|Nichiren going into exile on the island of Sado - Utagawa Kuniyoshi|
The previous post on astronomical imagery, prompted the topic for this one.
ara-umi ya / sado ni yokotau /amanogawa# 559 JR (but note she appears to have mistakenly placed this poem in summer 1689, whereas the reference to amanogawa - the Milky Way (Heaven's river) is generally an autumn seasonal reference)
cf # 409 BH - DLB
How wild the sea is,
and over Sado Island
the River of Heaven
stretching out over Sado,
"Basho was standing on the western shores of Japan looking out upon the night sea. He was pausing on his long journey to the "deep north" of Japan, and he could hear the crashing of the waves. Miles beyond lay Sado Island. Sado was known as a place of riches, where gold was being mined. But even more it was known as a place where numerous people, including the Emperor Juntoku, the Buddhist leader Nichiren, and the great medieval No dramatist Zeami, had endured the endorsed solitude of exile. The poem begins with an exclamation of the violence and vastness of the water, the cutting word ya functioning somewhat like an exclamation point. then our consciousness is brought to a focus on the melancholy island, small in the cold sweep of ocean. The island lies in contrast to the ocean that surrounds it, yet it harbors centuries of the emotional storm of exile. Then our consciousness is pulled up and out across the sky, as Heaven's River (the Milky Way) reaches from horizon to horizon. As a metaphorical river, it flows in eternal tranquility above the storms of the sea and of human life, sparkling with a scattered brightness more pure than gold. Basho, the island, and everything on earth seem to be alone yet together under the stream of stars. Over the storm is silence; above the movement is a stillness that somehow suggests the flow of a river and of time; and piercing the darkness is the shimmering but faint light of stars."
|Ono-game rock on Sado Island|
which show something of the significance of Sado Island to the Japanese. Indeed, it encouraged me to try my own translation, trying to capture more of the "backstory":
The sea is rough, but
over all, even Sado,
flows Heaven's River
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