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cherry blossom epiphany



Note that it is no mistake that the poet called plum-elder (Baiou) is identified as Souin,
for it was one of his common pen names. Unfortunately, there was another later, less famous poet
by that same name. It is possible that I have robbed the less famous man, which is a grievous sin to be sure,
but chances are that i am correct to credit the better known head of the Danrin school of poetry
for Shiki's Categorical haiku collection favors older haiku.

On the other hand, right where I caught a well known and highly respected translator's miss respecting the place
where a cherry tree was dug up (the mistake by the other was not mentioned, for i try to be polite,
(as i hope, scholars, you will be to me), i got too rosy about the gills and may have forgotten
to change Hachiheibei  the nursery-man  to Hachibei, as i should have.

There must be hundreds of wee errors out there and i can only pray i have made few large ones.
As always, i am more troubled by my circumstances not permitting careful editing.
Here, for example,  is a revised version of the Epiphany page:


pg 9    onitsura's in/famous haiku about dressed up skeletons blossom-viewing in four translations comes here

This is one of the best-known hanami, i.e. (cherry) blossom-viewing haiku. It boasts countless translations (we shall see some later). The Japanese can be read in the first-person, or any other person, as per the other three readings.  Such ambiguity is not unknown to English, for the pronoun “you” can be singular, plural, the other or any person, including the poet; but Japanese, due to an accident of language (as explained in my book Orientalism & Occidentalism), generally does not use pronouns and, having no conjugations for number, can boast more delightfully person-free poetry than English.  As we are not concerned about what a particular “you” refers to, Japanese are not aware of that ambiguity until they see it in translation and wonder at the aptness of this or that choice.  In a longer narrative, such apparent ambiguity rarely offers choices of interpretation, for context decides.  With short poems that lack a determining context, there is no way to tell for sure the person of the subject.  As a rule of thumb, haiku is first-person and senryű third-person, but I have read too many haiku with no subject that obviously fit other persons to religiously obey the “rule” in translation.  Moreover, the ambiguity that permits multiple readings is precisely what allows the Japanese haiku to be so full of meaning. This poses an interesting problem for philosophical linguistics as it is generally argued that the more possibilities ruled out the more something means; yet, here, we find that the opposite is also true.  Style-wise, ambiguity permits a ku to be at once a simple personal observation and a generality (for which some Japanese critics detest this poem, as we shall see in chapter 36).

and two more translations go here.


Compare the above to what is in your book. A list of serious errors will be made after I learn of them.
Readers will be delighted to know that most of this book has been spell-checked.
The difficulty arises because MS-Word has no way to rule out italicized words, so all
the Romanized Japanese is treated as errors and that shuts off the spelling check!
Of course, the spelling check is itself illiterate and leads me to believe that
the richest man in the world has no interest whatsoever in literacy.

please enjoy my errors!


pg 444  ku# 49-5  

chie sakaba monju to ya iwan fugenzou = call it a stupa! / a thousand fold = wisdom blooms . . .

While stupa may be full of sacred words as well as the usual relics, monju is not a stupa but the god of wisdom, Manjushiri.  I was so eager to spout off on stupa that I failed to recheck the possibility (which turned out not to be) of monju meaning stupa backwards from stupa. My large English-Japanese dictionary is torn apart in five parts and the ST pages are among those missing at the edges so my first attempt to check failed. I vaguely recall planning to come back to it and then . . .This mistranslation was found by William S. Wilson, whose books and translations on and of the arts, martial and thesbian, are highly recommended.  Find my mistakes and I will mention your books here! (Actually, Bill’s translations are always in good taste if not elegant and his substantial introductions both artful and heartfelt.)  The pun on a thousand-fold and wisdom is still untranslatable.  Tentative trans.: Were its bloom thick / as brain this elephant would be / the god of wisdom.