Attendant to Empress Kōka’s “Must I devote myself for wading into passion?” (Hyakunin Isshu #88)

By Attendant to Empress Kōka (~12th Century)
A reed cut-off from
Naniwa Bay—
Must I devote myself
For wading into
Passion that night?
Original Japanese
Kōka Moin no Betto
Naniwae no
Ashi no karine no
Hitoyo yue
Mi wo tsukushite ya
Koi wataru beki
Literal Notes
Naniwa Bay ’s
Reeds ’s cut-(reed)/nap/temporary ’s
[One-night/all-night/one-joint] [reason/cause/circumstance/fasten/fix]
[Body/self] [relying-entirely-on/using-solely/exhausting/all-sorts/all-kinds]
Love/tender-passion pass/cross-over/wade must
Naniwa was the ancient name for Osaka while Naniwa Bay was a famous place for lovers to meet. It is also famous for the growth of rushes. This poem was written on the topic of “love at a travel inn.”
This tanka is heavy on the wordplay. “Karine” can mean either a nap or the cut stump of a reed. “Hitoyo” can either mean one night or one joint of a rush. “Mi wo tsukushite” can either mean exhausting yourself or a water measuring gauge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.