Tag Archives: mulberry

MYS XVII: 4003

A poem with two envoys, composed in respectful response to Tachiyama.

朝日さし そがひに見ゆる 神ながら 御名に帯ばせる 白雲の 千重を押し別け 天そそり 高き立山 冬夏と 別くこともなく 白栲に 雪は降り置きて 古ゆ あり来にければ こごしかも 岩の神さび たまきはる 幾代経にけむ 立ちて居て 見れども異し 峰高み 谷を深みと 落ちたぎつ 清き河内に 朝さらず 霧立ちわたり 夕されば 雲居たなびき 雲居なす 心もしのに 立つ霧の 思ひ過ぐさず 行く水の 音もさやけく 万代に 言ひ継ぎゆかむ 川し絶えずは

asapi sasi
sogapi ni miyuru
kamu nagara
mina ni obasesu
sirakumo no
tipe wo osiwake
ama sosori
takaki tatiyama
puyu natu to
waku koto mo naku
sirotape ni
yuki pa puri okite
inisipe yu
ipa no kamusabi
tama kiparu
ikuyo penikemu
miredomo ayasi
tani wo pukami to
kiyoki ka puti ni
asa sarazu
kiri tati watari
yupu sareba
kumowi tanabiki
kumowi nasu
kokoro mo sino ni
tatu kiri no
omopi sugusazu
yuku midu no
woto mo sayakeku
yoroduyo ni
ipitugi yukamu
kapa si taezu wa
The morning sun shines
At my back,and
Your great name links:
Clouds of white
In a thousand layers, you pierce, and
Tower into the heavens,
Tall Tachiyama!
In winter and, in summer both
Indistinguishably are you
Clad in mulberry white
Fallen drifts of snow;
Since ancient days
Ever has been your estate,
Fastened round with
Crags divine;
‘til all souls end
Have countless ages passed!
Standing here,
I see you, yet am awed by
Your lofty peak and
Valley’s deep, where
Plunge seething cataracts of
Waters pure to pools where
Morning never leaves –
Mists rise and roll across, and
When the evening comes
Clouds trail in and
Cover all,
Even, with sadness, my heart, so
The rising mists
Never leave my thoughts, and of
Your running waters’
Clear, pure sound
Through ten thousand ages
Will I ever tell
Unending as a river’s flow…

Ōtomo no Ikenushi

Love 53

Left (Tie).


hisakata no
amateru kami no
kakete iku yo o
The eternal
Heaven shining Goddess, with
Mulberry garlands in her hair:
Across as many ages
Will our love endure…




tsuyu shigure
shitakusa kakete
moru yama no
iro kazu naranu
sode wo miseba ya
Dewfall and drizzle
Dripping from the undergrowth
Drenches Moruyama,
Her countless scarlet
Sleeves, are what I would show you…



Topic unknown.


ta ga misogi
yuFutukedori ka
tatuta no yama ni
oriFaFete naku
For whose lustration is
This mulberry cloth? A cockerel
Crows upon the Cathay robe
Cut out on Tatsuta Mountain,
Endlessly calling.


This poem relies upon an elaborate series of overlapping word plays and images in order to achieve its effect.

First, we have ta ga misogi yuFu tuke ‘For whose lustration ceremony is this mulberry cloth fastened?’. This overlaps with yuFutukedori ka karakoromo ‘A cockerel crows’ (karakoromo sounded to old Japanese ears like a cock’s crow). In turn, this overlaps with karakoromo tatu ‘A Cathay robe cut out’, which overlaps with tatuta no yama ‘Tatsuta Mountain’. Karakoromo was, in fact, a makura kotoba conventionally associated with tatu. A further double meaning is achieved in the final line where oriFaFete ‘endlessly’, is derived from a verb, oriFaFu 織延ふ, meaning ‘weave at great length’.

Additionally, implicit in the poem is the knowledge that a Cathay robe would have been made out of brocade (nisiki 錦), which was an image frequently used in poetry to describe the panoply of scarlet autumn leaves at places such as Tatsuta.

So, the poem presents us with a progression of images: from the simplicity of the sacred mulberry cloth to the richness of the brocade robe; the cockerel used in a religious ceremony, recollecting the lustration, while simultaneously being an embroidered decoration on the Chinese robe, with his crows echoing endlessly through the autumn leaves at Tatsuta, and frozen into an endless crow upon the garment.