FORTY-THREE WAYS OF LOOKING AT NARIHIRA

Kokinshu #747 / Ise monogatari 4, by Ariwara no Narihira, 825-880
compiled by Anthony H. Chambers, Arizona State University
(with a nod to Weinberger and Paz, who look to Wallace Stevens)

INTRODUCTION TO THE POEM

Topic: Love
Once, quite without premeditation, Narihira began to make love to a lady who lived in the western wing of a palace belonging to the Gojo Empress. Shortly after the tenth of the First Month, the lady moved away with no word to him. He learned where she had gone, but it was impossible to communicate with her. In the spring of the following year, when the plum blossoms were at their finest, memories of the preceding year drew him back to the western wing on a beautiful moonlit night. He lay on the floor of the bare room until the moon sank low in the sky. (translated by Steven D. Carter)

THE POEM

tsuki ya aranu haru ya mukashi no haru naranu waga mi hitotsu wa moto no mi ni shite

FORTY-THREE TRANSLATIONS

1. Moon? There is none.
Spring? 'Tis not the spring
Of former days:
It is I alone
Who have remained unchanged (Aston, 1899)

2.         No moon!
            The spring
Is not the spring of the old days,
            My body
Is not my body,
But only a body grown old. (Pound and Fenollosa, 1917)

3. Can it be that there is no moon
And that spring is not
The spring of old,
While I alone remain
The same person? (Waley, 1919)

4. The moon and spring come round as in old days,
But I alone am changed in earthly ways. (Wakameda, 1922)

5. And the light of the moon was not so serene
Or the spring quite the same as the springs of yore,
Yet still is he the Narihira of old (Sadler, 1934)

6. Is it then true that
There is no longer a moon,
    That the Spring is not
The Spring of former days--that
    I alone remain unchanged? (Whitehouse, 1938)

7. Is the moon changed?
Is spring no longer
What it was of yore,
While I remain my old self? (NGSKK, 1955)

8. This is not the moon,
Nor is this the spring,
Of other springs,
And I alone
Am still the same. (Rexroth, 1956)

9. Is not that the moon?
And is not the spring the same
Spring of the old days?
My body is the same body--
Yet everything seems different. (Vos, 1957)

10. What now is real?
This moon, this spring, are altered
        From their former being--
While this alone, my mortal body, remains
As ever changed by love beyond all change. (Brower and Miner, 1961)

11. Can it be that the moon has changed?
Can it be that the spring
Is not the spring of old times?
Is it my body alone
That is just the same? (Bownas and Thwaite, 1964)

12. This is not the moon
And it cannot be this is the spring
Such as the spring I knew;
I myself the single thing
Remaining as it ever was. (Miner, 1968)

13. Is not the moon the same?
The spring
The spring of old?
Only this body of mine
Is the same body . . . (McCullough, 1968)

14. Is it not the moon--
is it not the spring--
of yesteryear?
And oh, myself too as I used to be. (Honda, 1970)

15. The moon: is it not . . .
The spring: is it not . . . last year's
spring yet unchanged? no,
This body of mine alone
seems the same as once before. (Harris, 1972)

16. The moon, the spring, are the moon and spring of old.
And only I remain as I was then. (Seidensticker, 1974)

17. The moon is not the same,
And spring is not the spring
Of olden days--
It is only I,
I alone, who remain unchanged. (Zolbrod, 1974)

18. The moon--is it gone?
Spring, the by-gone days'
Spring no longer,
While I alone among all
Remain the same as of old? (Shimazaki, 1977)

19. The moon is not the moon of that year!
Spring is not the spring of that year!
I alone am the same as I was then. (Walker, 1979)

20. Is not the moon the same?
And is not the spring the same
As other springs?
I alone, though still myself,
(have not remained unchanged). (Hochstedler, 1979)

21. It is not the moon of old
Nor has the spring become the spring of old
Only I am still the same. (Chibbett, 1979)

22. Surely this is the moon,
surely this spring
is the spring of years past--
or am I the only one
the same as before? (Watson, 1981)

23. is this not that moon
is this spring not that spring we
    shared so long ago
it seems that I alone am
unaltered from what was then (Rodd, 1984)

24. This is not that moon!
Nor is this spring the spring that was
In those days bygone!
My being the single thing
Remaining as it ever was . . . (Gatten, 1986)

25. That is not the moon,
Nor is this
The spring of years gone by.
I alone remain
As I was before. (Hare, 1986)

26. Is not the moon--
        or the spring,
the spring of the past?
        Alone I remain
my selfsame self. (Field, 1987)

27. Is not that the moon?
Is this not the spring of old?
Is it only my body
which remains as it was? (Jackson, 1988)

28. Is it not the same moon?
Is this spring not the same
Spring of old?
Myself alone remains
A self unchanged as ever. (Huey, 1989)

29. Is this not the moon?
And is this not the springtime,
the springtime of old?
Only this body of mine
the same body as before . . . (Carter, 1991)

30. Is that not the moon
and the spring not the spring
of long ago?
Yet only I remain
as I was before. (Goff, 1991)

31. This is not that moon.
And this spring is not that spring
Of long ago.
While I myself
Am just as I was before . . . (Pekarik, 1991)

32. Is that the same moon?
Is this the same old springtime,
the same ancient spring?
And is this not my body
the same body you once knew? (Hamill, 1992)

33. Is this not the moon, this spring not the spring of old? Am I alone the one I ever was? (Tyler, prose translation, 1992)

34. Is that moon the same?
Are these plum blossoms the same
as those of last year?
Only this body of mine
remains unchanged as ever. (Ueda, 1993)

35. Is there no moon?
And is this springtime not the spring
        Of times gone by?
Myself alone remaining
Still the self I was before . . . (Cranston, 1996)

36.  Here, here is the moon
    And the spring that always comes --
    Here, here is that spring
Yet, my body, my body
Is just the same as before  (Wallace, 1997)

37. There's not a moon, is there? This spring is not the spring of old, is it? Am I myself, the only thing remaining as before (Brazell, prose translation, 1998)

38. Is that not the moon?
And is the spring not the spring
Of a year ago?
This body of mine alone
Remains as it was before. (Keene, 1999)

39. Is there not the moon?
And is not the spring
The spring of old?
My self alone
Remains as it was . . . (Rubin, 1999)

40. Is this not the moon, is this spring not the spring of old, while only I remain just as I was then? (Tyler, prose translation, 2001)

41. Is this not that moon?
And Spring: is as the Spring of old
Is it not?
Only this body of mine
Is as it ever was . . . (McAuley, 2001)

42. The moon is not that moon, nor the spring the spring of old
and I alone am as I was before. (Chambers, 2002)

43.

Moon? Is that not you?
Spring? Are you not the spring of long ago?
My body is the one thing
That is as it once was
(Wilson, 2002)








Sources

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