I tried writing a classical Japanese poem:


And here is a rough literal translation:

The red sky,
The origin that was once blue,
Like seeing a dream,
It would be best to turn back,
If it were not dirtied.

(Unfortunately missing all the word play and ambiguity I was trying to insert into the Japanese version.)

I'm pretty unsure if I conjugated everything correctly there. I'm especially worried about 汚さざらまし, which I'm not sure if is even a valid construction. 汚す(未然形)+ず(未然形)+まし is what I was trying to do, to say "if it were not dirtied".

I'm basically just doing this to learn a little more about classical Japanese grammar, so any corrections are welcome.


Interesting poem. Let me add a few quick comments.

  • 青かりたり根: As is, 青かりたり is 終止形, so the sentence comes to a complete stop there; the next sentence begins with 根. More likely you want the attributive (連体形) 青かりたる.
  • 青かりたり根: Rather than たり, you may want to consider き. It is a recollational past, so the poet would be speaking from memory. In attributive, this becomes し.
  • 夢がごとし: The English translation does not match, or is at least vague. This is a conclusive form (終止形), so the sentence comes to a complete stop. "They (the sky and origin) are like a dream." This may be your intention and it works. Other options are to make it adverbial (連用形) ごとく, but then it becomes more vague like the English.
  • 元を返るべし: This is fine, but you could consider changing it to べきや, which softens the sense as well as adds a sense of question to oneself.
  • 汚さざらまし: This is fine. You could optionally emphasis this by adding を to the end.
  • Awesome, thanks! Some of my phrasing choices were due to trying to fit 5-7-5-7-7, but I now realized I screwed up on line 4 (which is thankfully fixable by just dropping that を) anyways. Jan 19 '13 at 1:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.