A couple of verses from the Diary of Lady Murasaki, which I have just finished reading, and a review to follow. I’ve included a footnote from the book.
“I was in the midst of composing a reply to a note sent by Lady Koshosho, when all of a sudden it became dark and started to rain. As the messenger was in a hurry, I finished it off with: ‘and the sky too seems unsettled.’ I must have included a rather lame verse, for that evening the messenger returned with a poem written on dark purple cloud-patterned paper:
The skies at which I gaze and gaze are overcast;
How is it that they too rain down tears of longing?
Unable to remember what I had written, I replied:
It is the season for such rainy skies;
Clouds may break, but these watching sleeves will never dry.”
“In particular I missed Lady Dainagon, who would often talk to me as we lay close by Her Majesty in the evenings. Had I then succumbed to life at court?
I sent her the following:
How I long for those waters on which we lay,
A longing keener than the frost on a duck’s wing,
To which she replied:
Awakening to find no friend to brush away the frost,
The Mandarin duck longs for her mate at night.*”
*Mandarin ducks were supposed to always go around in inseparable pairs