Yamabuki’s poem at the Barrier Strait

RedPineThe Tale of Genji was written in the late 900s C. E. by a woman known to history by the name Murasaki. The work is considered by many to be the earliest novel ever written. The author was believed to have been a lady in the emperor’s court and her observations are said to be a thinly disguised fictionalization of the people she knew. Most people who are familiar with Japanese literature will say the work is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, work in Japanese literature.

It is interesting that the greatest work in Japanese literature would have been written by a female. But this was in part due to the circumstances of the time. Scholarly men were taken with things Chinese and with Chinese calligraphy. Although the story of the adoption of Chinese characters is more complicated than space permits here, what happened was that women (who usually were not “allowed” to study Chinese) wrote “Japanese,” that is to say, not in the Chinese script or manner.

In keeping with this tradition, Yamabuki translates poems from the Chinese into the more decipherable and accessible characters used to write Japanese. The Yamabuki series seeks to honor those early writers and writings which often came from the brushes and ink stones of women.

The night before Yamabuki crosses the Kanmon Strait, she translates a Chinese poem and modifies it for her purposes. The poem upon which her translation is based is an actual poem called Shengkuo Temple and was written by the 9th century Chinese poet, Ch’u-mo. The original can be found here: http://books.google.com/books?id=ctjhRx28qDgC&pg

Her translation is:

A winding overgrown trail
Leading down from soaring peaks
Ageless trees at the Barrier Strait
Blue skies merge with churning waters

The first four chapters of Cold Blood take Yamabuki down a trail at the foot of soaring peaks. There she stands at the Barrier Strait looking at the blue skies and waters that separate Kyushu from Honshu.

4 thoughts on “Yamabuki’s poem at the Barrier Strait

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  1. 😀 Getting so pumped to see the continuation of the story! Murasaki was a really interesting woman, and so was her father, who set up those circumstances that allowed her to get away with so much (and she really did! Monks of the time thought that the work was so bad they ordered it burned. People were really upset that she suggested that the imperial line was no longer pure with the work. 😛 )

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  2. 😀 Getting so pumped to see the continuation of the story! Murasaki was a really interesting woman, and so was her father, who set up those circumstances that allowed her to get away with so much (and she really did! Monks of the time thought that the work was so bad they ordered it burned. People were really upset that she suggested that the imperial line was no longer pure with the work. 😛 )

    Like

  3. Blood line purity. Good point! Did not know that about the monks. Yamabuki gets into a verbal bout with Long Sword and lets fly with a remark having to do with the Oouchi clan blood line.

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  4. Blood line purity. Good point! Did not know that about the monks. Yamabuki gets into a verbal bout with Long Sword and lets fly with a remark having to do with the Oouchi clan blood line.

    Like

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