[The Story of Hyakunin Isshu] No. 29: “The white chrysanthemum flower that folds in front of the heart and makes the window stand in the first frost” (Bonkouchi Mitsune)

No. 29: “A white chrysanthemum flower that folds in front of the heart and closes the window in the first frost” (Bonkouchi Mitsune)

Finally, the collector of ancient and modern works has appeared, and it is Mitsuko Bonkochi. There are three other composers of ancient and modern times, Tadashi Mibu, number 30, Tomonori Ki, number 33, and Tsurayuki Ki, number 35, as you may know, but Mitsune and Tsurayuki, in particular, are popular poets who divide this collection into two. In terms of number of entries, Tsuroyuki (102) and Mutsu (60) led to a one-two finish. It's a beautiful rivalry between Lennon and McCartney, but which one is actually better as a singer?

This theory of ``Kannomanko's superiority and inferiority'' has been included in lawsuits since ancient times, and there is also a passage*1 that talks about this in ``Mumyosho,'' a song theory by Kamo no Nagaaki. According to Chomei's singing teacher Toshie Hoshi, Fujiwara no Jibutsu and Fujiwara no Toshitada once argued over the superiority and inferiority of Mutsune and Tsurayuki. However, since the superiority and inferiority cannot be decided, I asked Shirakawain for his opinion, and he told me to ask Minamoto no Toshiyori. In response, Toshiyori said, ``I'm afraid I'll make a fool of you.''

It's amusing to see everyone running away from the controversy and giving answers to the master of the day, Toshiyori, but when it comes to the important question of victory or defeat, even Toshiyori is left speechless. However, it is important that he purposely added the phrase ``Mitsune o ba'', which suggests that there was a prevailing trend of Tsuneyuki at the time.

If you ask me the same question, I would definitely say that Tsuneyuki is the best poet. While all of the 100 or so poems that have been collected in ancient times and modern times have the appearance of being an imperial collection, there are some poor works among the 60 poems written by Mu Heng. However, when each of them brings their best skills to the test, Tsurayuki and Mu Heng compete perfectly. No, I think Mu Heng will win.
Tsurayuki thoroughly maintained the ancient and contemporary style in order to become the pillar of the Kokinshu, which is the so-called intelligent language technique. This is not necessarily the case with Miheng, who shines in songs that are outside the boundaries of the past and present, even though he is a master of the past and present. It was a song that relied on his own sensibilities, and that's what Manheng was truly an artist.

This is symbolized by the Hyakunin Isshu poem, which says, ``Shall I try to break it by hand by guessing, white chrysanthemum flowers that have become unrecognizable after the first frost?'' Generally speaking, the beauty of the white chrysanthemums, which are even more striking when covered with frost, is praised, but this song does not fall into such a trite category.

``Setsugekka''. It is no coincidence that all of these symbols of natural beauty are ``white.'' ``White'' has a special meaning for waka poetry and for Japanese beauty. This world of white and white, where white and white co-star and compete with each other, goes beyond aestheticism to the height of psychedelicism! Tsurayuki would never be able to create such rare art*2,3,4.

*1 “Mumeisho” (27th paragraph)
*2 “The darkness of the spring night is unbearable; the color of the plum blossoms is invisible, and the incense and the fragrance shine” (Bonkouchi Mitsuko)
*3 “The sky in the May rain with the eel singing close to the Japanese squirrel and her hair hanging down” (Mitsuko Bonkouchi)
*4 “Summer and autumn go by, and the path of the sky is filled with cool winds blowing on the other side.” (Bonkouchi Mitsune)

(Written by Uchida Engaku, a poet)

List of “Hyakunin Isshu Stories”

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