Continuing to mourn the passing of Emperor Tenji.




Two poems from the time the Emperor was interred at the temporary mortuary.

如是有乃 <懐>知勢婆 大御船 泊之登萬里人 標結麻思乎            [額田王]

かからむと  かねてしりせば  おほみふね  はてしとまりに  しめゆはましを

If only I had known before

That it would be like this

I’d circumscribe the harbor

Where your royal barge had docked!

Princess Nukata


八隅知之 吾期大王乃 大御船 待可将戀 四賀乃辛埼        [舎人吉年]

やすみしし  わごおほきみの  おほみふね  まちかこふらむ  しがのからさき

Do you wait in yearning

Shiga’s Karasaki

For the royal barge

Of my well-rested lord?

— Toneri no Yoshitoshi (?)

Read on for details.


かからむと  かねてしりせば  おほみふね  はてしとまりに  しめゆはましを

しめゆ – I think this is related to しめなわ (shimenawa), the rope used to demark sacred areas. So “roped off” or something like that. At any rate, doing something to prevent either coming or going.

An interesting note about this waka of Princess Nukata: it resounds with the repeated mora shi; it hits squarely on the 7-morae phrases, twice in the final one (kaneteshiri … hateshishimeyuwamashio). Shi, of course, is the homonym of both the number four (四) and death (死). Appropriately, according to the headnote to this poem, it was composed at the time of Emperor Tenji’s internment at the temporary mortuary. Seemingly the repetition of shi in this poem not only reflects the semantic content, but also creates a visual pun with shi repeated exactly four times. Whether Princess Nukata composed this poem with such premeditation is unclear, but the mere appearance of repetition at the very least bespeaks a remarkable coincidence. A little off the wall, but interesting to think about.


やすみしし  わごおほきみの  おほみふね  まちかこふらむ  しがのからさき

しがのからさき: Literally Cape Kara in Shiga.

舎人吉年: Toneri no Yoshitoshi is the reading I’ve encountered, but there’s no definitive reading here.