow’s roots stretch out at great length’.

      In the translation here, I have taken elements from both readings and approaches to reflect the dual nature of the original poem. Hope that helps!

  3. Thank you very much for your detailed explanation. In gratitude, here is my attempt to render it in a strict syllable pattern, with some distortions to follow the person-focused interpretation of the last two lines.

    On a rice straw mat
    by a riverbank willow
    with water flowing by;
    laying down and getting up
    for I cannot stay asleep.

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