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27th September, 2007


tama ni nuku tsuyu wa koborete musashino no
kusa no ha musubu aki no hatsukaze

Saigyo (1118 - 1190)     Shinchokusen Wakashu 196.

"Dew turns into pearl and overflows the Musashi plane,
where the leaves of grass taste the first wind of autumn..."

The verb musubu actually means 'scoop (water) with cupped hands', that is, the grass scoops the autunm wind, - an allusion to the famous waka of Ki no Tsurayuki (872-945) KKS 2:


sode ijite musubishi mizu no kooreru wo
harutatsu kyou no kaze ya tokuramu

"I scoop water with my cupped hands, soaking my sleeves...
Will the first wind of Spring dry it?"

Literally, the water, which soaked the sleeves of the poet, freezes, and he only hopes that the mild weather of the Spring will melt it. I just felt awkward to use the word "melt" in this context...

Translations by Zoltan Barczikay.