Otomo no Sakenoue Iratsume was included in the first major anthology
of Japanese poetry
in the 8th century CE, compiled by her nephew, Otomo no Yakamochi
. He included 79 of her poem
s, more than any other woman
. A sample of her poetry - a choka
"...my heart that I had burnished slick as a true, clear mirror."
You spoke to me
with feelings fine as the sedge
where sunlight sweeps
across the bay,
and told me we would be together
"deep and long, through the years,"
and so I yielded you my heart
that I had burnished
slick as a true, clear mirror.
Since that day
my mind has known no pitch and roll,
no seaweed's swaying with the waves.
And now that I trust in you,
as I would in a great ship---
Oh is it the raging gods
that rend us apart
or is it the men of this world
who obstruct you?---
my Lord, who came back and forth to me,
you cease to come.
And lately I do not even see
with his jeweled catalpha staff,
and I am helpless in my terrible despair.
All through the pitch-black nights
and through the days
till the red-trailing sun yields to dusk
but there is no use,
but there is nothing I can do.
Just as they say---
"a frail-limbed woman"---
I wander about,
weeping and crying aloud like a child.
How long, I wonder, can I wait
for your messenger.
If you had not made me
place my trust in you,
promising me "forever,"
would I have fallen
into such longing?
From The ten thousand leaves: a translation of the Manyoshu, Japan's premier anthology of classical poetry
, translated by Ian Hideo Levy (Princeton
library of Asian translations). Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, c1981-. (v. : ill.)
LC#: PL758.15 .A3 1981; ISBN: 0691064520. :#619-620; pp.289-290