Hey, that’s awesome! Which character?
わがうちの ひしばらくそと でながめる
Warm lights glow: / View of our home / from afar
Darn difficult to make out the meaning behind this 川柳, although the literal, word-by-word translation seems straightforward.
I took しみじみ as the clue. So, it is about someone’s feelings well up, as their house comes into view, lit up like a beacon, warm & inviting as they are returning home from some hardship late in the evening. That’s しみじみ enough for me. Then again, I may well be wrong, as I’ve been so many time before. If so, しみじみ no more I’ll be.
It maybe a bit of both. Speaking for myself, enjoyable (and edifying!) though the exercise is, it takes non-trivial effort and time to get it done. On top of pondering the meaning and researching the words, getting the syllable count in English also requires some time. On some days, I just don’t have the time for both. And I don’t want to put out something that’s 中途半端.
That said, thanks to you @Rrwrex , for your daily effort & time to keep this thread going and for your raconteur-ship, which makes for a lively read.
Oh, believe me I get that.
And apologies, I didn’t mean to pressure anyone.
Despite the word “daily” in the title, I think I’m going to give two or three days to some of the more difficult ones to interpret (like this one!).
I’m still pondering this one myself. In the end I agree it likely makes the most sense to just post a literal word-for-word translation, but I want to get the sense first myself.
Also, your choice of translating 外で as “afar” interests me. I got the impression that it was their house’s porch light, which changes the interpretation somewhat. I’ve no idea what this really means either way!
re: choice of translation
Well, “from afar” is more to create a sentimental mood. The literal translation is, of course, “by the outside,” with で here functioning just like in 公園で行く。The examples Tofugu provides for the で particle grammar under で for Specifying Places and で for Means of Action explains it better than I can. (btw, I looked it up again to make sure that my interpretation is correct.)
I wasn’t trying to correct you, FWIW, just pointing out my initial interpretation was different.
But (keeping in mind that my grammar is terrible) to me this sentence sounds pretty odd:
For that specific sentence where the park indicates the destination, I think に would be the correct particle.
When using で to specify a place as in the Tofugu article, I think it indicates the place where some action occurs. For example:
(assuming that’s the correct verb for flying a kite!)
So my initial interpretation of the senryu was
By the porch-light outside our home, I was staring for a while
But I’m still completely unsure if that’s even correct, much less what it means.
Not to worry about correcting me… as a learner I stand corrected frequently.
Perhaps a better example I could’ve given is 道で散歩する, which would literally translate to “take a walk by means of the road,” but translates as “take a walk on/along the road.” In other words, the place is used for a particular action/activity. Which is how I interpreted the 川柳 in the end.
My initial translation was the same as yours, but I didn’t find it “heartfelt” and so…
The real question is: which direction are they staring?
They could be standing on the porch looking away, or standing farther away (“afar” ) and looking at the lights from the house. That particle is left out!
Still pondering …
Hmm it’s frustrating, I think I have a good image of what the 川柳 wants to convey but I struggle to turn it into English and make it sound nice. A plain version:
Gazing at the lights in my home
For a moment
Because it’s しみじみ編, the image I get is someone at night looking at their house (husband coming back from work fairly late at night?) contemplating/meditating on the the light coming out, probably thinking happily about their family or something.
(I guess the intended meaning of 眺める is meaning 4 on goo 物思いに沈んでぼんやり見る. I struggle to find a fitting English verb or phrase)
And by the way, as usual with 灯, I have no idea of the reading. あかり/あかし/ひ/ともし/ともしび?
This one was tricky! At first I thought that the lights were outside, but I think I agree with the interpretation that the person gazing is outside. That made the mood of the poem suddenly click for me.
Uh oh, I’m not quite sure which reading to use for 灯 . I think it’s ひ? EDIT: Nope, I was wrong, it’s あかり! Thanks Axazel!
the lights of my house
from the porch
I ended up leaving out しばらく in my translation because I thought it was sort of implied in the word “gazing”.
For me, it’s almost always the Japanese, haha. The only time I struggle more with the English is when the only English words available have way too many syllables. I also tend to go for a more literal translation than a poetic one, leaving my translations feeling rather plain.
My Japanese grammar and vocab are both still very poor, so many of these are often a huge struggle for me just to comprehend, let alone interpret.
As someone who does this frequently, I found this one both easy to translate and hard to capture that feeling
わがやのあかり / しばらくそとで / ながめる
our home’s light
a while outside to
take it in
*while is one syllable I already confirmed online
I think you guys are taking the ひ reading for 灯, which makes this sentiment change drastically (I’m imagining a moth staring at a lantern haha).
I believe it’s あかり, which would be the light coming from the house (could include the porch lantern light as well, just not the object itself).
I know we all have conviction here, so I went ahead and checked with my husband who’s a native speaker, and he also read it as あかり.
*edited charged to checked, and added porch to better connect with our conversation
Oh, thanks! Good to know! I didn’t know either word, and jisho and Yomichan were both unclear about what each specifically meant. I’ll change it in mine, too.
I had the same experience. Hate it when that happens!
I find the English to be the struggling point—how to capture such a broad feeling? Do I simply directly translate, or would it be better to put in into a suitable English equivalent? Why are English words SO LONG sometimes and then TOO SHORT for other? Haha it’s so much fun.
I absolutely want to double down on this! Thanks so much @Rrwrex for making this corner of wanikani and keeping it thriving
If I’ve been absent this week it’s not because of the poems at all. I had a hellish week at work—we’re talking psoriasis-flare-up bad—but it was really nice to check in here, read some poetry and distribute some likes
I like your translation a lot! I think yours captured the spirit better than mine. I went in favour of the 3-5-3, for better or worse.
By the way, about the reading of 灯, in the meantime I also asked a native and they answered along the line of “we can’t really tell what reading the writer had in mind but probably ともしび”
Bahahaha Well then, I guess we’re all in the same boat?
@Rrwrex Seems to have knowledge as to how characters are read in order to fit into 川柳 forms… since all of the reading have a different number of characters ひ (1)、あかり(3)、ともしび(4) can we solve for which one it could be in this way?? I don’t know if what I’m saying is nonsense. Or if it’s right, I don’t know how to count for Japanese 川柳 so I wouldn’t even want to hazard a guess
Having chosen the ひ reading for 灯 in my interpretation, I guess a reworded translation would have the home going up in flames, while the approaching home owner fondly looks at the bright fire from outside. Now, that’d be very 川柳-like.
I just mean I was getting the vocab senryu wrong everytime because It had no real context for me until I found this thread. Now I know what it means…so now i’m recognizing the word and getting it right everytime…
Mmmm yes. I can sense the しみじみ
Wow. This is what I meant by ebb and flow!
I woke up to so much great discussion this morning, by far my favorite so far.
And thank you for the kind words! As I’m sure is obvious, this thread has become a passion for me. I’ve learned a ton, made several new friends, and it’s just the push I needed to regularly research more about Japanese every day. Without the community I’d never have started the thread, much less continued it daily.
our home’s light: / a while outside to / take it in
to everyone who participated in this terrific discussion
@Arzar33 explained the feeling far better than I can: “The image I get is someone at night looking at their house (husband coming back from work fairly late at night?) contemplating/meditating on the the light coming out, probably thinking happily about their family or something.”
It was a tough call, but somehow @Axazel’s wording felt more poetic to me. I did take the liberty of adding a colon. The first stanza sets the scene.
I’m starting to think “sentimental” might be better than “heartfelt” for this volume. Such a slippery word to translate
I definitely agree with the apparent consensus that the author is staring at the light, rather than outside but in the light, staring outward (「灯に眺める」or 「灯を眺める」 vs.「灯で眺める」). It’s amazing to me that Japanese allows one to leave such an important particle out without breaking the sentence. Though this sort of ambiguity is often intentional with poetry in any language, I suppose.
I love, love, love the fact that my question about whether Japanese or English was usually harder when translating these was answered both ways!
“We can’t really tell what reading the writer had in mind but probably, 「ともしび」.” Hah! Like the townspeople in Frankenstein holding torches while storming the castle? Thats an interpretation I hadn’t considered!
“@Rrwrex Seems to have knowledge as to how characters are read in order to fit into 川柳 forms…” heh. hah. hee, hahaha, I struggle with this almost daily, which is why I ask everyone to include the reading with their submission. In this case, though, I think it’s a reading that nobody seems to have suggested: 電灯の灯！You know, the reading that Wanikani teaches!
The reading I provided is 6-6-5 instead of 5-7-5, but I hate splitting the reading of a word.
I’m not 100% confident in my reading yet, but I think this one is unlikely to be interpreted in different ways. We will see.
Remember to please use the spoiler tag with your translation attempts! Also, please include the reading in kana with your submission.
Everyone is encouraged to participate, no matter your level!
Online tools like dictionaries, sentence databases, and even AI translation engines are fair game and can be extremely helpful. Yomichan is particularly handy if you use the Chrome or Firefox browser. The 語源由来辞典 is also an excellent resource for researching the etymology of various words and expressions.