Memories were all he left behind when he went down to the East, and never ever will I tell his name.

A poem like a sigh that escaped a woman left behind when her man set off for the Eastern provinces, this is a good example of the sophistication of pre-modern song. The compression of the first line is especially fine. Shirajira means openly, but also suggests shiranai, I don’t know (his name). I will never speak his name, will hide it forever in my heart, she vows. It’s interesting to compare this man who went down to the East to a sad wanderer like the ancient poet Ariwara no Narihira. Reference :

Audio by kudasai, generative typography made using Processing.