An episode of Maria-sama ga miteru, an anime set in a Catholic girls’ school, prompted an interesting discussion.

Sushuri Madonna wrote:

I was struck by the lovely song that was sung in the closing scenes, as Sachiko-san told Yumi-san that she would certainly become her soeur: “Maria-sama no kokoro” (Lady Mary’s heart). Yumi-san comments on the fact that Maria-sama’s heart is compared to a sapphire. The other comparisons she can understand, but not this one.

In our discussion, I mentioned that the sapphire belongs to Sai Thamë. And that the love of Dea as Thamë – the Golden Order: the Azure Principle that binds each link in the Chain of Roses in love and obedience – is the great theme of the anime. The title sequence stresses the comeliness and orderliness of the “Garden of Maidens”, how neatness and harmony in dress, demeanour and movement are all-important.

Fascinated by this thought, I looked up the song and found a tentative translation of three of its five verses. I later found a score of the song and amended the translation and attempted a translation of my own of the remaining verses (three and four) – it is fortunately quite simple. Here it is:

Score

I give it to you, with my transliteration and translation. If any of our Japanese-speakers have any corrections, please post them here! I have broken it into lines like a Western-style song-verse so that you can follow it more easily when you hear it sung in the show. Note that each syllable corresponds precisely to a beat of the tune, even when the syllables are adjacent vowels:

Maria-sama no kokoro
Sore(h)wa aozora
Watashitachi (w)o tsutsumu
Hiroi aozora

Maria-sama’s heart
That blue sky
We are enfolded
By the wide blue sky.

Maria-sama no kokoro
Sore(h)wa kashi no ki
Watashitachi (w)o mamoru
Tsuyoi kashi no ki

Maria-sama’s heart
That oak tree
We are protected
By the mighty oak.

Maria-sama no kokoro
Sore(h)wa uguisu
Watashitachi to utau
mori no uguisu

Maria-sama’s heart
That nightingale
We sing with
The woodland nightingale.

Maria-sama no kokoro
Sore(h)wa yamayuri
Watashitachi mo hoshii
Shiroi yamayuri

Maria-sama’s heart
That mountain-lily
We too desire
The white mountain lily.

Maria-sama no kokoro
Sore(h)wa safaia
Watashitachi (w)o kazaru
Hikaru safaia

Maria-sama’s heart
That sapphire
We are adorned by
The shining sapphire.

The translation is very literal and intended to help you appreciate the Japanese even if you do not know the language at all.

What struck me about this song (I am not sure if it was written for the show – I get the impression it is an independent Marian hymn) is the fact that each of the images, with the exception of the mountain-lily, is explicitly and archetypally one of the primary symbols of Sai Thamë. The canopy of the blue sky has been seen as the manifestation of the Thamë-stream since the dawn of history (in Aristasia it is especially associated with Sai Thamë in her ancient Ouranya form). The oak – the lightning-tree – is the tree of Sai Thamë par excellence. Singing and music are ruled by Sai Thamë, as is the nightingale, and the sapphire of course, is Sai Thamë’s jewel.

The lily belongs usually to the Daughter (and thus to Sai Candrë), though the mountain association gives it a Thamic element. The Council of Roses is called the Yamayurikai (Mountain Lily Society) and the school is the Lilian academy. The lily is taken in Japan as a symbol of love between girls, and in fact productions that feature feminine affection (like MariMite itself) are termed yuri (lily) as a genre.

It seems to me (though I am no thealogian) that there is no reason why an Aristasian should not sing this hymn in its entirety. It is a hymn to Dea as Sai Thamë and thus to the Eternal Harmony of the Golden Order that She rules.

And that – it seems to me – despite the fact that the protagonists are young and (as all humans are) fallible – is the deepest theme of this beautiful series.

Lieutenant Fiona Gregoire commented:

Quote:
Maria-sama no kokoro
Sore(h)wa safaia
Watashitachi (w)o kagiru
Hikaru safaiaMaria-sama’s heart
That sapphire
We are adorned by
The shining sapphire.

I think you meant ‘kazaru’ (to adore), rather than ‘kagiru’ (to limit).

Lady Mary’s heart, ’tis blue sky;
the blue sky that enfolds us.

Lady Mary’s heart, ’tis oak tree;
the mighty oak tree that defends us.

Lady Mary’s heart, ’tis uguisu; (1)
the forest uguisu that sings with us.

Lady Mary’s heart, ’tis mountain lily;
the white mountain lily that we long for.

Lady Mary’s heart, ’tis sapphire; (2)
the shining sapphire that adorns us.

1. A warbler, often mistaken for a nightingale. Unlike a nightingale, an uguisu does not sing at night.
2. It is worth noting that one of the ancient names of what is now Infraquirinelle (i.e. Lower Quirinelle, the island off the western Quirinelle coast) was Isle of Sapphire, though through a chain of sad incidents in a relative recent century caused the somewhat disparaging ‘infra’ to be in a preferred use by mainland dwellers.

Miss Sarah Newchurch commented:

Quote:
The lily belongs usually to the Daughter (and thus to Sai Candrë), though the mountain association gives it a Thamic element. The Council of Roses is called the Yamayurikai (Mountain Lily Society) and the school is the Lilian academy. The lily is taken in Japan as a symbol of love between girls, and in fact productions that feature feminine affection (like MariMite itself) are termed yuri (lily) as a genre

From a heraldic standpoint, a lily is often confused with (or interchangeable with) an iris. For example, the symbol of a fleur-de-lis (from French, lit. flower of lily; compare with the national emblem of Trent) was indeed a stylization of an iris. Traditionally, the three petals of an iris represented faith, valour and wisdom, and also being a symbol of a bridge between heaven and earth, or between this world and the other-world (as with rainbow), is a Thamic symbol as well as being Candric. Iris also represents the nexus between water and air elements.

Sushuri Madonna responded:

Thank you all so much for your help and corrections and for the finer translation.

Yes, of course it should have been kazaru “to adorn or ornament” and not kagiru “to limit”. It is clearly kazaru in the printed score above. I apologise for my silly mistranscription.

I noticed also that I somehow managed to edit out the “with” in my translation of the third verse. I originally wrote “We sing with the woodland nightingale”. But of course that was wrong. It is She who sings with us. Silly me again.

Just out of interest, I said “we too desire the white mountain lily”, and your better translation is “the white mountain lily that we long for”. My “too” was of course the “mo” in the original. What does the “mo” actually mean there? Is it just emphatic?

Miss Newchurch, thank you for your comments on the lily/iris. Of course this emblem on the Trentish flag is quintessentially Thamic, so it gives a strong Thamic element also to the mountain-lily reference. How fascinating.

Thank you so much, Honoured Lieutenant Fiona, for the information about the prehistory of Infraquirinelle. It is always wonderful to learn more about the Motherland’s history. “Infra” is a bit disparaging, but I always think of it as friendly. I know these things can annoy residents though – like the Westrennes who visit in Chen Avitsene and refer to it rather twee-ly as “Chen”, which annoys Westrenne-speaking Avitseneans like anything.

See also:

The Heart of Dea

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