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I stay here waiting for him in the autumn wind, my sash untied, wondering, is he coming now, is he coming now? And the moon is low in the sky.
Otomo Yakamochi [Volume 20, 4311]
This is recorded as a poem by Yakamochi, a male poet, but in it a woman is waiting for her lover. What is going on here? In fact, this is one of eight poems by Yakamochi "as he sat alone gazing up at the Milky Way," and is a Tanabata poem. In the ancient lunar calendar, autumn began after the seventh month. For this reason Tanabatagreeting the start of the fall seasonbecame the most popular festival in Japan. And the fact that the herd boy star and the weaver girl star were only allowed to meet once a year enormously stimulated the romantic imagination of the ancients.
Thus, here Yakamochi assumed the emotions of the weaver girl and composed a poem about her "long wait." Ancient lovers, upon parting after an encounter, would tie together the sashes of their underrobes, and pledge not to untie them until they met again. Here the woman, unable to wait any longer, herself untied the sashes, her yearning so intense, but still...