Seventh Day First Month

Seventh day first month
Butterflies open new wings
The red plum blossoms
Parade by His Majesty
What, my name called? I need air!Sugawara no Tokihira


Liner notes:

This poem is about the receipt of my Award of Arms at St Valentines Day Feast and Massacre, the basic entry-level award (in my case awarded after more than 15 years in the SCA).  The seventh day of the first month is one of two days each year when the Emperor gave out rank promotions and new assignments.  Since the Heian calendar is lunisolar, New Years Day shifts from year to year, within a couple weeks each side of of February 4th (which is the beginning of spring, though that moves slightly just as it does in the western calendar).  Thus, Val Day will normally fall close to the seventh day of the first month (this year, it was on the ninth day).  As it is an event at which many awards are given out, it makes sense to call it seventh day first month.  Butterflies signify early spring, and also refer to the fact that persons elevated to new ranks often must change the color of their robes.  In particular, very high ranks are allowed to wear robes the color of red plum blossoms.  The plum is also associated with Sugawara no Michizane, part of the persona model.  The last line refers to how, immediately following the elevation of a new peer, I was called up to receive my AOA, but was so weak from the heat and lack of food that I had to step outside briefly to avoid fainting.  (In fact, the peer mentioned fainted during the elevation ceremony).

The form is waka, Japanese in origin with a 5-7-5-7-7 pattern of syllables.

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Posted in Poetry. 1 Comment »

One Response to “Seventh Day First Month”

  1. Sugawara no Tokihira Says:

    Something I should note: notice the use of the word “blossoms.” It is acting as a pivot word. It can be read as a verb, which makes the third line complete, or as a noun, which leads into the fourth line. Japanese language lends itself to this kind of word play, and clever turns of phrase with multiple readings were considered to be what separated good poetry from mundane.

    For those familiar with Kenshin, an alternate version of the last line is “Oro? This one? I need air!”


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