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A Hundred Verses from Old Japan (The Hyakunin-isshu), tr. by William N. Porter, [1909], at

p. 60




  Ohoye yama
Ikuno no michi no
Mada fumi mo mizu

SO long and dreary is the road,
  That I have never been
To Ama-no-Hashidate;
  Pray, how could I have seen
  The verses that you mean?

Koshikibu was the daughter of the writer of verse No. 56, and early became known as a poetess. The story goes, that she was suspected of getting help from her mother in composing poetry; and on one occasion, during the absence of the latter at Ama-no-Hashidate, she was selected to take part in a poetical contest at Court. A day or two before the event a nobleman laughingly asked her, if she was not expecting a letter from her mother, hinting that she would otherwise be unable to produce a poem good enough for the contest, and she, touching his sleeve, improvised the above verse. The original brings in not only Ama-no-Hashidate, a picturesque bay in the Province of Tango, but also two other proper names, Mount Ohoye and Ikuno, which are on the road there from Kyōto; but this the translation fails to do.

The last couplet can mean 'I have not walked to or seen Ama-no-Hashidate ', and also, 'I have not seen any letter from Ama-no-Hashidate.'

Next: 61. The Lady Ise: Ise no Taiu