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季語 kigo seasonal words - Within the poem, at least one word or phrase should symbolize one of the four seasons.
切れ字 kireji cutting words - These are small words that often function as a placeholder so the verse has the right number of moras. They also function to give a certain emotional or sentimental flavor to the poem.
うめが香に のっと日の出る 山路かな。
With Fragrant plum blossoms | the sun is peeking out | on this mountain trail
- うめが香 scent of plum flowers [うめ (Japanese apricot); が (archaic and literary for の (‘s)); 香 (fragrance; scent; smell) is literary for 香り]
- に for; by; with (the scent of plum flowers)
- のっと [onomatopoeia which is describing the way the sun is suddenly peeking itself out; not used commonly. にょっきり(と) would be the word for it in today’s Japanese, which sounds very casual; the use of のっと is very whimsical here; it’s possible Bashou is also thinking of 「祝詞」 which is also pronounced のっと. 祝詞 is a Shinto ritual prayer. If so, it is a mixture of the whimsical and the sublime.]
- 日の出る (a mountain trail where) the sun is peeking out / coming out
- 山路 a mountain trail [山 (mountain); 路 (path; road)]
- かな [archaic copula that adds emphasis and also ends the poem with a nuance of "wonder" or "awe". Often comes at the end, after a noun; can be used for self-speech (I wonder …)]
While walking on a mountain trail, as if being enticed by the scent of plum flowers, the sun came out above the mountain all of the sudden.
- 朝早く early in the morning [朝 (morning); 早く adverbial form of 早い (early)]
- 山道 mountain trail; mountain path
- 歩いていると while (I) was walking; when (I) was walking [歩いて te-form of 歩く (to walk); いる here indicates continuing action: “~ing”; と (when; while; if ~; upon ~) which always follows a verb in the dictionary form]
- 梅の香り fragrance of plum flower [梅 (plum); 香り (fragrance; scent; aroma; smell)]
- に誘われた was enticed; was lured [に (by); 誘われた from 誘われる (to be invited; to be enticed; to be seduced; to be lured), which is passive of 誘う (to invite; to induce; to invoke)]
- かのように as if ~ [か indicates “uncertainty” or “vagueness” about the preceding phrase; ~ のよう (like ~; similar to ~; as if ~); に here serves just like “-ly” suffix in English.; note: the original meaning of よう is “way” or “condition”, but it means “like-ness” or “similar-ness” which acts like na-adjective]
- 山の向こうから over the mountain; beyond the mountain [山 (mountain); (の)向こう (beyond ~; the other side (of) ~); から (from)]
- 急に all of the sudden; suddenly; unexpectedly
- 朝日 morning sun
- 現れました appeared [from 現れる (to appear; to become visible)]
This verse was written at the end of Bashou’s life. It is early spring (the blossoming ume is the season word) while it is still quite cold. But the promise of the ume flowers and the sudden appearance of the sun gives us hope the (mountain) path will be welcoming.
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