There was once a time when Narihira had got to know a lady in the eastern part of Gojō and visited her regularly. The relationship was secret, so he was unable to enter in through the gate and instead went in and out through a break in the fence. His visits mounted up until the master of the house got to know of it and placed a night-watchman in his path. Although Narihira came, he was unable to meet the lady and returning home, composed this and sent it to her.


Fito sirenu
wa ga kayoFidi no
sekimori Fa
yowi yowi goto ni
uti mo nenanamu
Unknown to all
The path I take;
Oh, that the sentry
On every night
Would swiftly fall asleep.

Ariwara no Narihira

2 thoughts on “KKS XIII: 632”

  1. Is this poem, like some other poems of Narihira in the Kokin Shū, taken from the Ise Monogatari? And is the Ise Monogatari, then, the source of the introductory paragraph beginning “There was once a time…”?

    1. Yes, this poem is Ise monogatari 6, and the introductory passage there is almost identical to the Kokinshū headnote. The woman in question is generally assumed to be Fujiwara no Takaiko 藤原高子 (842-910), who was a junior consort of Emperor Seiwa 清和 (850-881; r. 858-876), but has long been reputed to have had a passionate affair with Narihira. The Ise monogatari account follows the poem with ‘The young lady was absolutely crushed. Her guardian relented’ in Joshua Mostow and Royall Tyler’s translation (2010, 24), which suggests that Narihira’s strategy of writing a poem was effective in reuniting the lovers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *