(Hikaremono no kouta; “The ballad of someone being pulled along”)
Putting on a brave face in the face of despair; refusing to admit defeat in a seemingly impossible situation; defiant confidence against overwhelming odds. Like someone condemned for a crime, singing on the way to the execution grounds (while seated on a horse that is being led along).
We begin with the verb 引く (hiku), “to pull” among other uses, in passive form. This attaches to and modifies the noun 者 (mono), “person.” This noun phrase is connected by the associative particle の (no) to the noun 小唄 (kouta), literally “small song.” The term by extension can also refer to a ditty, a ballad, singing to oneself, or even to humming.
A variant replaces 小唄 with 鼻歌 (hanauta), literally “nose-song” but in practical terms, humming.
(“Kenri wo ubawarete mo, inochi made odokasarete mo, hikaremono no kouta no you ni nanige nasasou ni ooyake ni tsudzukete arawareru kanojo tachi wa baka na no ka, dare yori mo isamashii hito tachi na no ka, watashi ni wa wakarimasen.”)
[“Even with their rights being taken away, even with their very lives being threatened, these women continued appearing in public and acting as if nothing were out of the ordinary, like whistling to the gallows. I really don’t know whether they’re idiots, or braver than anybody and everybody else.”]