Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Asia
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Asia: Vols. XXI–XXIII.  1876–79.
 
Japan: Niphon (Nippon), the Island
The Journey of Tonase and Konami from Kamakura to Yamashina
From the Japanese
 
Anonymous translation

KONAMI
WHO first on thee, O fleeting world,
  Thy name bestowed, O Aska stream, I pray
  Thee tell me who art onwards whirled
Mid shifting sandbanks, so changeful is the way
  Of life to us from happ’ness hurled,—        5
A wavelet now hath touched thy well-known strand
  Whom Yenya welcomed as the bride
Of his esquire who long had sought her hand,
  Low-fallen with Yenya’s fall her pride!
She was betrothed, and Kakogawa’s child        10
  Fond hope deep in her being bore,
But adverse Fortune ne’er upon her smiled,
  No bridal gifts exchanged, no more
  By lover sought, her soul is sad.
 
TONASE
Peace, daughter, peace, thy mother bids thee haste
        15
  Towards Yamashina, where glad
By bridegroom thou shalt surely be embraced.
  Alas! a bride-train thus forlorn
Hath never yet in all the world been known;
  With doubt and grief my heart is torn,        20
Without attendant, mother and child alone,
  On foot must urge their weary way,
And strive Yamato’s far-off land to gain.
 
KONAMI
My body ’s white as snow, men say,
  The chilly winds with crimson hue it stain        25
  Such as the wild-plum’s flower make gay,
My fingers all are sore benumbed with cold,
  Apt name Kogoye Pass is thine:
O’er Satta’s ridge our further way we hold,
  Thence gazing back the curling line        30
All pensive watch of vaguely erring smoke
  That issueth from Fuji’s peak
And vanishing in the lofty sky is broke;
  How sweet if ’t were the bonfire’s reek
At threshold lit my welcome home a bride,        35
  How ’t would our sadness charm away!
With pines o’ergrown Matsbara’s plain so wide
  Now traversed crowded in the way,
The sea-coast way, by some great Daimio’s train,
  I know not whose, how blithe and gay        40
They seem, ah! when shall we know joy again.
 
TONASE
  O would that Fortune smiling were
Upon us, proud thy bridal train should be:
  Than thee, none happier, none more fair;
Now yonder may we Sur’ga’s Fuchiu see,        45
  The omen cheers thy mother’s heart,
Her child shall yet the marriage pledge exchange,
  By husband yet be led apart,
In bridal bower sweet vows to interchange
  In tender whispers heard by none.        50
Narrows the path through the briers hardly seen,
  To parent as to child unknown,
Fain wouldst thou now on lover’s strong arm lean.
 
KONAMI
  On Mariko’s sunny bank we stand,
His rapid stream shall bear our griefs away,        55
  Dear mother; now on our right hand
High Utsu’s hill we leave behind, O, say
  Shall I my lord’s new pillow press,
Half sleeping, by a bridegroom’s arms embraced,
  What mighty cares my mind distress!        60
Ohoi river, thou whose waters haste
  In rapid tumult onwards sped,
As fleeting often is the love of man,
  Yet ’t is not fickleness I dread
In him I love, but ’neath misfortune’s ban        65
  Our love’s full flower can hardly blow.
Our feet upon Shiradska’s bridge now stand:
  Past Yoshida we further go
To Akasaka; our wearied limbs demand
  Repose; the beckoning women cry,        70
That throng the door of every inn, “Fair bride,
  To Kymid’s far-famed temple nigh,
To Otowa’s roaring falls choose you a guide;
  Say, lady, will you not delay,
Adore the temple’s deity and view        75
  How to the god the Pilgrims pay
With sacred dance and music homage due,
  And join in the applauding shout,
And share the merry throng’s loud happiness.”
  “Ah, no; I cannot linger; doubt        80
And fear us restless towards the city press.”
 
TONASE
  Right, daughter; were thy lover here,
  Three suppliants we would Ise’s god revere.
 
KONAMI
Thus we our clownish verses sing;
To Nar’migáta’s town we come. Success        85
  The happy name I trust may bring.
Ha! Atsta’s shrine descry we yonder,—yes,
  Full seven leagues across the bay.
Haul taut the sail, bend, mother, bend to the oar,
  With measured stroke,—away, away,—        90
Haste, mother, haste, far yet the further shore.
  Hark! as we steer how loud the cry.
Is it the scream of some tiny súdsu fly,
  Or is it rather the chirruping shriek
Of the grasshopper that, as the old song tells, doth cry        95
  Through the chilly nights when the hoar-frosts lie.
The even latens fast, and darksome night
  Us threatens ere we have attained
Yon nearing shore, while yet the day is light.
  O mother, every nerve be strained.        100
 
BOTH
How fierce the hail drives through the windy air;
  We cover from the storm our heads,
Now side by side our barques through the waters tear
  Now one the laggard other leads;
Sh-kame’s Hill we pass, awhile        105
At Seki rest, wherefrom the Eastern way
  Parts stretching south for many a mile,
The road that leads through Isé,—the merry play
  Of packhorse bells we hear as thee
We reach, Sudsuka, Ainotruchi’s peak,        110
  Rain-dimmed, now hardly may we see.
Rain ever dims, men say, its summit bleak.
  O Minaguchi,—the rocky vale
Of Ishite we next fatigued toil through,
  Pass Ohods’, Nii’s temple hail,        115
The hillside skirt, our further way pursue,
  And now a petty hamlet nigh
Yamashina,—our journey’s end,—descry.
 
 
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