Tag Archives: 清少納言

SZS XIX: 1206

At a time when there was a reading of the Lotus Sutra at the Bodai Temple and she had gone to hear it, she heard from someone asking her to return home quickly, so she composed:


motomete mo
kakaru Fatisu no
tuyu wo okite
uki yo ni mata Fa
kaFeru mono ka Fa
Even being asked,
Faced with such a lotus –
Dew-dropped – should I abandon it
And once again to the world of pain

Sei Shōnagon

SZS XVI: 961

In the reign of Retired Emperor Ichijō, when the Empress contributed to the Gosechi Dances, on the last day she presented 12 girls of her retinue, all, down to the lowest, dressed in aozuri; when one of them, Hyōe by name, was tying her scarlet belt, she asked someone to do it up for her; hearing this, Captain Sanekata, saying he would do it, recited, “Leg-wearying/The mountain spring waters/Are frozen, yet/What belt/Will melt it, I wonder?” On hearing him, Sei Shōnagon composed this in reply:


uFa koFori
aFa ni musuberu
Fimo nareba
kazazu Fikage ni
yurubu bakari wo
The ice above is
Light as foam-and lightly tied
Is this belt-so
Shining sunlight
Alone will loosen it!

Sei Shōnagon

SKS IX: 316

When a man who had promised to come did not appear all night, but came afterwards, she refused to see him; he complained, saying that was hard-hearted, so she composed:


yosi saraba
turasa Fa ware ni
tanomete konu Fa
tare ka osiFesi
Fine then!
How to be hard-hearted, from me
You have learned!
But to promise, then not come-
Who taught you that, I wonder!

Sei Shōnagon

GSIS XIX: 1155

When the governor of Michinoku, [Tachibana no] Norimitsu was a Chamberlain, and she wanted to let him know that they were finished, she retired to her home, saying, ‘If people ask, don’t tell them where I am.’ When he sent back to her, saying, ‘What am I to do if people demand to know-as your husband I should know, surely?’ she bundled up some seaweed and sent it to him. Norimitsu didn’t understand and came to her, asking, ‘What on earth do you think you are doing?’. So she composed this poem.


ama no arika wo
soko nari to
yume iFu na to ya
me wo kuFaseken
‘When beneath the waves,
The fisher-folk may be found
At the bottom there!’
Tell no one at all-
Eat the seaweed-will you see the signs, I wonder!

Sei Shōnagon


Once Sei Shônagon was chatting to Major Councillor [Fujiwara no] Yukinari when, saying the palace was sealed because of a taboo, he made as if to leave hurriedly the following morning; she said he had been urged to leave by the cocks’ crowing, so he replied, ‘Cocks only crow in the middle of the night at Hangu Pass, don’t they?’ and got up and left; she composed this to say they were at Meeting Hill Barrier.


yo wo komete
tori no sora ne Fa
Fakaru tomo
yo ni aFusaka no
seki Fa yurusazi
In the depths of night
Cocks’ crows
Cause confusion, yet
In the dark on Meeting Hill
The barrier won’t let you through!

Sei Shōnagon