Ninefold

A typically complicated piece of wordplay and allusion here: Sanekata first uses a standard description of globeflowers, yaFe 八重 ‘eightfold’and associates it with Lady Koma (iro mo kaFaranu いろもかはらぬ ‘Your hues remain unchanged’ – that is to say, ‘You are just as beautiful and alluring as ever’). He then builds on the imagery by introducing the term kokonoFe 九重 ‘ninefold’ to make an allusion to the imperial court (the imperial palace in China was said to have had ninefold gates and so ‘ninefold’came to be used to allude to the court), and returns to the floral imagery for his final remark sakazu narinisi, literally ‘it has become that you do not bloom’meaning ‘Why are you not appearing at court, any longer?’. The headnote, of course, supplies the answer: she has been dallying with the Emperor.

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