31shortyones28) men and women, loving and parting, what about children? ― Sayaka confides her family gossip to Jaugo


28)(小式部内侍亡くなりて、むまごどもの侍りけるを見てよみ侍りける)

とどめおきてたれをあはれとおもふらむこはまさるらむこはまさりけり

「留め置きて誰を憐れと思ふらむ子は勝るらむ子は勝りけり」

和泉式部(いづみしきぶ)

♪(SING)♪

★men and women, loving and parting, what about children? ― Sayaka confides her family gossip to Jaugo★

Jaugo: This is one of the most personal and most moving of Heianese TANKA at the hands of 和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu), whose message can hardly come home to you unless you are adequately acquainted with 和泉(Izumi)’s personal life. So, my first question is ― how much do you know about 和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu), Sayaka-san?

Sayaka: To the extent of your explanation in this lecture. I saw a couple of her poems cited here, and one lewd episode of 『宇治拾遺物語(Uji-Shuui-monogatari)』 which simply cited and defiled her name as if she was a prostitute. In spite of such unfavorable reputation as a lecherous woman, her poems are exceptionally great among Heianese TANKA because she has the unique capacity of “見遣り(miyari)”, walking up to and empathizing with the objects of her poems, totally unlike the rest of Heianese poets, perhaps with the sole exception of 西行法師(Saigyou-houshi). That’s about it.

Jaugo: Great! I could never think of a better assistant, Sayaka-san. You’ve already come to the level of an independent teacher, even without me.

Sayaka: (…)

Jaugo: OK, that much will be enough as background information to this TANKA. If I were to add something, another unseen heroine of this poem, 小式部内侍(Koshikibu-no-naishi), was the only daughter of 和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu), whom she gave birth to when she was twenty or maybe younger.

Sayaka: When 和泉(Izumi) was married to her first husband?

Jaugo: That’s right. And this 小式部内侍(Koshikibu-no-naishi), as her name symbolically suggests, was quite like her mother not only in her poetic talent but also in her gorgeously amorous relationships with quite a lot of noble men. She gave birth to three children, whose fathers were all different. But she died immediately after the birth of her third child, when she was about 25. This particular TANKA was made by her mother 和泉(Izumi) in mourning for the too early decease of her only daughter.

Sayaka: How old was 和泉(Izumi) then?

Jaugo: Add 20, when she gave birth to her daughter, to 25, the age at which the daughter died.

Sayaka: She was 45 when she lost her daughter…

Jaugo: Give or take a few years, for the exact dates of their birth are not known. Anyway, I don’t think her age means too much in this case.

Sayaka: Oh… I’m sorry, I was just thinking about my mother.

Jaugo: I’d guess she is far too young to lose you, Sayaka-san.

Sayaka: (…)

Jaugo: Oh, I’m sorry for sounding ominous. Let’s forget the mother’s age and get back to the poem. Where shall we start? OK, let’s start counting the number of players. How many players appear in this poem, Sayaka-san?

Sayaka: Three.

Jaugo: To be more specific?

Sayaka: The deceased ― 小式部内侍(Koshikibu-no-naishi), the bereaved ― her children, and the mourner ― 和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu).

Jaugo: Three of them ― are they all?

Sayaka: Or five ― you said 小式部内侍(Koshikibu-no-naishi) had three children.

Jaugo: Three to five ― are they all?

Sayaka: Are there anyone else?

Jaugo: There must be quite a lot of them behind the scenes.

Sayaka: You mean, quite a lot of noble men who had affairs with 小式部内侍(Koshikibu-no-naishi)?

Jaugo: As unseen guests, yes.

Sayaka: What rights do they have to appear, even as unseen guests? They have no legitimate place in this family.

Jaugo: Some of those “guests” were the fathers of the children.

Sayaka: OK, then, add three more to the players and make that eight. Nothing more.

Jaugo: No lover but those who fathered a child through 小式部内侍(Koshikibu-no-naishi) is entitled to appear in the scene, you say?

Sayaka: Otherwise, anyone she met in her life would be all allowed in; it would be chaos!

Jaugo: You are being a little too meticulous, Sayaka-san. Any man is entitled to appear in the poem so long as he had some amorous relationship with 小式部内侍(Koshikibu-no-naishi), only to disappear again as someone not so memorable, though.

Sayaka: If they disappear so soon, why should they appear? They should never have appeared at all! Just leave the family alone…

Jaugo: Uh… is this not your brightest day, Sayaka-san? “Blood fever” perhaps?

Sayaka: Oh… I’m sorry, I was just… no, don’t worry, I’m not having my period right now. I apologize for being unreasonably excited. Please forget about my family. Let’s just get back to 和泉(Izumi)’s TANKA.

Jaugo: …All right, then, let’s get back straight to the point ― 和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu) asks 小式部内侍(Koshikibu-no-naishi) “誰を憐れと思ふらむ(tare wo aware to omou ramu = who do you think is most piteous)”… How would you answer, Sayaka-san?

Sayaka: “子(ko = children)”.

Jaugo: Yes, that’s what 和泉(Izumi) thinks 小式部(Koshikibu) would miss most, since she says, suppositively, “子は勝るらむ(ko wa masaru ramu = children would come first)”… but what makes her so sure? Why does the mother feel assured that her dead daughter would sorely miss her children more than anyone else?

Sayaka: Because… you may change wives or lovers, but never your daughter. Your daughter will always be your daughter, although your ex-wife or ex-love is not your wife or love any more.

Jaugo: Mm… cutting-edge analysis, Sayaka-san, you’ve hit the target right on, as always… or even more sharply than usual. But let me be a little more dull and literal and ask you again: your personal feeling and intuition aside, why can 和泉(Izumi) say with such assurance that her daughter 小式部(Koshikibu) sorely misses her children more than anyone else? What’s the logical reason for her comment “子は勝るらむ(ko wa masaru ramu = children would be the most to be pitied)”?… Look into the poem to find the answer.

Sayaka: (…) “子は勝りけり(ko wa masari keri = my daughter is the most to be pitied, I found out)”… 和泉(Izumi) herself misses her daughter 小式部(Koshikibu) more acutely than she misses any men she ever loved.

Jaugo: Yes. As compared with her affection to her daughter 小式部(Koshikibu), quite a lot of noble men that 和泉(Izumi) loved in her life simply meant nothing… those men ― the numerous male lovers of 和泉(Izumi) and 小式部(Koshikibu) ― just appear in this poem as a measure of love, against which the mother decides how deep is her love toward her children. You are quite right in your analysis, Sayaka-san ― parent-child affection is stronger than husband-wife relationship. 和泉(Izumi)’s words are all the more convincing for the number of men she fell in and out of love with as a woman… love of the mother is here to stay, even after love of lovers are gone with the wind. This is a poem which could never have been born out of such “decent” women as 紫式部(Murasaki-shikibu) or 赤染衛門(Aakazome-emon), let alone from purely fictional imagination of male poets like 紀貫之(Ki-no-Tsurayuki) or 藤原定家(Fujiwara-no-Teika) ― only 和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu) and 小式部内侍(Koshikibu-no-naishi) could give birth to it. The “scandalous” lives of “lecherous women” being sublimated into a gem of poesy… this IS poetry, don’t you think, Sayaka-san?

Sayaka: I agree… sublimation through poetry… it’s beautiful for us to see, but it must have been so painful for them to experience in their real lives.

Jaugo: I’d guess… although I can only guess. Who am I to say “Yes, I know”? All I know is simply that this poem is all the more beautiful because the lives of 和泉(Izumi) and 小式部(Koshikibu) were painted dirty by such prosaic Japanese who made that shitty episode of 『宇治拾遺物語(Uji-Shuui-monogatari)』, which I feel inclined to rename 『蛆周囲物語(Uji-shuui-monogatari = smelly tales around maggots)』.

Sayaka: You hate amorous gossips, Jaugo-san?

Jaugo: I’d prefer poems to gossips.

Sayaka: (…) May I be allowed to give you my purely personal interpretation of this poem?

Jaugo: Sure, of course. I’d like to hear.

Sayaka: I know it’s far from true, but it’s true to me… I’d like you to know how I felt first when I saw this poem… it’s kind of silly… is it OK?

Jaugo: I’m all ears.

Sayaka: “留め置きて(todome okite = after you leave)”, “誰を憐れと思ふらむ(tare wo aware to omou ramu = who do you think will be the most miserable?)”, “子は勝るらむ(ko wa masaru ramu = the daughter will be the most miserable, don’t you think?)”, “子は勝りけり(ko wa masari keri = the daughter is actually feeling most miserable, even more miserable than you… there used to be a time when the daughter came first and foremost in the family, which looks like a long, long time ago… I sorely miss those days when the family were so tightly knitted together with the daughter at its center)” ― Please don’t try to say anything, Jaugo-san… I know you hate gossips, but I just wanted you to know what kind of situation I’m in…

Jaugo: I know… I mean, I know what you are trying to convey ― desperate times of your family ― I feel sorry for you, Sayaka-san. Although I’m in no position to give you any advice, I happen to be in front of you to listen to your story ― if YOU want to let it out on me.

Sayaka: You hate to hear gossips, don’t you?

Jaugo: Gossips are irrelevant stories of those whom I have nothing to do with. Your stories are never irrelevant to me… unless you think otherwise, Sayaka-san.

Sayaka: I was hoping you’d say that.

Jaugo: Just let it out of your chest: I won’t let it out to others ― you know how much I hate gossips?

Sayaka: It’s so very kind of you, Jaugo-san… as you might have already known, my parents are openly talking about divorce in front of me. They even try to talk me into following them after they divorce from each other. My Mom and Dad have not been so deep in love all these years, but Mom has been completely cross with Dad since… she knew he had been betraying her… you know what I mean?

Jaugo: Some other woman behind the scenes?

Sayaka: Yes. It was only recently that Mom found out, but she had long been suspicious of Dad’s treachery. Now, divorce has become her obsession. She even hates me to talk with Dad, because she is afraid Dad is trying to take me away from her, which is true. Mom wants me to stay away from home so that Dad would have no chance to talk with me. She made me change e-mail addresses and even cell-phones to keep Dad from talking to me, and she tells me never to let him know the new address or phone number. She is just… not normal for the last few weeks. I tremble to think what would happen if she caught me talking with you like this ― she seems to be thinking I’m the only possession left for her. She hates anyone else to touch me. It’s no parent-child affection, it’s just her obsession. I… I just don’t know what to do! Tell me, Jaugo-san, what should I do?

Jaugo: Who am I to tell you? I’m no counselor or psychiatrist, I haven’t even met your parents. I’m just listening to your story… if you will tell me your story.

Sayaka: I’m sorry, I just felt you knew all the answers…

Jaugo: Where there’s some answer, yes, I will try to find out. When I know there’s no definite answer, I’ll just wait and see.

Sayaka: Wait and see… what?

Jaugo: Whatever. Anything that comes out. Who am I to know? Only time will tell.

Sayaka: Doing nothing? Just wait until… something comes out?

Jaugo: Or maybe nothing comes out.

Sayaka: You say, my parents may not divorce? Impossible! You don’t know how fierce they are against each other.

Jaugo: You are right ― I just don’t know. I’m just listening to your story.

Sayaka: Oh, I’m sorry… this is not your business, my purely personal affair, just another gossip you hate so much.

Jaugo: I’m not saying I hate to have anything to do with your personal affairs. I’d gladly meddle in and help you out, if I knew what to do.

Sayaka: (…) May I ask you a personal question, Jaugo-san?

Jaugo: Yes.

Sayaka: Have you ever cheated your sweetheart?

Jaugo: While I was in love with her, no. After we parted, yes.

Sayaka: It’s no cheating after you parted from her.

Jaugo: You think so? What’s the difference?

Sayaka: You don’t make her sad or mad if you fall in love with another woman, because she is not your wife or sweetheart any more.

Jaugo: While she is my wife or sweetheart, am I not supposed to fall in love with another woman?

Sayaka: Of course not! It’s betrayal, no “sweet betrayal”, simply the worst kind of betrayal.

Jaugo: Am I allowed to fall in love with any woman, if I’m not a husband or a lover of some woman?

Sayaka: Yes.

Jaugo: Then, a marriage is a declaration never to love anyone else than the husband or the wife, right?

Sayaka: Right.

Jaugo: Does the husband or the wife breach the agreement if he or she falls in love with another woman or man?

Sayaka: Yes.

Jaugo: Then, the marital contract must be canceled at the time the betrayal of the husband or the wife is known to the other party… is that right?

Sayaka: (…)

Jaugo: Or, the marriage could continue even after the treachery of one of the parties had been revealed, if the party at fault paid some reasonable penalty… is this arrangement acceptable to you, Sayaka-san?

Sayaka: I think so.

Jaugo: What kind of penalty do you think is acceptable?

Sayaka: I don’t know.

Jaugo: Parting from each other while retaining their marital status?

Sayaka: (…) What if they had a daughter?

Jaugo: I’d have to ask the daughter what she would like her parents to do. Would she like to live with the father, or the mother?

Sayaka: I’d hate both. I’d like it that they lived together along with me. If they parted from each other, I’d hate to follow either of them. I think I would part from them both.

Jaugo: And you are going to live alone?

Sayaka: I’d hate to, but there’s no choice. Living with Dad alone or Mom alone is not in my choice.

Jaugo: You live alone, your father lives alone, your mother lives alone… what a sad picture of a family that used to live together.

Sayaka: (… ; . ; )

Jaugo: If the picture is so sad as to make you cry, Sayaka-san, maybe your Mom and Dad will think twice… if they feel sorry for you.

Sayaka: You think so?

Jaugo: I’m not sure. Did you let them know how much you hate the notion of their divorce?

Sayaka: No. I’ve tried to stay away from their argument. Do you think it will work?

Jaugo: What will work?

Sayaka: If I tell them I don’t want them to divorce. If I remind them of the sadness of the picture of us all living alone.

Jaugo: I don’t know. Your Dad or Mom may in fact prefer that picture.

Sayaka: Why?

Jaugo: Maybe she or he has determined to hate him or hate her, if not you. In that case, to go on living with the one they’ve determined to hate will be a difficult if not an impossible option. They don’t particularly want “living alone”, they just hate “living along with the one they hate” so much.

Sayaka: They also hate living with me?

Jaugo: Do they give you such an impression?

Sayaka: They are trying to take me away from each other. But I don’t know if they really love me and want me to stay with them even after divorce. If they really love me, I don’t think they ever want to divorce, don’t you think so, Jaugo-san?

Jaugo: I don’t know. I’ve never been married, let alone divorced. But I do know that they both love you, Sayaka-san.

Sayaka: Really?

Jaugo: Did you do anything to have them hate you?

Sayaka: No.

Jaugo: Then, your parents love you, always love you until the end of time… we both know that, thanks to this beautiful TANKA by 和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu).

Sayaka: But… if they really love me, why do they divorce? They could change wives or husbands, but what about their daughter? Are they gonna cut me into two and halve me with each other?

Jaugo: Maybe they have ceased to think of you as a child.

Sayaka: What?!

Jaugo: Your parents love you, always love you, because they have the good old memories of you as a baby and a child, the cutest little thing for them in the world. With all such fond memories of your babyhood and childhood taken in hostage, they have no help for it but to love you for ever. And divorce would have been a very tough option for them to take if you were still too young and needed as much affection as possible from both of your parents. But you have already grown out of that stage, or at least so it seems to them now… maybe that’s why they can now talk about divorce in front of you.

Sayaka: Am I to blame for their argument?

Jaugo: You are not to blame, of course, Sayaka-san. I’m just saying you are not a child any more in the eyes of your parents… perhaps.

Sayaka: But, I am still their daughter. I didn’t ask them to see me as an adult woman… I’m not yet… I hate them thinking like that!

Jaugo: You may want to remain their daughter, but you will leave them when you get married and start living with your husband.

Sayaka: I won’t get married any time soon.

Jaugo: But you are not wearing diapers or sucking your Mom’s breast any more.

Sayaka: Why do they all try to force me out of my childhood!? I never asked to grow old!

Jaugo: Nobody wants to grow old, but in fact they do, against their will, according to the change outside as well as inside.

Sayaka: Why does a man fall in love with another woman even when he has his wife and children?

Jaugo: Are you aware you are now asking a man who has had no wife or children in his life?

Sayaka: But you are a man, Jaugo-san. You know how men feel, don’t you?

Jaugo: OK, if you twist my arm ― I’d guess it’s because a marriage is a contract for “living”, not “loving”.

Sayaka: What do you mean?

Jaugo: Marriage is a mutual agreement to form and keep the common “living base” called “a family”, not a vow to be bound by the “loving faith” for ever. A husband doesn’t have to be always faithful to his wife, so long as he doesn’t rob her of their common living base. He doesn’t have to love her, but he does have to help her in maintaining their common living base, namely their family. That’s why he may sometimes fall in love with some woman other than his wife, while doing his best to keep his family life intact, unaffected by anything outside the family, including his personal relationship with something outside the family circle, be it women, men, business, hobbies, whatever. So, the husband at home doesn’t want to talk about his business, how his boss tried to make his day miserable, how well he did on the golf course last Sunday, or how he feels about the beautiful young colleague sitting next to his desk. He feels he can do anything outside the family so long as he doesn’t destroy the common living base with his wife and children. And loving someone or something outside the family circle is not included in his idea of “destroying the common living base with his wife and children”… That’s my imagination ― remember, I’ve never been married even once.

Sayaka: You said a husband doesn’t have to be always faithful to his wife, but the husband and the wife have both vowed before God to love each other and each other alone. How do you think about that?

Jaugo: You know Heianese nobles had more than one wife, don’t you?

Sayaka: Yes.

Jaugo: Why do you think men in Heian era had more than one wife? Because they were less faithful than contemporary men?

Sayaka: (…)

Jaugo: It’s a simple matter of social contract. Heianese marriage is polygamy ― a man may be married to several different women at the same time. Most countries in the modern world adopt monogamy, where one man can only be married to a single woman at the same time. Do you know why? Is it because men of today are more faithful than men in Heian era?

Sayaka: I don’t know… why?

Jaugo: It’s a simple matter of economy. A family is the “living base” with certain amounts of economic value: those who can share in that economic value have to be strictly restricted by law into a limited number of members ― the husband, the wife, the children… even among the children, there are often discriminative distinctions as regards their rights between the eldest and the others, male children and female. Family life today does not consist of “love” or “faith” alone ― “living” and “having”, and “taking” in case of divorce or bereavement ― such economic meaning has come to grow bigger and bigger nowadays. Just take a look at the steady decline in the number of Japanese families ― or children ― to confirm what I said: it keeps declining because getting married and forming a family and having children is a definite economic disadvantage, or even an impossibility, for more and more Japanese men and women. Japanese men and women are falling in love and making love as much as they used to, perhaps, but they just refrain from getting married or forming a family or having a child simply because they know ― intellectually or instinctively ― that marriage is a disadvantage in today’s Japan. Love and marriage are two different things… too bad, too sad, but it’s only too true. Does that come as a surprise, or as a relief to you, Sayaka-san?

Sayaka: I… I don’t know. It’ll take some time for me to collect my thoughts.

Jaugo: If I were to be still more daring, your Dad doesn’t hate your Mom, perhaps, he just happened to love some other woman as well, that’s all ― maybe he didn’t think it would destroy the common living base of your family, but your Mom obviously felt otherwise. More likely than not, your Mom believes, mistakenly, that marriage is a “loving” contract, not just simply a “living” contract… That’s my personal view of a marriage life in general, mind you, Sayaka-san, not necessarily the case with your Mom and Dad. But I have a feeling that your parents might think twice if they realized how much they would lose, economically or otherwise, by getting a divorce. One of them, possibly both of them, are going to lose you… that prospect alone would be enough for me to refrain from a divorce, if I were your Dad: I would do everything, anything, to avoid losing you… and your Mom, and the family, in that order ― I might be old enough to lose you, but you are still too young to leave me… I’d like to have you with me until the day you leave the family to form a new family of your own with some faithful man who will love you and hopefully love you alone, who will have much in common with you other than just mere economic common interest, who will keep loving something along with you, even after he has ceased to love you the way he did in former days… even after your love of each other is gone, your love of something in common will still be strong, growing stronger with the time you spent together. Maybe you two will be going out to the mountains to listen to some blue bird chirping, spending the whole afternoon watching kung fu movies together, or endlessly talking about poetry or music. Husbands and wives may not be able to love each other for ever, but loving something along with each other will be quite possible, it can be a powerful remedy against fading affection and divorce, I’d guess. What do you say, Sayaka-san?

Sayaka: (…) No words ― but thank you, you never fail to help me, at least try to help me, Jaugo-san. I wish my parents were listening to your story together…

Jaugo: Caution is advised ― this is a prescription from an unmarried doctor, not your family doctor ― take it at your own risk, Sayaka-san.

Sayaka: Yes… thank you ever so much, and forgive me for having spoilt the beautiful story of 和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu) and 小式部内侍(Koshikibu-no-naishi) with my purely personal, rather filthy gossip.

Jaugo: Filthy gossip filtered through poetry can sublimate into a most beautiful piece of art… thank you, Sayaka-san, for providing such wonderful material ― not that I’m hoping for a messed-up development in your family… You just keep hoping for the better. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Whatever happens, I’ll always be on your side, Sayaka-san… See you next time. Good luck.

Sayaka: Thank you, Jaugo-san… See you.


----------

28)(小式部内侍亡くなりて、むまごどもの侍りけるを見てよみ侍りける)

とどめおきてたれをあはれとおもふらむこはまさるらむこはまさりけり

「留め置きて誰を憐れと思ふらむ子は勝るらむ子は勝りけり」

『後拾遺集』哀傷・五六八・和泉式部(いづみしきぶ)(978-?:女性)

(小式部内侍が亡くなって、孫たちだけがぽつんと後に残った姿を見て、詠んだ歌)

『自分一人だけ先立ってしまって、この世に置き去りにした人たちのうち、あの娘は今、一体誰のことを一番悲しく思っているかしら?・・・子供たち、でしょうね、きっと・・・私だってそう、別れた男たちよりも誰よりも、母である私を残して旅立ってしまったあなたのことを思うと、やり切れない気持ちでいっぱいだもの。』

(when her daughter Koshikibu-no-naishi passed away leaving behind her beloved children)

Who do you sorely miss

Of all those you left behind?

Children… yes you will.

My child… yes I do.

とどむ【留む】〔他マ上二〕(とどめ=連用形)<VERB:leave behind, desert>

おく【置く】〔補動カ四〕(おき=連用形)<VERB:put, drop>

て【て】〔接助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(SIMULTANEITY):and>

…after going out of this life alone leaving behind your loved ones

たれ【誰】〔代名〕<PRONOUN:who, whom>

を【を】〔格助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(OBJECT)>

あはれ【あはれ】〔感〕<ADJECTIVE:sorry, pitiable>

と【と】〔格助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(OBJECT)>

おもふ【思ふ】〔他ハ四〕(おもふ=終止形)<VERB:think, feel, find>

らむ【らむ】〔助動ラ四型〕現在推量(らむ=連体形係り結び)<AUXILIARY VERB(QUESTION):I wonder>

…whom are you feeling sorry for [the most]

こ【子】〔名〕<NOUN:the child>

は【は】〔係助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(SUBJECT)>

まさる【勝る】〔自ラ四〕(まさる=終止形)<VERB:be predominant, come first>

らむ【らむ】〔助動ラ四型〕現在推量(らむ=終止形)<AUXILIARY VERB(SUPPOSITION):I suppose>

…children will be the ones [that you feel most sorry for]

こ【子】〔名〕<NOUN:the child>

は【は】〔係助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(SUBJECT)>

まさる【勝る】〔自ラ四〕(まさる=終止形)<VERB:be predominant, come first>

けり【けり】〔助動ラ変型〕過去(けり=終止形)<AUXILIARY VERB(DISCOVERY):I found out>

…my child proved to be the one [that I myself love and miss most of all the people that I parted from]

《todomeoki te tare wo aware to omou ramu ko wa masaru ramu ko wa masari keri》


■from gossip through poetry into a drama ― 和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu) ― the woman who sublimated her own life into literature■

 紫式部(Murasaki-shikibu) made 『源氏物語(Genji-monogatari:ca.1008)』 out of her own imagination ― 和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu:ca.978-??) made a drama out of her own life, along with her daughter and lots of memories of men that went past through her life.

 The following is the very first of her TANKA which made her name known to the public, made in or around A.D.1001:

《くらきよりくらきみちにぞいりぬべき はるかにてらせやまのはのつき:kuraki yori kuraki michi ni zo iri nubeki harukani terase yama no ha no tsuki》『拾遺集(Shuui-shuu)』哀傷(Lamentation) No.1342 by 雅致女式部([Oue-no-]Masamune-no-musume-shikibu = daughter of Oue-no-Masamune)冥きより冥き道にぞ入りぬべき 遙かに照らせ山の端の月

・・・The most conspicuous feature of this poem is the redundantly contrasted phrase ― quite similar to “子は勝るらむ(ko wa masaru ramu = the children should come first)/子は勝りけり(ko wa masari keri = my child surely came first)” ― “冥きより(<kuraki> yori = because of my ignorance)/冥き道にぞ入りぬべき(<kuraki> michi ni zo iri nubeki = I am sure to get lost in the dark world where there’s no illumination)”. This impressive redundancy is a carbon copy of a phrase in a Buddhist sutra “従冥入於冥、永不聞仏名(クラキヨリクラキニイリテ、ナガクホトケノナヲキカズ:<kuraki> yori <kuraki> ni irite nagaku hotoke no na wo kikazu = due to ignorance, bogged down in blindness, deaf to Buddhist teachings for a long time)”. 和泉(Izumi) made this TANKA in her early twenties to ask for Buddhist illumination by the guidance of a well-known Buddhist monk 性空上人(Shoukuu-shounin).

 See how ominously suggestive of her later life! When she made this poem, 和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu) had already been married to her first husband 橘道貞(Tachibana-no-Michisada) and given birth to her only daughter 小式部内侍(Koshikibu-no-naishi) but this first marriage of her had practically ended; a few years before this TANKA, her husband 橘道貞(Tachibana-no-Michisada) went on an official mission to govern the district of 和泉(Izumi) as 受領(zuryou = a viceroy) ― with another woman ― leaving her behind in 京都(Kyoto), leaving the name of “和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu)” as a sad souvenir of their unfortunate marriage. Her life as “a lecherous woman” was about to begin around this period… with that in mind, I took the liberty to somewhat erotically modify one of this basically celestial 結縁(kechi-en = asking for religious guidance) TANKA:

(in 5-7-5-7-7 English words)

From ignorance to something darker

Sure to fall is me bail out

Not by sleeping with me

But from afar in moonlight’s enlightening beam

Down from Heaven to mountain-edge of doom

・・・As we all know, what saved 和泉(Izumi) from darkness of obscurity or filth of gossip was not any Buddhist teaching, but the poetry she gave birth to from sleeping with and parting from so many men in her “scandalous” life.

 Salvation and sublimation through art ― that’s what 和泉式部(Izumi-shikibu) achieved by virtue of her own poetic talent and uniquely empathic personality, at the sacrifice of her whole life, along with the life of her daughter. No imitation is ever possible. Too painfully unique, like the life and novels of 太宰治(Dazai-Osamu:1909-1948). It’s a pity that 和泉(Izumi)’s fascinating poetry should sleep unawoken by most Japanese, not least because of their linguistic inability to comprehend 古文(kobun = archaic Japanese sentences). I personally believe the terms and grammar of Heianese Japanese 1,000 years ago are worth studying and mastering just for the sake of falling in love with 和泉(Izumi)’s poems, if not for the appreciation of 『源氏物語(Genji-monogatari)』 or 『枕草子(Makura-no-soushi)』: prose could reach your brains through modern Japanese translation; poems can only reach your heart through the poets’ Heianese voices.


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