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April 15, 2016

Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each): Poem 16 (Ariwara no Yukihira)

Hyakunin Isshu, Poem 16

Inaba no yama no
mine ni ouru
matsu to shi kikaba
ima kaerikomu


Even if I depart now
and leave for Mount Inaba,
on whose peak grow pines,
if I hear you pine for me
I will right away hurry back!

Ariwara no Yukihira (818-893)

[Pine tree in the mountains (Photo Wikipedia)]

Regret about the parting from friends in the capital when being sent as governor to the provinces. The poet stresses how difficult it is for him to leave. This poem was probably written during the farewell party held for the poet. 

The courtier, bureaucrat and poet Ariwara no Yukihira (818-893) was the scholarly older brother (by a different mother) of Ariwara no Narihira (Poem 17) and a grandson of Emperor Heizei, via Prince Abo. He reached the court rank of Chunagon, middle counselor. Four authentic poems have been preserved in the Kokinshu, and four more in the Gosenshu. The present poem was written in 855 when Yukihira was sent to serve as governor of Inaba Province (now part of Tottori Prefecture). Provincial governor was a middle-ranking position, financially not unattractive, but unpopular as it meant one had to leave the bright lights (and career possibilities) of the capital. 

The poem contains two pivot words (kakekotoba). Mount Inaba (a mountain in Inaba Province, close to the seat of the provincial government) is also a pun on "inaba," "even if I depart." And "matsu" in line four means both "pine tree" and "to wait" - or "to pine." Additionally, the first three lines form a jokotoba (preface) to "matsu." Note that the pine tree standing lonely on the mountain is also a symbol for the loneliness of the poet in Inaba Province.

[Ariwara no Yukihira in exile on Suma Beach, with the two fishing girl sisters, by Yoshitoshi (Photo Wikipedia)]

Mostow tells that Yukihira was in the first place known for his exile to Suma (in present-day Kobe), where he presumably had a love affair with two fisher girls, Matsukaze and Murasame. The sisters waited in vain for Yukihira after he had returned to the capital Heiankyo (Kyoto). This story was picked up in the Noh play Matsukaze and also led to a popular change in interpretation of the present poem: instead of reading it as written when Yukihira left Heiankyo to go to Inaba, it was interpreted as written when Yukihira was leaving Inaba, to return to the sisters on the beach of Suma (although this disregards the opening line!). Yukihira's exile in Suma may also have inspired Murasaki Shikibu to have her hero Genji exiled to the same place in the Suma and Akashi chapters of the The Tale of Genji.

[Also included in Kokinshu 365]
References: Pictures of the Heart, The Hyakunin Isshu in Word and Image by Joshua S. Mostow (University of Hawai'i Press, 1996); Traditional Japanese Poetry, An Anthology, by Steven D. Carter (Stanford University Press, 1991); Hyakunin Isshu by Inoue Muneo, etc. (Shinchosha, 1990); Genshoku Hyakunin Isshu by Suzuki Hideo, etc. (Buneido, 1997); Ogura Hyakunin Isshu at Japanese Text Initiative (University of Virginia Library Etext Center); Hyakunin Isshu wo aruku by Shimaoka Shin (Kofusha Shuppan); Hyakunin Isshu, Ocho waka kara chusei waka e by Inoue Muneo (Chikuma Shoin, 2004); Basho's Haiku (2 vols) by Toshiharu Oseko (Maruzen, 1990); The Ise Stories by Joshua S. Mostow and Royall Tyler (University of Hawai'i Press, 2010); Kokin Wakashu, The First Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poetry by Helen Craig McCullough (Stanford University Press, 1985); Kokinshu, A Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern by Laurel Rasplica Rodd and Mary Catherine Henkenius (University of Tokyo Press, 1984); Kokin Wakashu (Shogakkan, 1994); Shinkokin Wakashu (Shogakkan, 1995); Taketori Monogatari-Ise Monogatari-Yamato Monogatari-Heichu Monogatari (Shogakkan, 1994). 
Hyakunin Isshu Introduction - Poem 1 - Poem 2 - Poem 3 - Poem 4 - Poem 5 - Poem 6 - Poem 7 - Poem 8 - Poem 9 - Poem 10 - Poem 11 - Poem 12 - Poem 13 - Poem 14 - Poem 15 - Poem 16 - Poem 17 - Poem 18 - Poem 19 - Poem 20 -