Friday, August 05, 2011

classic poem and photo: the diary of murasaki shikibu

Painting: Sweet Flowers Soaring High by Lea Prince

"I can see the garden from my room beside the entrance to the gallery. The air is misty, the dew is still on the leaves. The Lord Prime Minister is walking there; he orders his men to cleanse the brook. He breaks off a stalk of omenaishi [flower maiden] which is in full bloom by the south end of the bridge. He peeps in over my screen! His noble appearance embarrasses us, and I am ashamed of my morning [not yet painted and powdered] face. He says, "Your poem on this! If you delay so much the fun is gone!"  and I seize the chance to run away to the writing-box, hiding my face–

Flower-maiden in bloom–

Even more beautiful for the bright dew,

Which is partial, and never favors me.

"So prompt!" said he, smiling, and ordered a writing-box to be brought [for himself].

His answer:

The silver dew is never partial.

From her heart

The flower-maiden's beauty. "

From 'The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu'. Shikibu was a lady of the Japanese court during A.D. 1007-1010.

The entire diary can be found here.

Reading this diary several years ago, I was fascinated by the diarist's world, and was delighted to discover an early woman poet!

Lea Prince's paintings have been exhibited at Ilford Central Library and at the Valentine's Mansion, Gantshill.

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