岩くらの狂女恋せよほととぎす

  • Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    The text reads 岩くらの狂女恋せよほととぎす, and it is a haiku by 与謝蕪村 (Yosa Buson; 蕪村 in the image), who lived in the 18th century.

    A haiku cannot be translated without any subjective interpretation, but it means something like this: Crazed woman in Iwakura, fall in love! A hototogisu sings here.

    It certainly needs a lot of comments to understand. First, 岩倉 (Iwakura; 岩くら in the image) was a village in the outskirts of Kyoto. For a long time, the rural life there was the attraction for relocation therapy of the "crazed." I don't know what this highly sensitive word of old would mean in more exact therapeutic terms, but people were said to go crazy when they broke up with their love, or when they, especially women, were bereaved by their children. Being crazy in this context would probably include depression and hysteria.

    Second, 狂女 is a "crazed woman." In traditional literature, she is a figure that tends to lose sanity in a flashback experience, triggered by something that reminds her of her lost love or child. Third, a hototogisu is a Japanese bird that a few dictioaries translate into "lesser cuckoo." This bird is known for its beautiful singing voice, and is often the metaphor of nature or romance.

    Al in all, this haiku seems to be a blessing for Iwakura for its salubrious rural life, but I find it not without mediaeval cruelty.
     
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