Oriori no Uta : Poems for All Seasons

Yamato is

the best of lands

Ringed by

green fences

by mountains enfolded

Yamato the beautiful!

 

Kojiki song

When the tragic prince of ancient legend, Yamato Takeru, died on the Nobo Plain in Ise, he is said to have recited this poem of longing for his homeland. Mahoroba, which is the same as mahora and mahorama means “a superb place.” The poem says that Yamato is such a place and, encircled as it is by rings of mountains as if by green fences, it is truly beautiful. In fact, though, it probably bore no relation to the facts of Yamato Takeru’s life, but was a poem of praise sung during the kunimi, or “land-viewing” religious rite. And yet, when read as a poem of nostalgia for his homeland by this ill-fated prince just before he died, this poem is deeply moving.

 


大和は

Yamato wa



国の真秀ろば

kuni no mahoroba



畳なづく

Tatanazuku



青垣

aokaki



山籠れる

yama komoreru



大和しうるはし

Yamato shi uruwashi

古事記歌謡(こじきかよう)

古代伝説の悲劇の皇子倭建命が伊勢の能煩野で絶命する時、故郷をしのんで歌ったものという。「真秀ろば」はマホラ、マホラマと同じで、すぐれた所の意。一首、大和は陸の秀でた所、重なりあう青い垣根のような山々に抱かれた大和こそ、げに美わしい所、という意味だが、実際は皇子の事蹟とは無関係に、国見の儀式の時歌われた国ぼめの歌だろうという。しかし、悲運の皇子のいまわのきわの懐郷の歌として読むとき、この歌はまことにあわれ深い。