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.

1 Answer 1


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. Commented Jan 19, 2013 at 1:59

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