New Jewel Moon

The new jewel moon
A black pearl at noon
Switching clothes today
Sovereign’s word obey
Sugawara no Tokihira

Liner notes:

This poem was composed in honor of Squire’s Tourney, at which Their Excellencies Odo and Dulcinea stepped down from the Baronial Seat of Northwoods, and Their Excellencies Max and Gwenllyen were invested as the new Baron and Baroness. There is some dual symbology in this poem, though not as many layers as I sometimes strive for. ‘New jewel’ is a makurakotoba (‘pillow-word’) for moon, and refers to the new moon. A new moon, if it could actually be seen at mid-day, would look like a black pearl, but pearls on a coronet are the traditional symbol of a baron or baroness – the investiture itself took place at about noon. The event actually occurred the day after the new moon marking the beginning the fourth month, which is the traditional day to switch to summer clothing, in which many of the layers are unlined (there is also a short period of time in the height of summer when the number of layers was greatly reduced). The final line reflects a common refrain found in period poetry, in which regional governors (the equivalent of landed barons) would speak of being ‘obedient to the sovereign’s word’ as they left the capitol to their new assignments (eg. poems 297 and 1785 of the Man’yoshu). Those familiar with the history of Squire’s will catch an added layer, as it used to be called Squire’s Revolt. The choice of form is a nod to the former Baron and Baroness, who noted that they had served for 5 years, 5 months, and 5 days – and 5-5-5 was a theme throughout the event.

The form is jueju, Chinese in origin with the 5-5-5-5 pattern of syllables known as wujue (strictly speaking, this should have both a rhyming and inflection pattern, the inflection pattern being impossible to duplicate in English).  Event held 2nd day of 4th month, AS XLVIII. This poem was composed for the Pentamere Pilgrimage Challenge, the seventh poem in the series; in addition, Calum has written an amusing take on his experiences at an event.


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