A Hundred Verses from Old Japan (The Hyakunin-isshu), tr. by William N. Porter, , at sacred-texts.com
WE met but for a moment, and
I'm wretched as before;
The tide shall measure out my life,
Unless I see once more
The maid, whom I adore.
The composer of this verse was the son of the Emperor Yōzei, who reigned A.D. 877-884; he was noted for his love-affairs, and he died in the year 943.
Mi wo tsukushite mo means 'even though I die in the attempt', but miotsukushi is a graduated stick, set up to measure the rise and fall of the tide; and Naniwa, the modern seaport of Osaka, seems to have been inserted chiefly as the place where this tide-gauge was set up. The poet may have meant, that the river of his tears was so deep as to require a gauge to measure it; or, as Professor MacCauley reads it, he was hinting, that if he could not attain his ends his body would be found at the tide-gauge in Naniwa Bay. The picture seems to show the poet on the verandah and his lady-love looking through the screen.