Kakinomoto no Asomi Hitomaro

(662 - 710 / Japan)

I Do Speak These Words, Though - Poem by Kakinomoto no Asomi Hitomaro

I do speak these words, though
They may profane what's holy;
I speak them
Filled with awe:
At Asuka,
On the field of Makami,
Our eternal,
Divine Emperor,
As would a god,
To rest within stone halls.
All knowing and all powerful,
Our Emperor
The northern provinces.
Fuwa mountain crossing,
To Koryo-bladed,
Wazami field,
To a new palace
He came down from heaven;
The state,
He governed;
The land, he ruled.
That was his decision.
From the cock-crowing
Eastern provinces,
His warriors
He called.
'The rough
Folk, pacify; and
The unruly
Lands, control,' said he to
His son, my prince,
And fitting to that state.
To your mighty body,
You strapped your sword;
In your hand,
You held your bow;
Your warriors,
You summoned:
The call to arms
Drums' roar
The thunder
The sounding of
The battle horns were as
At the foe
A tiger roaring.
Many folk
Were thus struck with fear.
High flying
Banners snapping?
Buried in winter,
With the spring
The fields
Are set ablaze;
Fire with the wind
Blows back and forth?
The snap of bowstrings:
As a snow-covered
Winter woodland
Rent by a whirlwind,
Twisting round and over,
It sounded,
Loosing, shooting
A multitude of arrows,
A blizzard,
Confused and falling;
The unruly
Foe stood fast
As dew and frost,
'If we die then so be it!'
Like flocking birds.
Then amidst the battle,
From Watarai,
From the holy shrine,
The gods' own wind
Blew down confusion,
Heaven's clouds,
Hid the sunlight;
Utter darkness
Covered all,
And overwhelmed them.
In this Land of Bounteous Grain
My prince was a god,
Every corner;
My great prince
The state,
For a myriad reigns
It would be so, we thought;
But when bright as mulberry-cloth flowers
He flourished,
My dear prince,
His palace,
As a god's shrine,
Was garlanded and
He was laid within;
The prince's servants
White hempen
Mourning dress put on;
At Haniyasu,
On the field before the palace,
Glowing madder red
The sunlight;
Like beasts,
They trailed in and laid them down;
With lily seed
Dusk's arrival,
On the great hall
They fixed their gaze;
As peeping quail,
Crawled they on their bellies.
They served you but,
Now there is no point:
As birds of spring,
They moaned;
Our grieving too
Is not yet done;
Our sorrow too
Is not exhausted;
Mangled words
From the field of Kudara
In a god's funeral
We interred you.
As goodly flax,
Your shrine at Kinoe:
An eternal palace,
Built high for you.
As a god
Are you enshrined.
Though that be so,
My great prince,
Would live a myriad years,
I thought.
You had built
A palace at Mt Kagu.
For a myriad years
There you would endure, I thought.
As does the sky,
It fills my gaze,
A jeweled sash
Holding my thoughts
Full of awe.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 6, 2010

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