Sunday, June 5, 2016
Sunday Poetry - Lady Murasaki
The characters converse in very formal, circumscribed ways, often through two line poems. At the age of 17, Genji, the son of the Emperor & a very beautiful young man, has fallen in love with Utsusemi, the wife of an official. She is horrified by his advances & only piques his interest more by being so elusive. He recruits her young brother to his household so that he will be able to use him as a go-between. One of the poems he sends her refers to the robe he has taken from her room & which he keeps with him as a keepsake, as a cicada shell.
Underneath this tree, where the molting cicada shed her empty shell,
my longing still goes to her, for all I know her to be.
Utsusemi is secretly pleased with Genji's devotion although she knows that nothing can come of it. She writes a response to the poem on the same sheet of paper,
Just as drops of dew settle on cicada wings, concealed in this tree,
secretly, O secretly, these sleeves are wet with my tears.