Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

In the little field

of Sagamu, the fires

burned, the fires――and

you stood there among them

and said you loved me

Kojiki song

When the god of Sagamu Sea tried to keep Yamato Takeru from crossing and made the sea so rough that Yamato’s ship was almost wrecked, his consort Ototachibana jumped into the sea and stilled the waves. This poem is given in the Kojiki as the farewell poem she recited in her last moments. Sanesashi is a pillow word for Sagamu. The meaning of the poem in the Kojiki context is: “When we met the enemy’s fires in Sagamu’s fields, even in the midst of the flames you said you loved me.” But if read apart from the legend of Yamato Takeru, this is a farmer’s love song, and the meaning is: “In the early spring, the fields were being burned and at the fires’ height, it was you who said, ‘I love you.’” Tou is tsumadoi, “to propose.”