Basho: By the roadside, ~ a rose—but for the horse, ~ Merely grub

  My Translation By the roadside, A rose—but for the horse, Merely grub! Original Japanese 道の辺の木槿は馬に喰われけり Japanese Pronunciation Google Translator Michi no be no Mukuge wa uma ni Kuware keri Literal Road’s nearby’s Rose of Sharon is horse by Is eaten [with a vulgar connotation]

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From Hyakunin Isshu, a tanka: “I’ll return soon, or die trying”

This was an incredibly difficult one to translate because almost every line had multiple possible meanings, especially the fourth line. When the Japanese poetry write in hiragana, their alphabet, they are intentionally leaving open multiple possible interpretations as many words have the same sounds. However, …

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Basho’s “What about the child abandoned with the autumn wind?”

According to Basho’s travel diary, he wrote this after seeing a child of about three-years-old abandoned and crying by the road. He felt so sad that he gave him what little food he had. Unfortunately, back then, abandonment was common because of the extreme poverty …

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From Basho: “The clouds and fog twirl and twist”

  My Translation The clouds and fog Twirl and twist so fast— In every possible way! Original Japanese 雲霧の暫時百景を尽くしけり Japanese Pronunciation Google Translator Kumo kiri no Sanji hyakkei o Tsukushi keri Literal Translation Clouds [fog/mist]’s [in a short time / in a while] hundred scenery …

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From Hyakunin Isshu: “While the snow sprinkles on my sleeve”

My Translation By Emperor Koko It is for you that I walk the fields of spring, Plucking youthful herbs— While the snow Sprinkles on my sleeve. Original Japanese 光孝天皇 君がため 春の野に出でて 若菜つむ わが衣手に 雪はふりつつ Japanese Pronunciation GoogleTranslator Koko Tenno Kimi ga tame Haru no no …

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Basho: Foggy wintry shower ~ And I can’t see Mt. Fujii ~ How interesting!

My Translation Foggy wintry shower And I can’t see Mt. Fuji— How interesting! Original Japanese 霧時雨富士を見ぬ日ぞ面白き Japanese Pronunciation Google Translator Kiri shigure Fuji wo minu hi zo Omoshiroki Literal Mist/fog Wintry shower Mt. Fuji see cannot day Interesting/attractive!

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Basho: A bleached skull exposed

Basho wrote this one while walking on a pilgrimage, seeing an exposed skull in the field [probably figuratively]. My Translation A bleached skull exposed— As wind pierces my soul, Freezing the heart. Original Japanese 野ざらしを心に風のしむ身哉 Japanese Pronunciation Google Translator Nozarashi wo Kokoro ni kaze no …

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From Hyakunin Isshu: Dyed and tangled, trapped in secret love

In this tanka, Kawara no Sadaijin sees a fine, intricate fern cloth printing, which reminds him of how tangled and chaotic his feelings are toward a woman he loves. The pronunciation for fern is the same as for remembering or concealing oneself, which gives it …

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Emperor Yozei’s gathering passion (from Hyakunin Isshu)

My Translation By Emperor Yozei From Tsukuba’s Male and female peaks Falls the Minano River— Gathering, like my passion, In a deep pool. Original Japanese 陽成院 筑波嶺の 峰より落つる みなの川 恋ぞつもりて 淵となりぬる Japanese Pronunciation Google Translator Yozei In Tsukuba ne no Mine yori otsuru Minano gawa …

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