A poem from the Kokin Wakashuu

The Kokinshu is a famous anthology of some 1100 poems from the 12th century. I would like to present one of my favourite from this collection.
The author of this poem is unknown.

momiji midarete
wataraba nishiki
naka ya taenamu
Tatsuta river -
red leaves are floating
in chaotic pattern;
crossing here would be
cutting their brocade...

(Note: I used here earlier a translation of Helen McCullough without permission, now I removed it and replaced with my much-less poetic translation.)

Despite its age, the poem is almost readable in modern Japanese.
wataraba would be watareba today, but in classical Japanese the ba suffix was added not only to the izenkei, but to the mizenkei too.
meri is a suffix to soften the statement in the sentence, making it less direct... like ellipsis at the end of this sentence...
taenamu is from taeru: to cut, to sever.
The nu suffix is added first, to indicate perfectness of the action: taenu: to cut through. Then we add the mu suffix, indicating conjecture. It is always added to the mizenkei stem: the mizenkei of the nu suffix is na, so finally we got tae-na-mu: "I would cut through (the brocade of red leaves)"

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