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31shortyones18) live long along with your love ― Sayaka remembers how she conquered her death wish






★live long along with your love ― Sayaka remembers how she conquered her death wish★

Jaugo: Here comes love TANKA No.2; I’m afraid this might be something of a riddle to you, Sayaka-san.

Sayaka: If you say “Riddle me this”, I can give you a plain explanation.

Jaugo: Oh… could you do that for me?

Sayaka: The key element that makes a riddle of this TANKA is “a missing link” ― just add “君に(kimi ni = you)” as an invisible object prior to “逢ふにし替へば(au ni shi kaeba = I wished that I could exchange for meeting)” and connect them with the term “命(inochi = my life)” as another object of “exchange”, and you can logically interpret it as “君に逢ふにし命を替へば:kimi ni au ni shi inochi wo kaeba = I wished that I could exchange <my life> for meeting <you>”. Needless to say, this “meeting you” means “meeting you as your lover”. Q.E.D.

Jaugo: F-A-B!

Sayaka: What?

Jaugo: F-A-B for FABulous! Didn’t I tell you Jaugo-san as a kid was crazy about THUNDERBIRDS? Especially the fabulous Thunderbird 2!

Sayaka: Thunderbirds or yonder birds, I have a question of you.

Jaugo: About this particular TANKA?

Sayaka: Yes. Do you know this TANKA, Jaugo-san? 《きみがためをしからざりしいのちさへ ながくもがなとおもひけるかな:kimi ga tame oshikarazarishi inochi sae nagaku mogana to omoi keru kana》君がため惜しからざりし命さへ長くもがなと思ひけるかな… It’s one of my most cherished poems.

Jaugo: Mm… I’m glad you mention it, it’s my personal favorite, too ― an impressive poem by 藤原義孝(Fujiwara-no-Yoshitaka). It stands to reason that you didn’t find any difficulty interpreting this similar TANKA by 藤原頼忠(Fujiwara-no-Yoritada). OK, then, what is your question, Sayaka-san?

Sayaka: I was wondering if this TANKA was just another “beaten path”.

Jaugo: You mean, you thought this TANKA by 藤原頼忠(Fujiwara-no-Yoritada) was a carbon copy of 藤原義孝(Fujiwara-no-Yoshitaka)’s beautiful love song?

Sayaka: Or the other way around.

Jaugo: All right then, shall we examine which TANKA was created earlier?

Sayaka: Yes.

Jaugo: Let me see… well, here’s the data: 藤原義孝(Fujiwara-no-Yoshitaka) was born in 954 and died in 974, at the age of 20.

Sayaka: He died so young…

Jaugo: Yes, adding to the dramatic beauty of our favorite TANKA of his. On the other hand, 藤原頼忠(Fujiwara-no-Yoritada), the author of this particular TANKA was born in 924 and died in 989. Since he was born 30 years earlier than 義孝(Yoshitaka), it is natural to imagine that 頼忠(Yoritada)’s TANKA was created earlier… but when 義孝(Yoshitaka) died at the age of 20, 頼忠(Yoritada) was still alive at 50, a little too old to make such a passionate love song in the image of 義孝(Yoshitaka)’s beautiful original, but it is not totally impossible… Well, what do you make of this, Sayaka-san?

Sayaka: We don’t know which poem was created earlier.

Jaugo: You are right. And I should say, you are not quite right in trying to know which was the original and which was an imitation. The common concept of these two TANKA ― I thought I could give up my life for you; but now that we are in love with each other, I wish I could live forever with you ― dramatic as it is, was so popular in those days that there must have been many more similar poems springing out from the same source. Under such circumstances, authenticity or originality does not matter so much as individual beauty and personal appeal to yourself, I mean, how you would feel if you received such TANKA after your first date with a man. How would you feel, Sayaka-san?

Sayaka: I’d be very glad if I received it from you.

Jaugo: Sorry, never will I think of giving up my life just for meeting you, Sayaka-san, since I’ve already seen you scores of times and had lots of fun talking with you before I ever make love with… oh sorry, excuse me if I embarrassed you… it’s just, you know, an idle imagination, in the natural flow of the conversation…

Sayaka: Never mind. Mine was also just a minor attempt at manipulating you. Thank you for so responsive, Jaugo-san.

Jaugo: …You are in your element when it comes to talking about “love” songs.

Sayaka: I feel you are coming down quite near me from up above when we talk about “love” ― I love it!

Jaugo: Well… so, you love 義孝(Yoshitaka)’s poem better than this 頼忠(Yoritada)’s, original or imitation notwithstanding?

Sayaka: Yes. Thanks to your advice.

Jaugo: So… is this the end of today’s conversation?

Sayaka: Why do I have an impression you are fighting shy of “love” conversation with me?

Jaugo: Oh… do you? You’re just imagining things, I’d guess. You solved the puzzle of this TANKA all by yourself for me, so… that’s it, unless you have any other questions… do you?

Sayaka: Yes, I have a question.

Jaugo: OK, ask me, please.

Sayaka: Why don’t you ask me why I love that TANKA by 藤原義孝(Fujiwara-no-Yoshitaka) and how I solved the mystery of its complicated lyrics?

Jaugo: Oh, that’s a very good question… yeah, I’m curious, why and how?

Sayaka: Because it saved my life.

Jaugo: What did you say?

Sayaka: I might not have been alive and talking with you now if I hadn’t met that beautiful poem when I felt so desperate that I wanted to kill myself.

Jaugo: Death wish… I remember hearing you mention it before… when you suddenly found yourself a “girl” and no “kid” any more at the end of your childhood. Are you referring to that period?

Sayaka: My story coincides with those disturbing days, just a little later to be exact. When I found myself changing from the most athletic kid in school to just another girl, as though trying to add to my predicament, my Grandmother died in a car accident; Grandpa died two months later; Mom was busy taking care of Grandpa, often away from the house; Dad always came home late; I felt I was all alone in a world whirling around me in the direction of something worse, increasingly worse as I grew out of my happy childhood.

Jaugo: It must have been a very tough experience for you.

Sayaka: I loved Grandma. And Grandpa. They really loved me so much.

Jaugo: And you lost them in a time when you were most vulnerable…

Sayaka: I felt everything leaving. Everyone that loved me was leaving. Everything that I loved was leaving. I felt so desperate that I thought about leaving myself.

Jaugo: Death wish…

Sayaka: Yes.

Jaugo: I’m glad you’ve overcome. How did you overcome? How did 藤原義孝(Fujiwara-no-Yoshitaka)’s poem help?

Sayaka: After the death of Grandpa, one thing was left behind ― a cockatiel.

Jaugo: Cock… cocktail?

Sayaka: Please don’t try to be funny when I’m telling you a sad story, Jaugo-san.

Jaugo: Sorry, but you owe me an explanation… what is that cock-something?

Sayaka: It’s a cockatiel ― “オカメインコ(okame-inko)” in Japanese.

Jaugo: Oh, a bird again, your favorite.

Sayaka: Yes. Now that my grandparents were both dead, she was in my custody.

Jaugo: What’s her name?

Sayaka: あえか(Aeka).

Jaugo: Strange name for a cocka…ah…

Sayaka: Cockatiel. Grandpa wanted to name her さやか(Sayaka) but Grandma refused and called her あえか(Aeka) instead.

Jaugo: Do you know what “あえか(aeka)” meant in archaic Japanese?

Sayaka: No, will you tell me?

Jaugo: Something so delicate or fragile that a small vibration or a single touch might cause it to break or fall.

Sayaka: It sounds as if you were talking about me at that time. I was really on the verge of breaking down and falling into an abyss… but there came あえか(Aeka) into my life.

Jaugo: You felt you had to live for that cockatiel?

Sayaka: To make a long story absurdly short, yes.

Jaugo: Sorry to have made your struggle sound rather absurd.

Sayaka: It’s OK. To come to think of it, it was just absurd. You said “death wish”, but it was rather a weariness, discouragement, I was so daunted by all those changes coming upon me in torrents that I didn’t know what to do to cope with them all. It was just a small bird that saved me out of it. I had to take care of her. Unless I do so, this small bird will die. I must not let her die and make myself more miserable… or should I instead let her die and make myself so much more miserable, too miserable to stay alive any more? Yes, it’s all up to あえか(Aeka) whether I shall stay alive or kill myself. If she dies, I’ll commit suicide after her. But I will not kill her, I will take good care of her, not in order for myself to survive, but for her to live and die her natural death, unlike Grandma. Until あえか(Aeka) dies, I will not die to let her live… Thank God she is still alive with me. Absurd story, isn’t it?

Jaugo: Yes, very happily absurd. Life always hinges on absurdly small things. But it was nothing absurd for you at that time. I’m glad you can now call that great crisis and determination of yours “absurd” ― it’s a proof that you’ve already overcome.

Sayaka: That reminds me ― “あればぞ見ける秋の夜の月(areba zo mikeru aki no yo no tsuki)” ― never say DIE or never say ENOUGH! After all, it will turn out to have been ABSURD… yet also so DEAR in looking back… all because I’m still alive.

Jaugo: Just another TANKA that’s become part of yourself and will be your personal savior in times of crisis… oh, that reminds me, too ― what’s become of that TANKA by 藤原義孝(Fujiwara-no-Yoshitaka)?

Sayaka: I met that TANKA in the “百人一首かるた(playing-cards of Hyakunin-Isshu : one hundred TANKA poems by one hundred different poets)” that I used to play with my grandparents every new year, which also came into my possession after their death.

Jaugo: Did the lyrics come home to you naturally?

Sayaka: Not quite naturally. My first impression, second interpretation, the third amendment, and my final interpretation were all different from time to time.

Jaugo: Interesting. What was your first impression?

Sayaka: 君がため(kimi ga tame = it’s all because you are here, Aeka)惜しからざりし命さへ(oshikarazarishi inochi sae = I thought life was so fragile, so easy to break, I’d rather my life would be gone right now just like Grandma and Grandpa)長くもがなと思ひけるかな(nagaku mogana to omoi keru kana = however, as for your life, Aeka, I sincerely hope you live as long as you can)… it’s totally wrong, isn’t it?

Jaugo: For others, yes, but I think it was perfectly right for you in those days.

Sayaka: Yes.

Jaugo: May I have your second interpretation?

Sayaka: 君がため(kimi ga tame = since you are a cockatiel that will live as long as 25 years, Aeka)惜しからざりし命さへ(oshikarazarishi inochi sae = although I myself do not particularly want to live for a long time)長くもがなと思ひけるかな(nagaku mogana to omoi keru kana = I cannot afford to die too soon so as not to let you die because of me)… I hit upon this interpretation one day, and then, I found myself a little further away from the worst crisis of mine… do you know why, Jaugo-san?

Jaugo: You found yourself trying to live for someone else. In your first interpretation, you only hoped Aeka would live long, but you yourself didn’t want to live at all. What a dramatic development! I can hardly wait for the third stage… or amendment, you said?

Sayaka: Yes. 君がため惜しからざりし命さへ(kimi ga tame oshikarazarishi inochi sae = I have no particular wish to live, but I do want you, Aeka, to live as long as you can, so I will gladly give up my life for you, because your life is precious unlike mine)長くもがなと思ひけるかな(nagaku mogana to omoi keru kana = but if I die sooner than you, you may also die because of me; I’ll be sad to let you die… you may be sad to see me die… so, live together we should as long as we can, if only to avoid making either of us sad)… this is my third amendment. I thought this was the correct interpretation of this poem, until you introduced me to the TANKA of the day.

Jaugo: This particular TANKA by 藤原頼忠(Fujiwara-no-Yoritada) forced you into another interpretation, which is the academically correct interpretation… can you say that for me, Sayaka-san?

Sayaka: 君がため惜しからざりし命さへ(kimi ga tame oshikarazarishi inochi sae = I had thought I could give up my life for you, if only I could be your lover)長くもがなと思ひけるかな(nagaku mogana to omoi keru kana = now that you and I are in love with each other, I hope we can live our happy life together as long as we can)… although it’s somewhat different from any of my early interpretations, I love it. And I want to find someone who makes me feel like that… I may already have, don’t you think, Jaugo-san?

Jaugo: Yeah, I think so ― long live Aeka along with Sayaka!

Sayaka: (…) But I was shocked to find today that the poet, 藤原義孝(Fujiwara-no-Yoshitaka) died so young, at 20… He should have lived much longer with the one he loved, the woman who made him want to live longer together… life is cruel, don’t you think, Jaugo-san.

Jaugo: Yes. But he left us this beautiful poem, that’s a great gift for us, and for all those who are in personal crisis: if they meet this poem at the right moment, they may find the solution ― that they should not live or die for something, but they should live for and with someone.

Sayaka: The woman left behind by 義孝(Yoshitaka) must have been very sad, if this poem was the only thing left for her as his memento.

Jaugo: Life is not so cruel, Sayaka-san, 義孝(Yoshitaka) also left her a son, who grew up to be known as one of the greatest calligraphers of the day, 藤原行成(Fujiwara-no-Yukinari, or Kouzei)… relieved to hear that?

Sayaka: Yes, a little. But I’d like to live longer along with the one I love, don’t you think so, Jaugo-san?

Jaugo: “Live long along with your love” ― a catchy slogan it certainly is… so, this should be the end of today’s lesson… agreed?

Sayaka: Yes. Sorry I’ve taken up so much of your time and the greater part of this conversation involving you into my petty personal reminiscence.

Jaugo: Do you think I didn’t love that part? That’s the most moving part of today’s conversation. Thank you very much, Sayaka-san. See you again in our next “love” poem… by a woman.

Sayaka: I’m looking forward to it. See you.








(on the morning after the night when the author visited a woman for the first time)

What did I spare, even my life, to be mutually in love with you?

Now I find my life so dear, because it’s one with my dearest one.


まで【まで】〔副助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(TIME):till, until>

…until yesterday

あふ【逢ふ】〔自ハ四〕(あふ=連体形)<NOUN:be in love with each other, go out with, have affairs with>

に【に】〔格助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(PURPOSE):for, for the sake of>


かふ【替ふ】〔他ハ下二〕(かへ=已然形)<VERB:exchange, sacrifice>

ば【ば】〔接助〕<POSTPOSITIONAL PARTICLE(WISH):if only, o that, I wish>


おもふ【思ふ】〔他ハ四〕(おもひ=連用形)<VERB:feel, hope, wish, imagine>

き【き】〔助動特殊型〕過去(し=連体形)<AUXILIARY VERB(PAST)>


…I had thought I could give my life away in exchange for gaining your approval to have a date with me



…now today I find

いのち【命】〔名〕<NOUN:my life>


をし【惜し】〔形シク〕(をしく=連用形)<VERB:cannot afford to lose, spare>


あり【有り】〔補動ラ変〕(ある=連体形)<AUXILIARY VERB(MANNER OF EXISTENCE):become>


…my life has become too precious to lose [for the weight of the wonderful time I spend with you]

《kinou made au ni shi kae ba to omoishi wo kyou wa inochi no oshiku mo aru kana》

■dying to fall in mutual love with you ― can die in exchange for making love with you ― cannot afford to die and part from you… a dramatic routine in Heianese TANKA■

 The two TANKA poems discussed above are both made out of the same type of dramatic mold well-known in the circle of Heianese nobles ― 1)At first, I fell in love, I was dying to mutually fall in love with you, I thought I would die if I couldn’t be your lover, I even thought I would give up my life if you would kindly allow me to meet you (note that the man has perhaps not yet seen the woman in person and is simply desirous of a rendezvous in the flesh) 2)At last, you gave me the chance to meet you in your room (and, more likely than not, they had carnal knowledge of each other) 3)And now, I find myself happy in love with you so much that I cannot afford to lose this happy life for ever.

 These two poems, however, must have moved the heart of the woman in spite of the lack of originality and possible number of their cousins, simply because they were coming to her as a “後朝の文(kinu-ginu no fumi = the morning-after love letter)” ― is there any woman who does not feel flattered to be thanked for the loveliness of the first date? Considering the fact that some other women (quite a lot, actually) would not even receive any, such dramatic though stereotyped love poems coming in a day or two after the first night with the man never failed to sound simply wonderful.

 But things look quite different from the other side of the night. For every man who feels he cannot afford to lose his happy life together with the woman, there are more than one man (possibly many more men) who feels he cannot go on living if the woman does not allow him to meet (& love) her. The covetous love letters coming in from such love-thirsty male admirers declaring they were sure to die because of the heartlessness of YOU… just imagine how many, how frequent, how bothersome and counterproductive they could be. Any given man lacking in such affectionate imagination on the receiving side would deserve no permission to meet (let alone mate) from the woman.

 The following is a refusal from a woman to a man who has persistently declared he would die of unrequited love (without actually dying and ceasing to bother her with such sinister threats):

《いたづらにたびたびしぬといふめれば あふにはなにをかへむとすらむ:itazura ni tabitabi shinu to iu mereba au ni wa nani wo kaemu to su ramu?》『後撰集(Gosen-shuu)』恋(Love) No.708 by 中務(敦慶親王女:Nakatsukasa, daughter of Atsuyoshi Shin-ou)(源信明、頼む事無くば死ぬべしといへりければ:in reply to Minamoto-no-Saneakira who threatened her that he would die if his amorous desire was not rewarded by her affectionate admission)徒らに度々死ぬと言ふめれば(I have lost count of the number of your deaths in words that threatend me to meet you in vain)逢ふには何を替へむとすらむ(I wonder what you would give in exchange for meeting me other than your life which, I believe, must have already been lost for how many times only God knows)

 No sensible Japanese would ever imagine the word “死(death)” appears so many times in the writings in Heian era, when medical science was simply too primitive and the fear of death was much stronger than today. In fact, such wittily exaggerated “死(deaths)” were so rampant in Heianese TANKA that the expression “こひしぬ(koi-shinu = die of love)” appears more than twenty times in some 9,700 TANKA included in 八代集(hachidaishuu = eight great Imperial TANKA anthologies). Don’t say “ONLY twenty odd times?” ― for so tame a theme teeming in the TANKA world to appear tens of times in 勅撰和歌集(chokusen waka-shuu = Imperial TANKA anthologies)is phenomenal, don’t you think? Japanese high school students may well benefit in exams from the knowledge that “こひしなむ” and “こひしなまし” are not “恋し+なむ(s/he may fall in love)” and “恋し+なまし(I’d love to fall in love)” but “恋死なむ(I might die of love)” and “恋死なまし(I’m sure to die of love/I’d rather be dead than be alive without meeting you)” to the utter surprise of modern Japanese (and to the scornful weariness of Heianese ladies).

Having an English-speaking self within you is just like having a conversation partner like Sayaka-san/Jaugo-san beside you.
We provide you not with actual conversation partners, but we enable you to engage in intellectually enticing conversation with Sayaka-san/Jaugo-san(…no mean feat, isn’t it?)
WEB lessons by ZUBARAIE LLC. are currently for JAPANESE students only, conducted in Japanese language (…sorry for English speakers)