This is my first question on this site, so excuse me if I make any mistake.

I found this phrase in a text which uses pre-WW2 grammar (so I'm not entirely sure if it's [生き乍らへて]{いきながらへて} or 生き乍らて due to historical kana usage). I've searched in dictionaries but I haven't been able to find anything with these specific kanji. I found 生き長らえて (to live long) though, but I don't know whether it's the same thing (and it doesn't seem to fit in this text either).

生き obviously means "to live", and 乍ら is just the old ながら used to mean that something is being done at the same time another action is being performed. But it doesn't seem to make sense here. I provide the original and a version with modern kana usage (only those lines that actually use the historical usage).

I will be very thankful if somebody could shine some light about the meaning of this word in the text.

I saw the village being destroyed

吸ひ込むやうな月に濡れ -> 吸い込むような月に濡れ
It looked completely soaked up, wet due to the moon
Alt (less literal): "It looked bathed in light, wet with the moonlight".

私は其れを潰れた箱らに入れてゐた -> 私は其れを潰れた箱らに入れていた
I put that inside the crushed boxes

While [they] were alive???

Although I've came to know that only now

I saw the village breaking

Soaked in heavy red dew

朽ちぬと共に探してゐた -> 朽ちないと共に探していた
I looked for him along those that weren't rotten

其れでも、其れでも見つからぬ -> 其れでも、其れでも見つからない
But so, even so I couldn't find [him].

I saw the village die

It still hasn't left my mind not even once

未だ、疼いてゐる -> 未だ、疼いている
It still hurts me.

It has burned completely

My fingers, my box, inside the smoke

Ah, that person

Once more

I ought to meet.
  • 2
    今に其れを知る私はばかり: isn't this a typo for 知るは私ばかり?
    – naruto
    Feb 16, 2017 at 4:52

1 Answer 1


It must be just 生きながらえる which means to survive (e.g. a disaster) and live for a long time. Kanji usages were not very standardized pre-war, so you may find odd kanji usages by today's standards in old documents.

-> 生きながらえて、今それを知っているのは私ばかりだ
I am the only one who has survived and still knows that.

(I'm assuming 其れを知る私はばかり is a typo for 其れを知るは私ばかり because 憚る doesn't make sense here. In classical Japanese, so-called nominalizers were not necessary and the attributive form (連体形) of a verb worked just like nouns.)

  • I see. I considered it could be an alternative kanji usage, but I wasn't sure since when I checked the japanese dictionary I found the "live long" part but nothing about surviving. Checking other sources I found other quasi-synonyms, and "to survive" among those. About the typo, sorry, the original place had the kanji placed rather strangely and you had to piece everything together. Thank you very much for your help!
    – Honghoa
    Feb 16, 2017 at 17:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .