[The Story of Hyakunin Isshu] No. 83: ``Even in the depths of the mountain where I think there is no way in this world, I can hear the deer crying.'' (Emperor Empress Dowager Toshinari)

No. 83: ``Even in the depths of the mountains where I think there is no way in this world, I can hear the deer crying'' (Emperor Empress Toshinari)

Speaking of Toshinari, it goes without saying that he was a major figure in the poetic world at the end of the Heian period. Under Goshirakawa, he compiled the ``Senzai Wakashu,'' and under Gotoba, he composed ``Sengohyakuban Utago Hyakushu.'' We have created an era that we can be proud of. Toshinari advocated a return to Kokinshu, and his elegant and dignified style of poetry trained his son Teika, Imperial Princess Shikiko, Fujiwara Yoshitsune, Ietaka, and Jakuren, and gave birth to the rare art of ``Shin-Kokin'' in the next generation. Ta. Without Toshinari, the literary art of waka would have long since died out, even in the middle and early modern periods. In many ways, Toshinari was the godfather of waka history.

The road to that glory was not a smooth one. Although he became a member of the Sutokuin's poetry circle and was selected as a member of the prestigious ``Kyuan Hyakushu,'' he lost his position in Emperor Nijo's poetry circle after the collapse of the school's poetry circle, as Fujiwara Seisuke was given more important positions, and he was re-elected to the next Goshirakawa Academy. Although his power in the court poetry circle weakened due to the fall of his pupil Kanezane Kujo in the political change of 1980, he still persevered, and in his final years, he performed at the Kujuga banquet from Gotoba-in. I received the highest honor as a poet.

Perhaps because of these twists and turns, Toshinari's thoughts are strongly influenced by Buddhism. The symbol of this is the poetry treatise ``Kokorafutaisho,'' which he wrote to Imperial Princess Shikiko, in which he compares the way of poetry to ``Tendai Shikan'' and explains it.

``Now, even if I talk about the deep path of poetry, it is similar to the three truths of emptiness, temporary, and middle, so I am an expert and write it down.''
ancient style style

I think everyone understood the concept of "impermanence" in waka poetry, but Toshinari was unique in connecting it so directly to Buddhism as a doctrine. By the way, the ``three truths'' (enyu three truths) are the idea that ``all beings have no substance but melt into each other,'' and Toshinari used this idea to refer to the ``lyrics'' and ``heart'' of a song. By comparing these elements, he explained that the essence of poetry lies in the ``style of wind'' that was subdued, and used this as the basis for expressing complex aesthetic aspects such as ``yūgen'' and ``gloss.''

Now, let's talk about Hyakunin Isshu.
``There is no way to escape in this world. Even deep in the mountains where you enter while worrying about the world, you can hear the sad voice of a deer.''

It is said that this poem was written by Toshinari when he was 27 or 8 years old, at the same time that Saigyo and his friends became monks. The anxiety in the song is probably the anxiety of his life, which is in a state of groping. Although it is a song about a world gone by, it shows a circular structure in which the end begins at the same time, and here we can already see the idea of the Three Truths of Enyu. Regardless of his life history, Toshinari originally had a deep resonance with Buddhist thought.

(Written by Uchida Engaku, a poet)

List of “Hyakunin Isshu Stories”

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季刊誌「和歌文芸」
令和六年冬号(Amazonにて販売中)

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