I have chosen the sentence


How would you translate it to match the meaning literally and with the intended message ?

  1. According to The Complete Musashi translated by Alexander Bennet

In all things, I never despaired over parting

  1. According to Wikipedia:

Never let yourself be saddened by a separation

  1. According to this article

“Izure” is an indefinite pronoun like “everyone” in English and together with the particle “no” defines the following noun, while “nimo” is a compound of “ni” and “mo” and has the function of underlining the meaning of an affirmative or negative sentence. “Wakare” means “farewell, separation”, and “kanashima-zu” is a compound of the verb “kanashimu” and the negative suffi x “zu”, whereby “kanashimu” has the meaning “to mourn, grieve, lament”...“I will not be sad when I must take my leave of any way.

Number 1 is in the past tense, number 2 is a command form and number 3 is future tense.

1 Answer 1


At least grammatically speaking, 悲しまず is not an explicit imperative but a plain negative form of 悲しむ ("not to grieve", "not to be sad"). It's simply 悲しまない in modern Japanese. As usual, this sentence lacks an explicit subject like "I" or "you". So the problem is the nature of this document itself. Why, and to whom, did Musashi write this?

If you regard this document as a set of "life lessons", as English Wikipedia describes, it's natural to interpret this sentence as a plain form imperative and translate it along the lines of "Do not grieve" or "One must not grieve".

However, Japanese Wikipedia describes this as a 自誓書; a document of oath/declaration that describes how he wanted to live. If this is the case, "I will not grieve" or "I do not grieve" would be the natural translation. (You probably know there is no explicit "future tense" in Japanese.) You cannot tell which is correct just by looking at the grammar of this sentence. The use of past tense is not correct as far as grammar goes, but it's understandable because this was written shortly before his death.

The literal translation of いずれの道にも is "(even) on whichever way".

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