Additional Information

Notes and translation by Dr. Kendra Strand, reproduced with kind permission.

よひよひに

枕さだめむ

かたもなし

いかに寝し夜か

夢に見えけむ

Night after night, I decide
I shall arrange my pillow thus,
but to no avail!
I wonder-- that night, when I slept,
how was it that I saw you in my dream?

This traditional Japanese poem, or waka, is composed of 31 syllables in five lines (5-7-5-7-7).
It appears in the Kokinshû (A Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern), a poetic anthology
from 905 that includes both new and old poems of its time. Although the poem is brief, its
language is complex in its ambiguity. The phrase “night after night” (yoiyoi ni) lends a sense
of endless repetition and of time passing. It is as though the poet declares “I’ll arrange my pillow thus” (makura sadamemu) every night before sleeping, only to awake disappointed every morning, crying, “But there’s no way for it!” (kata mo nashi). The poet, who could be either a man or a woman, has in mind one specific dream (yume) of a lover that he or she desperately wishes to see again.

But thinking of “dreams” as plural paints a picture of the poet caught up in this desire during waking hours, and of spending sleepless nights in thought. Finally, the conceit of seeing a lover in a dream was often used to refer to an actual midnight rendezvous, which, like a beautiful dream, is so precious that it is over too quickly, and haunts the lovers with its memory. 

Details

Year:
2014
View Score
Recordings:
Minutes:
11
Total Number of Instruments:
3

Instrumentation

Bass clarinet
1
Bass flute
1
Electronics
1

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Makura Sadamemu