“The Pledge” by Ukon

Ukon was a Japanese poet of the Heian period, active toward the end of the 10th century, named one of the Nyōbō Sanjūrokkasen or 36 Female Immortals of Poetry. She was a lady-in-waiting of Empress Onshi. The following poem is number 38 in the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, a classical Japanese anthology of one hundred Japanese waka by one hundred poets.

Though I’m forgotten
My concern’s not for myself.
He pledged me his heart
Before heaven. Now his life—
It will be ruined, won’t it?

—Translated by David Bowles
March 17, 2014

Original Japanese

wasuraruru
mi woba omowazu
chikahite-shi
hito no inochi no
oshiku mo aru kana

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