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I translated this song a bit ago for practice and, looking at it again, I am wondering what 先 means here:

ゆるりと 春を愛づる日に

袖振り合う縁の先

私はあなたと出会った

Do you think 先 means "end of our relationship" or "start/future of our relationship" here? For context, the speaker ends up dying at the end of the song (being killed by her lover no less), and so "end of our relationship" might make sense.

The 袖振り合う bit comes from the 袖振り合うも他生の縁 proverb which means, "Even a chance acquaintance (started by sleeves brushing by each other) is decreed by destiny." The reason I didn't initially translate 縁 as destiny here was because of the context where the speaker is talking about her relationship (I think it was used sort of like a play on words but I could be wrong.) Also, the speaker sings えん, so 縁 is definitely either relationship or destiny, and not edge or memento (this kanji is used for too many words :). I have a rough translation of this line, but I am not confident in it at all:

On a day when I leisurely admire spring,

(it is) the end of our relationship sparked by sleeves brushing by each other

I met you by chance

Another thing that's tripping me up is the lack of particle after 先, so I'm just assuming that it is だ.

On the chance 縁 does mean destiny here, could the line mean something like:

On a day when I leisurely admire spring,

(It is) the destination of (a) fate where our sleeves brush by each other,

I met you by chance

So what is your take on this, there is every chance I have been staring at it for too long and am completely off :) Also please note I am more interested in understanding the Japanese than making the translation pretty at this stage, so that's why its sort of a mess :)

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    +1 Interesting question. Funny you should mention the other reading of 「縁」. Because there is a 俳句 by 松尾芭蕉 that goes, 「鶯や餅に糞する縁の先」. For a long time I thought it read 縁{えん}の先{さき}, giving the poem an either providential or portentous tone. I think the「縁{ふち}の先」in that haiku is generally interpreted to mean the edge of the roof but secretly I still hope 芭蕉 jocularly meant it as a pun. – Eddie Kal Jan 31 at 1:52
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So you know the aphorism : 袖振り合うも多生の縁,

According to 故事ことわざ辞典 in the link,

袖振り合うも多生の縁とは、知らない人とたまたま道で袖が触れ合うようなちょっとしたことも、前世からの深い因縁であるということ。

Also English translation is

Even a chance acquaintance is decreed by destiny.(偶然に知り合うことも運命による)

I think 袖振り合う縁の先 is described in the same sense and the situation is described as "node" or "event" retrospectively by the author. In other words, "the event of sleeves brushing by each other" is destined. This remind me of "Indra's net", Buddhist philosophy.

To my interpretation, "(started by sleeves brushing by each other)" is bit off, it may not affects the interpretation of the lyric though. I want to interpret it in a more abstract way as "node" or "event" rather than "start/future of our relationship". I mean your interpretation sounds more dramatic and focused on the instant moment of ゆるりと 春を愛づる日に, but I think 袖振り合う縁の先 is used as a metaphorical sense.

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  • Hello, thanks so much for your help! To make sure I am understanding this correctly, the translation can be something like, "the destined event of our sleeves brushing by each other." Here, 先 has the more metaphorical meaning of "event" or "node," and 縁 means destiny. Thanks for your help already, sorry for all the questions. – MastahxGraffiti Jan 31 at 3:36
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    @MastahxGraffiti 先 basically means front/ahead, but 袖振り合う縁の先 is a set phrase and a metaphor. Sleeves touching is very soft moment and it may be hard to recognize, but even such a moment is destined. The phrase signifying it as the destined event rather than two different persons' sleeves merely touched on their own path. – kimi Tanaka Jan 31 at 4:40
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    @MastahxGraffiti Hmm... rather than "destined", think of it this way: because of certain things that happened in previous lives, many of them, that event happened. So it is not divine preordained, but something that happens or will happen for specific reasons. Those reasons have been put in place, setting off the chain of events that lead to the brushing past (of sleeves, here the sleeves are also a metaphor). 因果応報, 因縁, 縁起. – Eddie Kal Jan 31 at 8:34
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    @MastahxGraffiti If you imagine 縁 as timeline-like ribbons connecting past events to future outcomes, then this 縁の先 can be interpreted as the other end of the ribbon started by the 袖の振り合い: the あなたとの出会い. – Will Jan 31 at 9:51
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    @MastahxGraffiti I suppose there may be other reasonable interpretations possible too; but yes, that's sortof the interpretation that makes the most sense to me. Chronologically speaking, Xの先にY basically referring to an event Y beyond an event X. – Will Jan 31 at 11:18

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