Text of Nara Poem Project

Texts of the Manyoshu

Author Poems
A Young Woman of Hitachi
  • 521
  • 52-53
  • 79-80
  • 177
  • 549
  • 671
  • 1657
Ato Tobira
  • 710
Emperor Jomei
  • 2
Emperor Temmu
  • 103
Emperor Tenji
  • 13-15
Emperor Yuryaku
  • 1
Empress Jito
  • 28
Empress Kogyoku
  • 3-4
  • 485-487
Empress Komyo
  • 1658
Empress Yamato-hime
  • 147
  • 148
  • 149
Empress lwa-no-hime
  • 85-88
Fujiwara Hirotsugu
  • 1456
Fujiwara Kamatari
  • 95
Hanishi Mitoshi
  • 557
Kakinomoto Hitomaro
  • 131-133
  • 194-95
  • 496-497
Kasa Kanamura
  • 1453-1455
Lady Abe
  • 506
  • 514
Lady Fujiwara
  • 104
Lady Ishikawa
  • 108
Lady Kasa
  • 594
  • 596
  • 600
  • 602-605
  • 607-608
Lady Ki
  • 1460
  • 1461
Lady Otomo of Sakanoe
  • 1500
  • 1656
Lady Otomo of Sakanoe's Elder Daughter
  • 731
Lady Otomo of Tamura
  • 1622
  • 573
Otomo Miyori
  • 650
Otomo Momoyo
  • 559-560
Otomo Sukunamaro
  • 532
Otomo Tabito
  • 574
Otomo Yakamochi
  • 718-719
  • 722
  • 728
  • 741
  • 1479
  • 1491
Otomo Yotsuna
  • 571
  • 709
Prince Arima
  • 141-142
Prince Atsumi
  • 1435
Prince Ikusa
  • 5-6
Prince Omi
  • 24
Prince Otsu
  • 107
Prince Shiki
  • 1418
Prince Yuhara
  • 632
  • 670
  • 1552
Princess Kagami
  • 489
Princess Nukada
  • 8
  • 16
  • 17-18
Princess Oku
  • 105-106
Tajihi Yanushi
  • 1442
Taniha Ome
  • 711
Wife of Go Dan-ochi
  • 500
Yamabe Akahito
  • 1424
  • 1427
Yamanoe Okura
  • 63
Young Lady
  • 1457

Book I

1: Emperor Yuryaku

Your basket, with your pretty basket,
Your trowel, with your little trowel,
Maiden, picking herbs on this hill-side,
I would ask you: Where is your home?
Will you not tell me your name?
Over the spacious Land of Yamato
It is I who reign so wide and far,
It is I who rule so wide and far.
I myself, as your lord, will tell you
Of my home, and my name.

2: Emperor Jomei

Countless are the mountains in Yamato,
But perfect is the heavenly hill of Kagu;
When I climb it and survey my realm,
Over the wide plain the smoke-wreaths rise and rise,
Over the wide lakes the gulls are on the wing;
A beautiful land it is, the Land of Yamato!

3-4: Empress Kogyoku

Hear the twang of the mid-strings
Of his royal birchwood bow,
Which my Sovereign, ruling in peace,
Loves to handle at break of day,
And fondly leans against with dusk.
Now he must be out for his morning hunt,
Now he must be out for his evening chase;
I hear the twang of the mid-string
Of his loved birchwood bow! With horses drawn abreast
On the open waste of Uchi,
This morning he must be trampling
That grassy land!

5-6: Prince Ikusa

Not knowing that the long spring day-
The misty day-is spent,
Like the 'night-thrush';I grieve within me,
As sorely my heart aches.
Then across the hills where our Sovereign sojourns,
Luckily the breezes blow
And turn back my sleeves with morn and eve,
As I stay alone;
But, being on a journey, grass for pillow,
Brave man as I deem me,
I know not how to cast off
My heavy sorrows;
And like the salt-fires the fisher-girls
Burn on the shore of Ami,
I burn with the fire of longing
In my heart. Fitful gusts of wind are blowing
Across the mountain-range,
And night after night I lie alone,
Yearning for my love at home.

8: Princess Nukada

While at Nigitazu we await the moon
To put our ships to sea,
With the moon the tide has risen;
Now let us embark!

13-15: Emperor Tenji

Mount Kagu strove with Mount Miminashi
For the love of Mount Unebi.
Such is love since the age of the gods;
As it was thus in the early days,
So people strive for spouses even now. When Mount Kagu and Mount Miminashi wrangled,
A god came over and saw it
Here-on this plain of Inami!
On the rich banner-like clouds
That rim the waste of waters
The evening sun is glowing,
And promises to-night
The moon in beauty!

16: Princess Nukada

When, loosened from the winter's bonds,
The spring appears,
The birds that were silent
Come out and sing,
The flowers that were prisoned
Come out and bloom;
But the hills are so rank with trees
We cannot seek the flowers,
And the flowers ate so tangled with weeds
We cannot take them in our hands.
But when on the autumn hill-side
We see the foliage,
We prize the yellow leaves,
Taking them in our hands,
We sigh over the green ones,
Leaving them on the branches;
And that is my only regret--
For me, the autumn hills!

17-18: Princess Nukada

O That sweet mountain of Miwa--
I would go lingering over its sight,
Many times looking back from far upon it
Till it is hidden beyond the hills of Nara
And beyond many turnings of the road;
Then should the clouds be heartless
And conceal the mountain from me? Must they veil Mount Miwa so?
Even clouds might have compassion;
Should ye, O clouds,conceal it from me?

24: Prince Omi

Clinging to this transient life
I live on the seaweed,
Which I, drenched with the waves,
Gather at the isle of Irago.

28: Empress Jito

Spring has passed away
And summer is come;
Look where white clothes are spread in the sun
On the heavenly hill of Kagu!

52-53: Anonymous

Our great Sovereign who rules in peace,
Offspring of the Bright One on high,
Has begun to build her Palace
On the plain of Fuji;
And standing on the dyke of Lake Haniyasu
She looks around her:
The green hill of Kagu of Yamato
Stands at the eastern gate,
A luxuriant spring-time hill;
Unebi, with its fragrant slopes,
Rises at the western gate,
Ever fresh and flourishing
Its form divine;
And the mountains of Yoshinu, of lovely name,
Soar into the sky,
Far from the southern gate
At this towering Palace,
The shelter from the sun,
The shelter from the sky,
The waters will be everlasting,
These clear waters of the sacred well! The bevies of maidens who will be born
And come in succession into service
At the mightly Palace of Fujiwara,
How I envy their happy lot!

63: Yamanoe Okura

Come, my men, let us hasten to Yamato!
The shore pines on Mitsu of Otomo
Must wait and long for us.

79-80: Anonymous

Obedient to our mighty Sovereign's word,
I left my long-loved home,
And paddled my boat down the Hatsuse,
Many times looking back toward my home,
At each of the eighty windings of the river;
And benighted on the stream I reached
The River Saho flowing through Nara;
There from my couch I could see,
Clearly in the bright moonlight of dawn,
The night-frost lying like a sheet of linen
And the river bound with ice as if with rocks.
Often on such a freezing night, loyal to my duties,
I paddled down to build the mansion,
Where I hope my lord will live
For a thousand ages,
And that I too may journey here for as long. I shall come to the mansion of Nara
For a myriad ages;
Think not I shall forget!

Book II

85-88: Empress lwa-no-hime

Since you, my Lord, were gone,
Many long, long days have passed.
Should I now come to meet you
And seek you beyond the mountains,
Or still await you--await you ever ?
Rather would I lay me down
On a steep hill's side,
And, with a rock for pillow, die,
Than live thus, my Lord,
With longing so deep for you.
Yes, I will live on
And wait for you,
Even till falls
On my long black wav1ng hair
The hoar frost of age.
How shall my yearning ever cease—
Fade somewhere away,
As does the mist of morning
Shimmering across the autumn field
Over the ripening grain?

95: Fujiwara Kamatari

Oh, Yasumiko I have won!
Mine is she whom all men,
They say, have sought in vain.
Yasumiko I have won!

103: Emperor Temmu

Magnificent snow
Has fallen here at my place.
But at your tumble-down old village of Ohara,
If ever, later it will fall

104: Lady Fujiwara

It was I who did command
The Dragon God of these hills
To send down the snow,
Whereof a few fragments, perchance,
Were sprinkled over your home.

105-106: Princess Oku

To speed my brother
Parting for Yamato,
In the deep of night I stood
Till wet with the dew of dawn.
The lonely autumn mountains
Are hard to pass over
Even when two go together--
How does my brother cross them all alone!

107: Prince Otsu

Waiting for you,
In the dripping dew of the hill
I stood,--weary and wet
With the dripping dew of the hill

108: Lady Ishikawa

Would I had been, beloved,
The dripping dew of the hill,
That wetted you
While for me you waited.

131-133: Kakinomoto Hitomaro

Along the coast of Tsunu
On the sea of Iwami
One may find no sheltering bay,
One may find no sequestered lagoon.
O well if there be no bay!
O well if there be no lagoon!
Upon Watazu's rocky strand,
Where I travel by the whale-haunted sea,
The wind blows in the morning,
And the waves wash at eve
The sleek sea-tangle and the ocean weed,
All limpid green.
Like the sea-tangle, swaying in the wave
Hither and thither, my wife would cling to me,
As she lay by my side.
Now I have left her, and journey on my way,
I look back a myriad times
At each turn of the road.
Farther and farther my home falls behind,
Steeper and steeper the mountains I have crossed.
My wife must be languishing
Like drooping summer grass.
I would see where she dwells—
Bend down, O mountains! From between the trees that grow
On Takatsunu's mountain-side
In the land of Iwami
I waved my sleeve to her--
Did she see me, my dear wife?
The leaves of bamboo grass
Fill all the hill-side
With loud rustling sounds;
But I think only of my love,
Having left her behind.
In the sea of Iwami,
By the cape of Kara,
There amid the stones under sea
Grows the deep-sea miru weed;
There along the rocky strand
Grows the sleek sea-tangle.
Like the swaying sea-tangle,
Unresisting would she lie beside me--
My wife whom I love with a love
Deep as the miru-growing ocean.
But few are the nights
We two have lain together.
Away I have come, parting from her
Even as the creeping vines do part.
My heart aches within me;
I turn back to gaze--
But because of the yellow leaves
Of Watari Hill,
Flying and fluttering in the air,
I cannot see plainly
My wife waving her sleeve to me.
Now as the moon, sailing through the cloud rift
Above the mountain of Yakami,
Disappears, leaving me full of regret,
So vanishes my love out of sight;
Now sinks at last the sun,
Coursing down the western sky.
I thought myself a strong man,
But the sleeves of my garment
Are wetted through with tears.
My black steed
Galloping fast,
A way have I come,
My black steed
Galloping fast,
Away have I come,
Leaving under distant skies
The dwelling-place of my love.
Oh, yellow leaves
Falling on the autumn hill,
Cease a while
To fly and flutter in the air
That I may see my love's dwelling-place

141-142: Prince Arima

At Iwashiro I bind
The branches of a shore pine.
If fortune favours me,
I may come back
And see the knot again.
Now that I journey, grass for pillow,
They serve rice on the shii leaves,
Rice they would put in a bowl,
Were I at home!

147: Empress Yamato-hime

I turn and gaze far
Towards the heavenly plains.
Lo, blest is my Sovereign Lord--
His long life overspans
The vast blue firmament.

148: Empress Yamato-hime

Though my eyes could see your spirit soar
Above the hills of green-bannered Kohata,
No more may I meet you face to face.

149: Empress Yamato-hime

Others may cease to remember,
But I cannot forget you—
Your beauteous phantom shape
Ever haunts my sight!

177: Anonymous

On the hill slope of Sada
Bright in the morning sun,
We gather and weep;
Our tears fall endlessly.

194-95: Kakinomoto Hitomaro

Dainty water-weeds, growing up-stream
In the river of the bird-flying Asuka,
Drift down-stream, gracefully swaying.
Like the water-weeds the two would bend
Each toward the other, the princess and her consort.
But now no longer can she sleep,
With his fine smooth body clinging
Close to hers like a guardian sword.
Desolate must be her couch at night.
Unable to assuage her grief,
But in the hope of finding him by chance,
She journeys to the wide plain of Ochinu,
There, her skirt drenched with morning dew
And her coat soaked with the fog of evening,
She passes the night-- a wayfarer with grass for pillow--
Because of him whom she nevermore will meet! Her lord and husband with whom she had slept,
The sleeves of their robes overlapping,
Has passed away to the plain of Ochinu.
How can she ever meet him again!

Book IV

485-487: Empress Kogyoku

From the age of the gods
Men have been begotten and begetting;
They overflow this land of ours.
I see them go hither and thither
Like flights of teal-
But not you whom I love.
So I yearn each day till the day is over,
And each night till the dawn breaks;
Sleeplessly I pass this long, long night Though men go in noisy multitudes
Like flights of teal over the mountain edge,
To me-oh what loneliness,
Since you are absent whom I love.
By the Toko Mountain in Omi
There flows the Isaya, River of Doubt.
I doubt whether now-a-days
You, too, still think of me?

489: Princess Kagami

Even a breeze may fail me
When I desire it.
Little I should grieve,
If only, sure of its coming,
I could await even a breeze.

496-497: Kakinomoto Hitomaro

Though my thoughts of her
Grow a hundredfold in my heart
Like the leaves of the crinum
On the sea-coast of Kumanu
I do not meet her face to face.

Did men living long ago
Pass also sleepless nights like me,
Longing for their beloved?

500: Wife of Go Dan-ochi

Breaking and spreading for a bed
The shore reeds of Ise of the Divine Wind,
Does he, my husband, sleep a traveller's sleep--
On that lonely rugged sea-coast?

506: Lady Abe

Think not of things, my beloved!
Have you not me--who would go,
If need be, through fire and flood for you?

514: Lady Abe

My very soul, it seems,
Has stolen into every stitch
Of the robe you wear.

521: A Young Woman of Hitachi

Forget not, I pray, your Eastland girl
Who will be thinking of you always,
As she cuts the hemp-stalks standing in the yard
And spreads them out to dry.

532: Otomo Sukunamaro

She goes to the sun-bright palace;
Yet so dear to me is the maiden,
It is heart-ache to keep her,
But despair to let her go.

549: Anonymous

My friend, you are setting out
On a long, long journey--
May the gods of heaven and earth
Help you till you reach your home!

557: Hanishi Mitoshi

As we go fast, rowing the huge ship,
Should she hit the rocks and overturn--
Oh, let her overturn! I shall not mind
Since it is for my dear wife's sake.

559-560: Otomo Momoyo

I have lived my life
In peace and quiet-
Ah, that I should encounter
Now in my declining years
Love such as this!

When I shall have died of love—
What can avail me then?
I crave again to see you
While I live, dear lady.

571: Otomo Yotsuna

Beautiful is the moon-lit night,
And clear the voice of the river.
Here let all of us make merry—
You who go and we who remain!

573: Manzei

Even after my locks,
Black as the berries of pardanthus,
Have all turned white,
There comes a time when I must nurse
Heart-aching love, alas!

574: Otomo Tabito

Here in the capital I wonder
Where may be your land of Tsukushi--
It must lie, alas! my friend,
Far beyond the mountains
Where white clouds hover.

594: Lady Kasa

In the loneliness of my heart
I feel as if I should perish
Like the pale dew-drop
Upon the grass of my garden
In the gathering shades of twilight.

596: Lady Kasa

Even the sands uncounted of a long beach
That takes eight hundred days to travel—
Could they at all outnumber
My thoughts of love,
O guardian of the isle on the sea?

600: Lady Kasa

Oh how steadily I love you--
You who awe me
Like the thunderous waves
That lash the sea-coast of Ise!

602-605: Lady Kasa

More sad thoughts crowd into my mind
When evening comes; for then
Appears your phantom shape--
Speaking as I have known you speak.

IF it were death to love,
I should have died--
And died again
One thousand times over.

I dreamed I was holding
A double-edged sword close to my body--
What does it foretell? It tells
That I shall meet you soon.

IF the gods of heaven and earth
Were bereft of reason,
I might die
Without seeing you
Whom I love so well.

607-608: Lady Kasa

The bells are tolling,
Bidding all to rest.
But you being for ever on my mind,
I cannot sleep.

To love you who love me not
Is like going to a great temple
To bow in adoration
Behind the back of the famished devil.

632: Prince Yuhara

What can I do with you--
You who so resemble
The lautel in the moon
That I see with my eyes
But cannot touch with my hands?

650: Otomo Miyori

You seem to have lived, my lady,
In the Land of Eternity.
You have grown younger
Than when so many years ago
I saw you last.

670: Prince Yuhara

By the light of the Moon God
Come to me, dear heart!
No mountain walls divide us—
The way is not long.

671: Anonymous

Though clear and bright
The Moon God lights the way,
So blind am I with love,
I feel I cannot reach you.

709: Oyakeme

In the twilight darkness
Indistinguishable is the road.
Wait till the moon-rise, and go,
That I may see you, my dearest,
Even for that while!

710: Ato Tobira

Once--only once,
I saw him in the light
Of the sky-wandering moon;
Now I see him in my dreams.

711: Taniha Ome

Here where the wild ducks
Sport in the pond,
The leaves fall from the trees
And float-but no floating heart
Have I who love you true.

718-719: Otomo Yakamochi

Having seen your smile
In a dream by chance,
I keep now burning in my heart
Love's inextinguishable flame.

How I waste and waste away
With love forlorn--
I who have thought myself
A strong man!

722: Otomo Yakamochi

Rather than that I should thus pine
for you,
Would I had been transmuted
Into a tree or a stone,
Nevermore to feel the pangs of love.

728: Otomo Yakamochi

Would there were a land
Uninhabited by man!
Thither I'd take my love,
And happily we twain would live.

731: Lady Otomo of Sakanoe's Elder Daughter

What do I care if my name
Be on the tongues
Of five hundred, or a thousand, men!
Only should your name get abroad
I would regret it and weep.

741: Otomo Yakamochi

What pain and distress
A dream tryst brings!
I start and wake,
And grope in vain for you,
Beyond the reach of my hand.


1418: Prince Shiki

Above the cascade tumbling down the rocks
The bracken sprouts and burgeons on the hill—
Ah, the happy spring is come!

1424: Yamabe Akahito

Forth to the field of spring
I went to gather violets--
Enamoured of the field
I slept there all night through.

1427: Yamabe Akahito

It snowed yesterday--
And to-day it snows
On the meadow I have marked
For gathering spring herbs to-morrow.

1435: Prince Atsumi

Mirrored in the waters of the
Kamunabi River,
Where the song-frogs call,
Do they bloom now—
those flowers of the yellow

1442: Tajihi Yanushi

Her husband is gone towards Naniwa;
Pity it is to see a young wife,
Left gathering spring herbs!

1453-1455: Kasa Kanamura

You who are constantly on my mind,
And dear to me as the breath of life—
You depart in obedience to the imperial command,
From the cape of Mitsu in Naniwa Bay,
Where in the evening the cranes call to their mates.
You will board a great ship, full-oared,
And sail away past many an island
On the ocean of high white waves.
Then, I, who remain, will see you go,
Making offerings and prayers to the gods.
Come back soon, O friend ! Beyond the waves in the clouds
Is lost a small island--
Even so, when you are gone,
Oh, the choking grief!
Would I could be
The shaft of your ship's oar
Rather than thus remain
Disconsolate even unto death!

1456: Fujiwara Hirotsugu

Slight not these flowers!
Each single petal contains
A hundred words of mine.

1457: Young Lady

Were these flowers broken off,
Unable to hold in each petal
A hundred words of yours?

1460: Lady Ki

Pour your sake, O slave,
I plucked with busy hands
These sedge-buds from the spring meadow.
Eat them and grow fat!

1461: Lady Ki

The silk-tree that blooms in daytime
And sleeps the love-sleep at night,
Your lady should not see alone--
Look on this well, my slave!

1479: Otomo Yakamochi

Tired of sitting indoors all day long,
I seek the garden for solace, only to hear
The shrill chirps of the cicadas.

1491: Otomo Yakamochi

In the leafy tree-tops
Of the summer mountain
The cuckoo calls--
Oh, how far off his echoing voice!

1500: Lady Otomo of Sakanoe

Oh, the pain of my love that you
know not--
A love like the maiden-lily
Blooming in the thicket of the summer moor!

1552: Prince Yuhara

The evening moon shines-
Here in the garden white with dew
The crickets sing, alas!
Burthening my weary heart.

1622: Lady Otomo of Tamura

At home the hagi flowers of autumn
Are abloom in the evening glow—
Would that this moment
I could see your radiant form!

1656: Lady Otomo of Sakanoe

After we, dear friends, have drunk
Setting plum-blossoms afloat in our wine-cups,
I care not if those on the tree be gone.

1657: Anonymous

The law allows our feasting;
Are we to drink the wine this one night only?
Do not fall, O blossoms, fall not away!

1658: Empress Komyo

How gladdening would be this falling snow,
Could I but watch with you, my husband!

The above poems are quoted from their respective pages in The Manyoshu: The Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkokai translation of One Thousand Poems