I saw it in a tanka:


Also what is the "ra" after "hitotsu"?

  • 2
    Welcome! I think it's great that you're reading tanka. In addition to posting questions here (which I hope you'll continue to do), you might find it helpful to study the information on classical Japanese that can be found on this site: imabi.net/classical.htm That might be especially useful if you are not yet familiar with terms like 已然形 and 下二段 as used in my answer to your question. Also see the resources listed under "Learning Classical and Medieval Japanese" on this page: japanese.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/756/…
    – Nanigashi
    Commented Aug 25, 2020 at 23:03
  • I see! I'll check them out :) Thank you so much!
    – Paloma
    Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 7:37

1 Answer 1


ながむれば comprises two elements, ながむれ + the particle .

  • ながむれ is the 已{い}然{ぜん}形{けい} of the 下{しも}二{に}段{だん} verb 眺む{ながむ}, which is the classical equivalent of the modern Japanese verb 眺める{ながめる}.

  • When the particle ば is combined with the 已然形, it means "because/since" or "when/as."

In this case, it's the "when/as" meaning of ば that suits the context, so we can translate ながむれば as "when I look out" or "as I gaze out," etc.

ひとつら is a group of like things, animals, or people arranged in a line or row.

  • Sometimes this word is rendered in kanji as 一連, 一列, or 一行.

  • The two elements ひとつら comprises aren't actually ひとつ + ら, as the wording of your question implies, but ひと + つら, where ひと means "one" and つら means "line" or "row." (cf. the modern verbs 連{つら}なる and 連{つら}ねる.)

In the poem, かりのひとつら refers to a skein of wild geese flying in the sky.

You can read a bit about the usage of ば in classical Japanese here. Note that ば has a very different meaning when combined with the 未{み}然{ぜん}形{けい} instead of the 已然形.)

  • This is so helpful... thank you so much!!
    – Paloma
    Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 7:36
  • You're very welcome! It really is refreshing to see some questions based on tanka, as questions here tend to skew heavily toward modern Japanese as used in popular culture.
    – Nanigashi
    Commented Aug 26, 2020 at 21:03

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