MYS III: 404

A poem sent in return by the Daughter of Saeki sukune Akamaro.


kami no yasiro si
kasuga no nope ni
apa makamasi wo
If the mighty
Gods’ shrines
Did not exist, then
On the plains at Kasuga
Would I sow foxtail millet.

4 thoughts on “MYS III: 404”

  1. MYS III: 404, 405 and 406 that are related with each other as an interesting type of poems exchanged between man and woman.

    “mighty Gods’ shrines” may be a mighty Goddess’s shrine, which is probably a metaphor for Akamaro’s wife. If so, there must have been some agonizing entanglement among the girl, Akamaro and his wifein prior to those poems, I guess.

    On the other hand, we can also imagine another situation that “mighty God’s shrines” is a metaphor for the girl’s partner.

    I have heard that such poems exchanged were sometimes made in drinking parties under the assumption between an imaginary man and an imaginary woman!

    Foxtail millet (粟) is called “awa” in modern Japanese. It probably have been changed as “apa” => “aɸa” =>”awa”.
    At the same time, “apu” (会ふ・逢ふ) meant “to meet somebody”, “to go on date” and/or ”to marry”. It corresponds with “au” (会う・逢う) in modern Japanese.

    Since apa and apu sound similar, foxtail millet was often used to imply lovely dating.
    Kasuga-no-Nobe (i.e. Kasuga-No) is an area in Nara City, where the famous shrine, ”Kasuga-Taisha” has been located from the 8th century. The slopes of Kasuga-No were sometimes used for slash-and-burn cultivation (shifting cultivation) of foxtail millet and other crops by farmers in ancient times. Temporary huts were build in a slash-and-burn cultivation fields to store farm equipment and tools. People can stay there to drive away animals and birds, too. Such a hut could serve as an perfect place for a young couple.

    Thank you for reading. I am not good at poetry but studying foxtail millet.

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