"Princess Nukata, one of the finest poets in the first
part of the Man'yoshu, lived in the turbulent time of the establishment
of the Imperial Clan as the rulers of Japan. She, like Sappho,
is half legendary, but is considered to have been a divine messenger,
an oracle or shamaness, and a public poet. Her greatness lies
in her ability to combine in universal terms the expression of
personal passion and powerful collective emotion -- and in the
extraordinary beauty of her sonorous poetry, which would seem
to show a long period of conscious aesthetic development from
the pre-literate poetry gathered in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki."
NUKATA'S PALACE HUT AT UJI
According to Edwin Cranston, poems written by royalty about
thatched huts, signal the "nascent pastoralism" soon
to become a dominant mode of appreciating nature and the lives
of simpler people among the Nara (710) aristocracy . In fact,
as Cranston points out, Japanese royalty lived in unpretentious
thatched buildings until about 600.
In the autumn fields
We cut grasses for the thatch,
And we lodged the night:
How my thoughts go back again
To our palace-hut at Uji!
LET'S GET TO ROWING!
In regard to the incoming tide, "scholars have calculated
the date and moment of high tide as 2:00 A.M., on the twenty-third
of the first month by the lunar calendar."
We have waited for the moon
Before boarding our boat;
Now the tide is in at last --
Come, let's get to rowing!
SPRING MOUNTAINS, AUTUMN MOUNTAINS
"When the Emperor commanded the Palace Minister, Fujiwara
no Asomi, to match the radiance of the myriad blossoms of the
spring mountains against the colors of the thousand leaves of
the autumn mountains, Princess Nukata decided the question with
When spring comes forth
That lay in hiding all the winter through,
The birds that did not sing
Come back and sing to us once more;
The flowers that did not bloom
Have blossomed everywhere again.
Yet so rife the hills
We cannot make our way to pick,
And so deep the grass
We cannot pluck the flowers to see.
But when on autumn hills
We gaze upon the leaves of trees,
It is the yellow ones
We pluck and marvel for sheer joy,
And the ones still green,
Sighing, leave upon the boughs --
Those are the ones I hate to lose.
For me, it is the autumn hills.
"The route out of Yamato goes north past Mount Miwa (homophonous
with miwa, "offertory wine") and over the Nara Mountain,
which did not yet look down on the imperial city later built
nearby. Mount Miwa was the site of an ancient Shinto cult, and
thus a particularly sacred spot."
Nara Mountain's mountain crest
Should come between
And you be hidden in behind,
Should pile back upon themselves,
To the very end
I would have kept you:
O my mountain,
Have heartless clouds to cover you?
Do you dare to hide
Miwa Mountain in this way?
At least you, O clouds,
Should have greater heart than that:
What right have you to cover it?
While I wait for you,
My lord, lost in this longing,
Suddenly there comes
A stirring of my window blind:
The autumn wind is blowing.