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Hyakunin Isshu-III


Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, also called Hyakunin Isshu, is an anthology of a 100 poems by 100 different poets. The poems are all "waka" (now called "tanka").
Waka are five-line poems of 31 syllables, arranged as 5, 7, 5, 7, 7. The waka represented in Hyakunin Isshu were court poetry, which almost exclusively used the waka format from the earliest days of Japanese poetry until the..seventeensyllable haiku came into prominence in the seventeenth century.

Hyakunin Isshu is said to have been compiled by>1:he famous thirteenth-century critic and poet Fujiwara no Sadaie (also known as Teika), though his son Fujiwara no Tameie may have had a hand in revising the collection. Teika also compiled a waka anthology called Hyakunin Shuka (Superior Poems of Our Time), which shares many of the same poems as Hyakunin Isshu. The hundred poems of . Hyakunin Isshu are in a rough chronological order from the seventh through the thirteenth centuries. The most famous poets through the late Heian period in Japan are represented.

Hyakunin Isshu has had an immense influence in Japan. In Donald Keene's phrase, the poems have "constituted the basic knowledge of Japanese poetry for most people from the early Tokugawa period until very recent times. This meant, in a real sense, that Teika was the arbiter of the poetic tastes of most Japanese even as late as the twentieth century." The influence of Hyakunin Isshu was particularly extended through the card game based on the collection, called uta karuta, played especially at New Year's day.

Among foreign critics and translators there have been differing opinions about the value of Hyakunin Isshu. Arthur Waley thought that the collection "is so selected as to display the least pleasing features of Japanese poetry. Artificialities of every kind abound." Kenneth Rexroth is more temperate: "[It] is a very uneven collection.
It contains some of the most mannered poetry of classical Japan, but it also contains some of the best." Donald Keene offers this summary: "It can hardly be pretended that all the poems deserve the immortality Teika bestowed on them, but many are fine poems, and his choices do no harm to his reputation as a critic."

"Poetry has its seed in the human heart and blossoms forth in innumerable leaves of words ... it is poetry which, with only a part of its power, moves heaven and earth,
 

Presanted by Dr. Angelee Deodhar

*

Oe no Masafusa
(1041-1111 )

On that far mountain
On the slope below the peak

Cherries are in flower.
Oh, let the mountain mists

Not arise to hide the scene.
dir="ltr">
**
Minamoto no Toshiyori
(1055-1129)

It was not for this
I prayed at the holy shrine:
That she would become

As pitiless and as cold
As the storms on Hase's hills.

***
Fujiwara no Mototoshi
(1060-1142)

As dew promises <
New life to the thirsty plant,
So did your vow to me.
Yet the year has passed away,

and autumn has come again.

****

Attendant to Empress Koka

After one brief night -
Short as a piece of the reeds

Growing in Naniwa bay
Must I forever long for him
With my whole heart, till life ends?

****
Princess Shokushi
(- -1201)

Like a string of gems
Grown weak, my life will break now;

For if I live on,
All I do to hide my love

May at last grow weak and fail.
dir="ltr">
*****
Attendant to Empress Inpu

Let me show him these!
Even the fishermen's sleeves

On Ojima's shores,
Though wet through and wet again,

Do not so change their colors.

*****

Fujiwara no letaka

(1158-1237)
To Nara's brook comes

Evening, and the rustling winds
Stir the oak-trees' leaves.
Not a sign of summer left
But the sacred bathing there.


******
Emperor Gotoba

(1180-1239)
For some men I grieve;

Some men are hateful to me;
And this wretched world
To me, with all my sadness,
 Is a place of misery.

 *****
Emperor Juntoku (1197-1242)

In this ancient house,

Paved with a hundred stones,
Ferns grow in the eaves;
But numerous as they are, <
My old memories are more.



 Translated by  Dr. Angelee Deodhar

 

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