koknishu: spring 1, #5

I think just the act of posting that last translation has made me dislike it.  I’m sending Spring I, #3 back to the drawing board.  Don’t look at it any more.  We’re moving on:

梅がえに
きゐるうぐひす
はるかけて
なけどもいまだ
雪はふりつつ

    the warbler
back in the branches
    of my plum tree,
singing in the spring
even as the snow falls

Japanese poetry often lacks a sense of “speaker”, due in part to the structure of the language itself.  Using “my” inserts a presence not expressly there in the original, but I find it shrinks and personalizes the scope of the poem.  “my plum tree” has a softer, smaller feel than “the plum tree”, pulling the scene of the poem into a familiar back yard, rather than a vague, open space-with-a-plum-tree.  Still not committed to the punctuation here–I played with dashes and different use of commas, even a colon, but nothing stuck, so I went with this one-comma version.

As always, comments and criticisms welcome!

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kokinshu: spring 1, #3

In an effort a higher echelon of dorkdom (Nerdvana?), I have been devoting a portion of my free time to the translation of classical Japanese poetry.  The following tanka–a short poetic form which dominated Japanese culture for quite a long time–is from the Kokinshu, specifically the first book of spring verses.  I do not claim that it is perfect, or even necessarily done, but it is the first one I think I’ve gotten to the point of “decent”.

Here we go:

春霞
たてるやいづこ
みよしのの
よしのの山に
雪はふりつつ

oh where
do the spring mists rise?
here in fair Yoshino,
in the mountains of Yoshino,
snow keeps coming down

I’m still a bit uncomfortable with the “oh where”, it’s a little melodramatic…  Thoughts, comments, and criticisms are welcome.