A lot of the time with calligraphic japanese I get the impression the writer is just being deliberately messy because it looks cool and even they wouldn't be able to read it after a while.
Hah! Took the words right out of my mouth! I mean, it's not like it was meant to be read quickly.
It would be great if you would keep posting pictures of the calligraphy!
I'll keep that in mind, maybe I'll post some more.
Also, wouldn't it be more appropriate for the kanji transcriptions to be 旧字体 (especially since you're keeping 旧仮名遣い)?
Possibly, but in my experience virtually every publisher nowadays converts to 新体字 in editions of classical works. I think the feeling is that changing to 新体字 doesn't really affect the text (especially since you're already doing so much kana->kanji conversion anyway). But changing to 新仮名遣い can mess things up since we can never really be sure how things were pronounced when these texts were written. Modern editions usually fix what are felt to be mistakes in the old kana usage (poem 3 will have an example of this) but they don't actually change to shin-kana.
Also, it's kind of annoying to get the old kanji to come up in the IME.
I mean, it's not like it was meant to be read quickly.
I don't believe that the target audience for these manuscripts would have had any problems reading them. They may not have read them as quickly as we might today, especially poetry, but I don't think the readers would have been confused by the text. I also don't think they would have really spent that much time admiring the calligraphy -- of course handwriting ability was important, but a text like this would primarily be intended to be read, and only secondarily be intended as a work of art in itself.
(Poem 3 may be delayed a day or two, but I'll put it up as soon as I can.)
Last edited by yudantaiteki (2012 January 08, 4:22 am)
あしひきの asihiki no
山鳥の尾の yamadori no wo no
しだり尾の sidari wo no
長々し夜を naganagasi yo wo
独りかも寝む hitori ka mo ne-mu
あしひきの: This is a 枕詞 connecting to 山. The meaning is not known for certain. The pronunciation is also debatable; it seems to have been pronounced あしびき in the Nara period and then あしひき in Heian and later.
山鳥: This is the name of a specific bird, known in English as the “copper pheasant”:
尾: Older manuscripts do not always distinguish correctly between お and を; the pronunciation had already shifted by the time these manuscripts were made and the writers were not linguists. Scholars since Motoori Norinaga have tried to recover the original pronunciation – obviously there is a limit to this (especially in a case like this, where you have a Nara-period poem appearing in an imperial collection almost 300 years later, then selected for the 百人一首 about 200 years after that.) Modern research transcribes this word as を.
尾のしだり尾の: The repetition here is similar to poem 1. I believe that the second の here is a subject marker connecting 尾 to 長々し. しだる is a verb meaning to hang down low, so the しだり尾 describes the copper pheasant's long, hanging tail.
長々し: Normal classical grammar would require this to be 長々しき夜, since the 連体形 of ながながし is ながながしき. However, older Japanese sometimes used 終止形 as 連体形, and this appears in poetry from the Nara period such as this.
独りかも寝む: The も is emphatic, and also serves to pad the line to seven beats. The verb 寝（ぬ） is one of a number of single-syllable verbs in classical Japanese, most of these are 下二段 verbs. む is an auxiliary that expresses volition or uncertainty, and attaches to the 未然形 of verbs (in this case, the 未然形 of ぬ is ね). In this case the auxiliary represents a guess and is like modern だろう. The suffix is sometimes written as ん (as in the base text); ん and む are equivalent and there is no universal consensus on how to deal with the transcription. ん does not pick up its modern negative meaning until later, and does not show up in poetry of this period. The pattern か...む is common to express uncertainty.
Translation: The copper pheasant's hanging tail is long – perhaps I will have to sleep alone on this long night.
After the first two poems from Emperors, Teika moves on to famous poets from the Nara period. I think his source is probably the Japanese preface (仮名序） to the Kokinshu. The Kokinshu was the first imperially commissioned poetry anthology, and it has both a Chinese preface and a Japanese preface. The purpose of the prefaces is to explain the origin and purpose of Japanese poetry to show that it has a rich tradition comparable to Chinese poetry. After describing the origin of the poetry with the gods and the basis of it, the preface starts to mention actual people, starting with Hitomaro: かの御時に、大君大き三位、柿本人麻呂なむ、歌の聖なりける。
Not much is known about his life; he lived during the times of Empress Jito and Mommu, but beyond that there's not much certain that can be said. There are many legends, though, and in later times he became venerated as a kind of god of poetry. He is still considered to be one of the most notable and best poets of the 万葉集 time.
Source: 拾遺和歌集, poem 778, in the 恋三 volume. The 詞書 is, once again, 題知らず. However, the original poem (万葉集 2812) is anonymous, so this may not be an authentic poem. The 拾遺和歌集 is the third Imperial collection, compiled around 1005-7.
The first three lines are what is known as a 序（じょ） or 序詞（じょことば）, sometimes translated as “preface”. Basically the 序 does not necessarily have any direct connection to the meaning of the poem but simply leads into the latter part – in this case, the 長々し acts as a pivot to the final two lines which are the actual poem. This is somewhat like a 掛詞, and the 序 often involve 掛詞, but rather than just being one word, they are set up over several lines. It's possible to translate this using a simile (i.e. “a night long like the tail...”), and this is sometimes done even in modern Japanese glosses, but it's important to remember that the original Japanese does not contain any explicit comparative words like ように.
In this case, however, the 序 does have some relation to the rest of the poem. A 山鳥 “couple” supposedly slept apart from each other, and so it was often related in poetry to being separated from one's lover. (Interestingly enough, some old commentaries reject this reading, from the belief that a 序 cannot have relation to the rest of the poem.)
Long nights were associated with autumn; I already mentioned how autumn was thought of as the sorrowful season. Since night was the time when lovers met, a long autumn night separated from one's lover is a common poetic theme.
Last edited by yudantaiteki (2012 January 10, 7:06 pm)
田子の浦に tago no ura ni
うち出でて見れば uti-ide-te mire-ba
白妙の sirotahe no
富士の高嶺に huzi no takane ni
雪は降りつつ yuki ha huri-tutu
田子の浦: This bay is now in Shizuoka-ken; it is near Mt. Fuji and was considered an 歌枕 (a place appropriate for use in poetry). The Japanese wikipedia has a good article on this. Note that the first two lines have 6 and 8 beats respectively; this is known as 字余り and is relatively common – sometimes there are even two extra beats. The reverse, 字足らず, is much less common.
うち出でて: The prefix うち is very common in classical Japanese. It can have an emphatic meaning, or simply pad the line. The verb idu is the ancestor of modern 出る; it's often used in classical Japanese to mean “start a journey.”
見れば: One of the challenges that you face early in classical Japanese study is the particle ば, because it has two completely different meanings. One attaches to the 未然形 and means “if” just as in modern Japanese. The other one attaches to the 已然形 and means “since”, or sometimes just “when” (like modern から or ので, or と). In this case, mire is the 已然形 of the 上一段 verb miru, so it means “when you look...”
白妙の: This is the same 枕詞 as in poem 2; in poem 2 it may have been the literal meaning, but here it's just a 枕詞 for either 富士 or 雪. It can be written either as 白妙 or 白栲
高嶺: A word for a high peak (ね meaning “peak” was productive in Nara Japanese but later became a bound morpheme, just showing up in compounds like this, or modern 嶺颪（ねおろし）. The word 峰（みね） is obviously related.
つつ: See poem 1.
Translation: When you sail from Tago bay and look, you see the snow continuously falling on the high peak of Mt. Fuji.
Author: 山部赤人（やまべのあかひと）, also written 山辺 as in the manuscript above. He lived some time in the early part of the 8th century, but as with many of these early authors, almost nothing is known for certain about his life. Just like Hitomaro, he is mentioned in the preface to the 古今集, in this passage: 山辺赤人といふ人ありけり。歌にあやしく妙なりけり。 (Here, あやし means “extremely” and 妙, read as たへ, means “skilled”)
Source: 新古今集, poem 675, in the 冬 volume. The preface is once again 題知らず. The poem is a modified version of a 万葉集 original:
(ゆ is a Nara-period particle meaning “through” or “from”)
The 万葉集 was not an imperially commissioned anthology, so the compilers of the later imperial anthologies felt free to take poems from the 万葉集 for use in their collections. However, there are frequently differences between the imperial collection version and the 万葉集 original. The main reason for this is that by the Heian period, the 万葉集 was not widely read because the script was too difficult. To this day there are a lot of uncertainties surrounding the reading of the characters in many of the poems, and there are even some poems that are partially unreadable.
So the compilers sometimes got the 万葉集 poems from secondary sources. One of these sources is called the 古今和歌六帖, a collection of about 4500 poems arranged by topic. Given all this uncertainty it's perhaps easy to see how differences in reading could result.
In this poem, commentators from very early on have noted how the difference between 降りつつ (is repeatedly falling) and 降りける (has fallen). One common opinion is that the latter version (the original) is better because it's impossible to row out of the bay and see snow repeatedly (or continuously) falling, and some commentators mention that you can't even see the top of Mt. Fuji from Tago bay because of the cloud cover, and that even if it's clear you can't see snow fall because it's too far away. It's also possible to view the つつ version as presenting an idealized appraisal of the mountain's beauty rather than something a person would literally see rowing out of the bay.
Thanks, yudantaiteki. I'm not good enough for classical Japanese yet, but I read everything to learn. This is my favorite poem so far, though I'm not one much for poetry.
Thank you for all of your hard work.
Thanks. I try to make the explanations accessible even to people who don't know much (or any) classical Japanese, but it's hard to completely do so.
Someone asked earlier about studying -- one thing that's common in early classical study is "parsing"; that is, identifying each conjugation and part of speech of each word. So for instance, for 見れば you note that it's the izenkei of the kami-ichidan verb miru plus the particle ba meaning "when". (or 已 K1 見る + "when" ば for short). This seems tedious, but I think it's probably the best way. Unlike modern Japanese, you can't do 10,000 sentences or AJATT because there's just not enough classical Japanese out there, and in particular there's nothing that really constitutes "beginner" classical Japanese.
I enjoy reading this thread very much, yudantaiteki!
Do you know, is there any relation to or importing/loaning from Chinese or Korean in these classical Japanese poems?
Chinese loan words are very rare in this kind of poetry. Sometimes the prose prefaces indicate that they were composed off of themes taken from Chinese poems (particularly Bai Juyi). I don't know about Korean influence.
奥山に okuyama ni
紅葉踏み分け momizi humiwake
鳴く鹿の naku sika no
声聞く時ぞ kowe kiku toki zo
秋は悲しき aki ha kanasiki
奥山: This is specifically the deep mountains where there are no towns or settlements. Often there are spirits or gods living in these deep mountains, although in this poem it's just a place with deer.
紅葉: In this case these are fallen autumn leaves on the ground (I think). The poem's position in the 古今集 suggests that these are leaves of the 萩 plant (genus lespedeza, “Japanese clover”).
踏み分け: This verb essentially means to make your way through some part of nature (i.e. fallen leaves, snow, dew-soaked plants). Literally it means “step on and part”. The grammar of this poem can allow either for the deer or the speaker to be the one going through the fallen leaves; see the Commentary section for more detail.
鹿: Male deer were said to wander the forest, crying for their mates. Thus crying deer are a symbol of sorrow, particularly sorrow due to being parted from one's love. Youtube has some videos of deer crying if you want to hear what it sounds like.
ぞ: The classical Japanese use of this particle is different from in modern Japanese. Like modern Japanese it is a particle of emphasis, but unlike modern Japanese it is not slang, masculine, or blunt. It is used as a copula, and as a general emphasis particle. It can also mark subjects or objects.
悲しき: Classical Japanese sentences usually end with a 終止形. However, there is a feature of classical grammar known as 係り結び. When certain particles are used within a sentence (such as ぞ and なむ), the sentence ends with the 連体形 instead. kanasiki is the 連体形 of kanasi.
Translation: When I hear the crying deer, stepping through the fallen autumn leaves, I feel that autumn is sad.
Author: 猿丸大夫（さるまるのたいふ）. A shadowy figure about whom nothing is known – whether he even existed or not is uncertain. Teika probably included him in this collection because he is one of the “36 poetic sages,” (三十六歌仙) a list made by Fujiwara no Kinto (966-1041). (Poem 3's author, Hitomaro, is also on this list – I should have mentioned in there but I forgot. I believe that all 36 of the sages are included in the 百人一首. There is also an older list of “6 poetic sages” which I will return to later once one of them comes up.) There is a poetry collection attributed to Sarumaru but it is universally considered to be a later fabrication.
大夫 can have several meanings so that appellation doesn't really clear up the mystery much; it could mean he was a higher-ranking court official, or a priest at the Ise Shrine. There are theories that 猿丸 was some sort of poetic name and various theories have been advanced for his true identity, but nothing can be said for certain.
Source: 古今集 poem 215, in the 秋上 volume. It is listed as anonymous. The prose preface is 是貞親王の家の歌合の歌. Koresada no miko was a 9th century prince, the second son of 光孝天皇. The 歌合（うたあわせ） mentioned here was held in 893, and was an important source of autumn poems for the 古今集. Poetry competitions were a common recreation in the Heian court, and they furnished a great deal of poems for the imperial anthologies.
As with poem 1, Teika was intimately familiar with the 古今集and would surely have known this poem was anonymous; it is included in the fabricated 猿丸集 so he perhaps included it just because he liked this poem a lot.
As I mentioned above, the main question of this poem is whether the deer or the speaker is stepping through the fallen leaves. Either works – of course the court nobles reading and writing this kind of poem would not have actually gone out in the deep mountains, but there are many poems that contain statements like this, so that's not a big problem.
The poem is effective in its simple imagery and strong closing line.
It's not easy. I have a little book that has examples of 崩し字 from a number of different historical manuscripts, and since I already know what this poem's text is, I can just look up the syllables in the book and see which kanji it is. I've been doing this with the 百人一首 and Genji but I'm nowhere near the point where I could just take a manuscript I had no idea about and figure out more than 50% of it.
Of course a lot of people say that the printed kana look like squiggles too, so it's just what you're used to.
mind linking that book? I wouldn't mind getting it or at least anything close to that.
This is the one I use:
http://www.amazon.co.jp/%E5%AD%97%E5%85 … amp;sr=8-1
This is what it looks like:
(The little kanji next to each character are an identification of what manuscript the character comes from)
Last edited by yudantaiteki (2012 January 21, 9:33 pm)
Also someone asked for more manuscript pictures, so here's one of this poem:
(I cannot see the わ in there; I'm sure it's there somehow but I can't find it.)
Last edited by yudantaiteki (2012 January 21, 9:36 pm)
I wonder how long it would take to read 崩し字 fluently...
thanks for the link but one thing I don't like about amazon is the expensive shipping prices. There is a few manga books and other books that I would love to buy from there(as I wouldn't be able to find it over here).
Last edited by ta12121 (2012 January 21, 9:46 pm)
I like that poem! Maybe just because it's not nearly so oblique and allusive as some of the others.
I had an hour of tutoring in 崩し字 every week for a year and I continued to suck, which is probably my own fault -- I really really didn't care about 崩し字 -- but also because my professor's sink-or-swim attitude and my previous total lack of instruction in classical Japanese left me without any context to make sense of it. That's the one thing that makes me think, oh, if only I could go back and get my Ph.D...
You should clean up that graffiti on the right hand side of your book.
I wonder how long it would take to read 崩し字 fluently...
It's not possible to reach a point where you can just pick up any manuscript and read it as if it were typeset. There's simply too much variety in handwriting and too little material to learn from. This tends to be even worse with private diaries or 聞き書き records (i.e. lecture notes) that were not intended for public consumption -- sometimes even experts have trouble deciphering them. And of course if the text has lots of kanji, it can be even harder. I've been attending a monthly seminar where several professors and grad students read a not-yet-typeset Genji commentary. Several of the people are full professors with decades of experience who have published typeset editions of manuscripts, and even working together they sometimes cannot decipher some of the symbols in the commentary we're reading now.
But given the progress I've made in just a few months, and based on what my professor says, a year or so is enough to get the point where you can read most kana without too much trouble.
The grammar notes are a little more verbose in this one; it has a couple of tricky points that I wanted to highlight for people wanting to study classical Japanese.
カササギの kasasagi no
渡せる橋に watas-eru hasi ni
置く霜の oku simo no
白きを見れば siroki wo mire-ba
夜ぞ更けにける yo zo huke-ni-keru
カササギ: A bird, usually represented in English as “magpie” or “european magpie”. Here, this is a reference to the 七夕 story of Orihime and Hikoboshi. You can find detail on this legend on Wikipedia and other places, but in brief, Orihime and Hikoboshi were in love but were forbidden to see each other. They could only meet once a year, on Tanabata (7/7), when magpies would form a bridge in the sky with their wings. The の here is a subject marker.
渡せる: I hate this grammar point because I've messed it up so many times for as many years as I've been studying classical. Obviously this is the 4-dan verb watasu. If you look at the conjugation tables you'll see that watase is both the 已然形 and 命令形 of the verb. You should also expect the whole thing will be a 連体形 since it's modifying 橋. Depending on the dictionary or guide you look at, you may find a り suffix with a 連体形 of る, that means ている or てある (i.e. continuation or resultant state). That seems to make sense here – it would mean “the bridge that has been set up by the magpie.” But it's hard to see why that would follow the 已然形 or 命令形. You'll be even more confused if you look at this suffix with other verb classes – sometimes it follows a non-existent form, sometimes the 未然形, and sometimes the 命令形 only. Arrgh!
What's actually going on here is that this is a contraction. The verb ari is added to the 連用形 of the verb, in this case watasi, and it contracts to wataseri, or in this case the 連体形 wataseru. If you're intending to study classical Japanese long-term, the faster you memorize this and cement it in your memory, the happier you will be. Sorry for this long note, but this is something that caused me no end of problems.
白き: The 連体形 form has two major uses. The first, as suggested by the name, is to connect to (and modify) a noun. You still see this sometimes even in modern Japanese, in very formal language or set phrases. The second usage is to act as a nominalizer – i.e. it functions like の or こと in modern Japanese. Here, 白き means “The whiteness of the frost...” This usage also occasionally pops up in modern Japanese in fixed phrases or proverbs. (Of course, you have to be careful of the 係り結び that occurs in the last poem and this one – the reason why you use the 連体形 is that it essentially has the meaning of のだ in modern Japanese.)
更けにける: に is one of the most difficult things in classical Japanese. It functions as the particle に, much as in modern Japanese (with all its many meanings), and this has shown up several times in the poems so far, including this one (橋に置く霜). However, に is also the 連用形 of the copula, and the 連用形 of the suffix ぬ that indicates completion. To figure out which usage is intended you have to look at the surrounding grammar. In this case the suffix ける goes after 連用形, so this is not the particle. It turns out to be the 連用形 of ぬ – so this whole thing is like “I realize that night has come [or “it has gotten late”].”
In other words, the full parsing is: huke (連用形 of the 下二段 verb huku) + ni (連用形 of the “completion” suffix nu) + keru (連体形 of the suffix keri).
Translation: When I look at the frost on the bridge spanned by magpies, I realize that night has come.
Author: 大伴家持（おおとものやかもち） (718-785). He is considered to be one of the compilers of the 万葉集, and books 17-20 of that collection are his poems. There is also a later 家持集 collection but it is considered to be inauthentic. The poem given here comes from the 家持集 rather than the 万葉集 so it's probably not an authentic poem. He is one of the 36 poetic sages.
Source: 新古今集 620, from the winter volume. The preface is 題知らず.
This poem is difficult to understand because the relationship between the Tanabata legend, the frost, and night is not clear. There seem to be two basic ways of reading the poem. The first is that the image is that of a clear night where you can see stars – frost on the heavenly bridge of the Tanabata legend is used as a metaphor for the starry sky. The other way is that the heavenly bridge is a symbol representing the palace, so the “frost on the bridge” is frost on the stairs of the palace.
One other idea that I saw in one of the pre-modern commentaries is that the first two lines are merely a序 (preface) as in poem 3, to set up the word 霜, and has no actual connection to the poem.
I think personally I like the stars explanation the best, but both interpretations have support in old commentaries and uses of these images in other old poems, so it's impossible to say for sure which one was intended (or how it was read by Teika).
Last edited by yudantaiteki (2012 January 28, 10:08 pm)
Thanks for the new poem.
One thing I always find interesting about these old poems is how many words in them still survive in modern Japanese. In this poem, if you ignore the grammatical elements and old kana usage, you get カササギ、渡す、橋、置く、霜、白い、見る、夜、and 更ける, all of which are still in use in modern Japanese, and all but 更ける and カササギ are very common words. On the whole, I find that the vocabulary of classical Japanese is quite close to modern Japanese, but unfortunately there are a number of very frequently used words in classical that are either lost or have different meanings in the modern language. And of course the grammar is very difficult to even a native speaker without specific instruction in classical grammar.
Last edited by yudantaiteki (2012 January 31, 8:19 am)
天の原 ama no hara
ふりさけ見れば huri-sake mire-ba
春日なる kasuga naru
三笠の山に mikasa no yama ni
出でし月かも idesi tuki ka mo
天の原: The sky, or the heavens. 原 here indicates a wide open area – this name is very old; the 古事記 mentions 高天の原 as the dwelling place of (certain) gods.
ふりさけ: This is a combination of 振る and 放（さ）く; it means to gaze far off, or look at something far away.
春日: There are a number of places in Japan with this name, but this refers to a part of Nara. (The kanji used are evidently borrowed from an old 枕詞 that connected to the place name – 春日（はるひ）を)
なる: This is a contraction of にある, with the same meaning as in modern Japanese.
三笠の山: As the context makes clear, this is a mountain in Nara. It is now known as 若草山（わかくさやま）.
出でし: し is the 連体形 of き, a suffix that indicates past tense, usually things that the speaker personally experienced. In this case, the speaker is talking about the moon he saw when he was still in Kasuga. 月が出る is still used in modern Japanese to refer to the moon appearing. (The に in 山に出づ means that the moon is rising or appearing from behind the mountain)
かも: Classical Japanese poetry has a number of emphatic particles and particle sequences – they're so common because they make it easy to pad lines out to the 5 or 7 beat length. Unfortunately the meanings overlap with other particles and it's sometimes hard to see what it means. かも can show doubt or possibility, but it can also just so emphasis. The sources I looked at for this poem all say it shows emphasis in this poem, not doubt. I'm not entirely sure how they rule out the possibility meaning, but I assume these scholars know more about the poems than I do.
When I gaze far off into the sky, I see the same moon that came out from Mikasa mountain in Kasuga.
Author: 安倍仲麿（あべのなかまろ） (701-770). Not a great deal is known about his life, but he went to China to study, returned to Japan once, and then went back to China, living the rest of his life there. See the “source” section for more information on this (and the Wikipedia article, of course). He is one of the 36 poetic sages.
Source: 古今集 406, in the Travel volume. The prose preface is 唐土（もろこし）にて月を見てよみける。
唐土 is an old name for China. にて is equivalent to modern で (you still see にて in formal language). よむ is the normal verb used for reciting a poem, and the けり suffix is often used in prose prefaces of this sort.
In addition to this prose preface, there is a 左注(called this because in the manuscripts it is literally written to the left of the poem): “It is said that this poem was composed in the following circumstance: Long ago, Nakamaro was sent to China to study. Many years went by and he did not return to Japan. After some time, another person came from Japan, and the two of them decided to return to Japan together. At a place called Meishu (modern Ningbo), the Chinese held a farewell party. Night came on, and Nakamaro read this poem when he saw the beautiful moon arise.” If this note is accurate, the poem would have been composed in 753 when Nakamaro was returning to Japan.
This poem makes more sense read with the prose preface – I haven't read enough scholarship to know exactly why Teika stripped the poems of their prefaces when he collected them, but this is one case where I think the poem suffers as a result. The exact feeling evoked by the poem would be somewhat different depending on whether you accept the note that he was on his way back to Japan or not – in that case he would be thinking of the place he is about to return to, rather than just an abstract thought about his homeland.
One additional interpretation that I saw in one of the pre-modern commentaries is that this is also meant to convey the feeling of separation from his Chinese hosts and friends. So that when the Chinese see the moon it will be the same one that he's seeing back in Kasuga.
The idea that the moon (or stars) you are looking at is the same one as in some other place is a pretty common image even in the West – not only in poetry but even in modern pop culture.
Last edited by yudantaiteki (2012 February 05, 2:44 am)
わが庵は waga iho ha
都の辰巳 miyako no tatumi
しかぞ住む sika zo sumu
世をうぢ山と yo wo udi yama to
人は言ふなり hito ha ihu nari
辰巳: This is a way of indicating direction via the Chinese zodiac symbols; you can read the wikipedia article on “Earthly branches” for a complete list. This is “southeast”.
しか: “Like this” (i.e. modern このように). Exactly what this refers to is up for debate; the modern edition I'm using chooses “peacefully”. It's possible there is a 掛詞 with 鹿 (deer), since a place where deer live would be an isolated, sorrowful location.
世をうぢ山: This is a 掛詞（かけことば）, or wordplay. It's a somewhat unusual wordplay, however. 宇治山 is a place near Kyoto; it is probably best known today because the last ten chapters of the Tale of Genji take place there (and they are usually known as the 宇治十帖 because of this). The first part, 世をう, sounds like the う from 憂し (“painful” or “suffering”). Having a 掛詞 that only plays on half the word is something I've seen elsewhere, although 世を憂し is incomplete also (it needs a と思ふ or something like that afterwards). The idea of finding the world painful is often connected with religious retreat, so this seems to fit with the author, who is apparently a priest.
人: This word often has a number of specific meanings in poetry; here it just means “other people” in general.
なり: This is a special use of the copula なり that's usually called the 伝聞; it marks something that is being heard (either literally, like the cry of a bird, or figuratively, like here).
Translation: My hut is southwest of the capital, where I live peacefully in this way. I hear that people say I reject the world at Mount Uji.
Author: 喜撰法師（きせんほうし）. This is another person who we don't know anything about. This is the only poem attributed to him in the Imperial anthologies. He is one of the six poetic sages mentioned in the preface to the 古今集, but even there it says that although he is reported to have composed many poems, few of them are known.
Source: 古今集 983, from the 雑下 volume (miscellaneous poems). The preface is 題知らず.
This poem has gained no small measure of fame due to its association with the last 10 chapters of the Tale of Genji, which are often held to be the best part of the work.
As I said above, the exact meaning of しか is debatable but the general theory is that it means “peacefully”. One alternate view is that it refers to the last two lines, meaning the speaker is confirming that he lives there, finding the world painful. Another view is that the last line should be read as 言へども, meaning that it is a contrast to the first three lines.
This is one of the most well-known, if not the most well-known, poems from the collection.
花の色は hana no iro ha
移りにけりな uturi-ni-keri na
いたづらに itadura ni
我が身世にふる waga mi yo ni huru
ながめせし間に nagame se-si ma ni
This poem has a very dense set of wordplays that make the entire thing have essentially two separate meanings; a literal one and a figurative one.
花の色: (1) The color of the flowers (sakura), (2) The woman's beauty
移りにけりな: As in modern Japanese, 移る has the basic meaning of “move”. This leads to a number of extended symbolic meanings – in this case (1) flowers fading and falling, (2) the woman's beauty fading away through age. に is the 連用形 of the completion suffix ぬ, and the けり is the “surprise” or “realization” suffix. な is emphatic here (it is not like modern ね, it's more like よ or ぞ).
いたづらに: “uselessly” or “fruitlessly”. There is some debate over which word this connects to; the usual explanation is ふる. いたずらに still shows up occasionally in modern Japanese. The “trick” meaning of いたずら is a later development.
我が身: In Heian and Nara Japanese, 我 almost always means “self” (i.e. 自分) rather than being a personal pronoun, although it can refer to the speaker. So here it can be either (1) the “bodies” of the flowers, or (2) the speaker.
世にふる: 世 has a lot of meanings – it can just generally mean “world” or “society”, but it also is used to allude to romantic relationships. ふる plays on 経る (spend time, or get old) and 降る (rain falling, as in modern Japanese).
ながめせし: ながめ plays on 長雨 (long rain) and 眺め (gaze). 眺め in poetry almost always refers to someone staring or gazing out into space from sorrow or worry over a romantic partner. せし is the 連用形 of す (do) plus the “personal past” suffix し in 連体形 to connect to 間. The poem is an inverted sentence, with the first 2 lines coming after the next 3.
Translation: (1) The cherry blossoms have faded and fallen, during the time when the long rains fell uselessly on them. (2) My beauty has faded, during the time when I wasted time in romantic relationships and gazed out with worry.
Author: 小野小町（おののこまち）. One of the six poetic sages, she lived some time in the 9th century but other than evidence of her romantic relationships through her poems in the 古今集, nothing is known for certain about her. She is the subject of many legends as a femme fatale who courted a large number of men, and who later wandered as a beggar when she became old and ugly. There are several famous Noh plays about her. It seems like the legends are inspired by this poem, which seems to express the sorrow of an old woman lamenting the time she wasted on useless romantic relationships.
Source: 古今集, 113, in the Spring volume. The preface is 題知らず.
One theory suggests that the literal meaning of the poem is the more important one, since it's included in the “spring” section of the 古今集. But other poems in the spring section have similar themes to this one. There is also no consensus on what いたづらに connects to.
A lot of the commentary on this poem involves the legends surrounding Ono no Komachi, as I said above.
Here's the last of the first 10 poems. Maybe I should stop here -- it seems like interest has dropped and the 10 poems provide at least a good overview of Japanese poetry.
これやこの kore ya kono
行くも帰るも yuku mo kaeru mo
別れては wakare-te ha
知るも知らぬも siru mo sira-nu mo
逢坂の関 ahusaka no seki
The grammar of this poem is a series of modifiers for 逢坂の関, which was a barrier gate between 近江（おうみ）の国 and 山城（やましろ）の国. It often appeared in poetry because it contained the word 逢う – while it's not true of this poem, often the gate (and the barrier guard) were used as metaphors for separation from a loved one. Although 逢坂 was pronounced おおさか in the Edo period, this name has no relation to 大阪.
これやこの: これや is essentially an exclamation, like “This is it!” この leads into the rest of the poem. This five-line opening appears in other poems of this nature, to essentially mean “This is that famous place X that they talk about!”
行くも帰るも別れては: The coming and going of travellers through the barrier gate, and they separate from each other. 行く, 帰る, and the next 知る and 知らぬ are all 連体形 forms that should be read as “people going”, “people returning”, etc.
I do not fully understand the grammar of the ては here; other sources give this line as 別れつつ which would mean that people are constantly separating from each other here.
知るも知らぬも: This connects to the 逢う in 逢坂; you can meet people here that you know and people that you don't yet know.
逢坂の関: See above.
Translation: This is it! The Oosaka barrier gate, where people separate as they go and return (to the capital), and where people meet others they know and others they don't know.
Author: 蝉丸（せみまる）. Possibly a 10th century poet but this is another figure that may be completely fictional; nothing is known about him other than what's in the prose preface to this poem, and some later legends. If the prose preface is accurate, he was a monk who lived near the Oosaka barrier gate.
Source: 後撰集, 1089, in the 雑一 (miscellaneous) volume. The prose preface is 逢坂の関に庵室をつくりて住み侍りけるに、行きかふ人を見て.
庵室（あんじつ or あんしつ）: A home of a monk who has retired from the world to pursue religious devotions.
侍り（はべり）: This is a humble suffix which can also be used as simply 丁寧語 (like modern です or ます).
に: This に is the 連用形 of the copula; here it basically just means “and”.
行きかふ: Coming and going.
This poem is somewhat unusual in that it doesn't deal with nature or love, but depicts the comings and goings, probably even of commoners, at a barrier gate. Some people have read this as a depicition of the Buddhist principle of 会者定離（えしゃじょうり）, the idea that because of the impermanence of the world, anyone you meet you will soon separate from.
I don't know why you think interest is dropping. This is a very interesting thread, and I hope you will keep posting.
You shouldn't drop. It is VERY valuable.