Waka poems representing the Tale of the Heike (Minamoto no Yorimasa, Taira Tadayoshi, Kenreimonin)

You probably know that many waka poems are composed in the love stories of the Heian period, such as ``The Tale of Genji'' and ``The Tale of Ise.'' Most of these works are structured like poetry stories, and the poems are so important that the stories themselves cannot exist without them.

By the way, you might think that there is no place for elegant waka poems in the military chronicle of ``The Tale of the Heike,'' which is said to have been created during the Kamakura period.
There is a difference! Although not very often, waka poems are still recited in The Tale of the Heike.
Love and war. Although the themes are completely different, the underlying ``view of impermanence'' is common, and the best expression of this is ``waka.''

This time, we would like to introduce three notable poets and their songs from The Tale of the Heike.

Minamoto no Yorimasa

If you are a fan of waka poetry, there are probably few people who don't know his name: Minamoto no Yorimasa.
He was a famous poet whose 59 poems were included in the imperial anthology, and he is an attractive person with great literary and martial arts who would have been extremely popular if his poems had been included in the Hyakunin Isshu.

→Related article “An amazing poet who wasn't selected for Hyakunin Isshu! Men's edition (Ikura Yamagami, Emperor Hanayama, Yorimasa Minamoto)

As Homoto, Yorimasa overcame the Heiji War as a victor, and rose to the high position of third rank in the Taira clan, despite being a member of the Minamoto clan. This may have been due to the honor of valor as in ``Slaying the Nue'', but the ``begging'' through song was a great success.

Only when you are old enough to compose a poem of your own, which I will discuss later, can you announce your ascension to the palace.

“I wonder if the mountain keeper of Mt. Ouchi can see the moon hidden in the trees?” (Minamoto no Yorimasa)

Because of this song, I was allowed to ascend to the temple, and for a while I was placed in the position of 4th rank under the lower rank, while thinking about the rank of 3rd rank.

``If I have no message to ascend, will I pick it up under a tree and cross the world?'' (Minamoto no Yorimasa)

Well, let's take third place. Eventually, he became a priest and entered the Minamoto Sanmi (Gensanmi) rank, reaching the age of 75 this year.
(Heike Monogatari Volume 4 Nue)

The songs sung here all appeal to their own misfortunes. In the second song, ``shii'' is multiplied by ``shii'' and ``shii.'' Even under the samurai government, the roundabout style of direct appeals has not changed. These songs were successful, and Yorimasa was able to rise to Jusanmi (Jusanmi) and be ranked as a court noble.

However, Yorimasa did not want to end his life in peace under the Heike government. He carried out Prince Mochihito, the son of Emperor Goshirakawa, and received the edict to overthrow the Heike clan, and plotted a rebellion.

I am horrified by what Yorimasa, the Minamotosan-rank Nyudo, secretly came to this palace one night and told me. The Emperor was appointed as the 78th generation of Amaterasu Omikami by the 48th orthodox Emperor Jimmu. If so, I am sure that He must have thought that He was saddened by the fact that He should have been made to go to the palace immediately, even to the rank of Crown Prince. He hastened to provoke a rebellion and destroy the Heike family, and the Emperor, who had imprisoned him in Toba-no-dono and sent him across the country, should be at peace, and he should be able to bring you to the throne as well.
(Heike Monogatari Vol. 4 Genji Complete)

However, the plan was exposed, and a small group of people raised an army, quickly finding themselves in a predicament.
The location was Uji Byodo-in Temple, and Yorimasa barely managed to escape from his palace (King Mochihito), but he himself was so badly injured that he committed suicide.

He must have known that if he summoned the Third Rank Nyudo, Watanabe Choshichi, and told him to strike my head, he would be acting out the sadness of having to strike the Lord's head. If you have committed suicide, then you will have to pay for it, so I turned to the west, put my hands together, and chanted ten thoughts in a loud voice.The last words are pitiful. .

``It's sad to see the end of the tree without even blooming.'' (Minamoto no Yorimasa)

(Heike Monogatari Vol. 4 Miyago's final moments)

Since he rose to the rank of Junior Third Rank, it can be said that his life was one of great blossoming. However, for Yorimasa, the regret of not being able to fulfill his duty as a Genji was many times greater.
By the way, Miya was hit by an enemy's arrow and died while fleeing. It seems like there are dark clouds hanging over Genji's future...

Taira Tadanori

There was also a warrior on the Heike side who was good at singing, Taira Tadanori.
Tadanori is said to have studied under Taira no Kiyomori's younger half-brother, Fujiwara Toshinari, so we can see how passionate he was about singing.

The appeal of The Tale of the Heike is the richness of its characters.“Yoritomo should cut off his head and hang it in front of my grave.”Taira no Kiyomori died in anger,"Put this on and go."Shunkan Sozu, Minamoto no Yoshitsune, who hurriedly begged Minamoto no Yoshitsune to return to Kyoto.“Maybe the best Karasuko in Japan.”There are many strong-willed people depicted, such as Kajiwara Kagetoki, who cursed him.
Tadanori is one of them. When we think of warriors and poets, the first thing that comes to mind is Yorimasa, but while Yorimasa is an old master, Tadanori is depicted as a somewhat unique person with a long history of elegance.

He sent a kosode to the Satsuma no kami, his wife, and wrote a poem about the regrets of Senri.

``The dew on the hem of the sleeve is spreading through the leaves of Azumaji.'' (Wife)

In response to Satsuma no kami,

``Let's think of the crossroads that we cross without any regrets as a trace of the past.'' (Taira Taira)

The fact that Seki can be said to be a trace of the past sounds very kind, as it reminds me of my ancestor, Taira Shogun Sadamori Masakado, who went down to Azuma to hunt down his ancestor Masakado Sadamori.
(Heike Monogatari Volume 5 Fujikawa)

In a similar vein, he left behind a gift of a song to a certain wife as a way of saying goodbye to him when he went off to war.
Tadanori tries to tell the woman, "Don't worry!", but in reality...

Late that night, I was surprised to see so many waterfowl in the Fuji swamp, but they stood strong all at once. If you could hear the sound of a thunderous wind, the Heike soldiers would say, ``Ah, the Genji crowd is on the other side, and as Saito Betto said yesterday, they are going around from the hem of Kai-Shinano to the front. I'm like an enemy. Let's fall from here and prevent Owari Kawasumata.'' I didn't even bother to take anything and just fell to the ground.
(Heike Monogatari Volume 5 Fujikawa)

Mistaking the sound of the waterfowl taking flight as a large flock of Genji clans, Tadanori and the Heike army fled back in a panic.

However, Taira Taira's passion for singing is unmatched.

If in future generations there will be a collection of imperial edicts, there will be no one left in the scroll, but even if it is just one poem, I will be happy even in the shadows of the grass because of your grace. Defense is the only way to protect yourself. There was a scroll in which over 100 poems of what appeared to be great poems had been collected in a collection of poems that had been placed there, and now when I was about to be attacked, I would take this and carry it with me. It was taken out of the cellar and offered to Lord Toshinari.
(Heike Monogatari Vol. 7 Tadanori Miyakoro)

When the Heike family finally fled the capital, Tadanori met his master of poetry, Fujiwara Toshinari, and begged him to somehow include his own songs in the event that the world was at peace and an imperial anthology was to be compiled. I entrusted him with a collection of his own poems.

Three years after the fall of the Heike clan (Battle of Dannoura), Toshinari compiled the ``Senzai Wakashu''.

After that, the world died down and the Sensai Shu was compiled, but if it is sad to remember the old words of Tadanori now, there are many poems that should not be included in the scroll. If you were a person of imperial ancestry, you would compose a poem with the title ``Flower of your hometown'' without revealing your surname.

``The capital of Sazanami and Shiga is Arenishi, an old-fashioned wild cherry tree.'' (Taira Taira)

Even though I had become an enemy of his own family, even though it didn't go far enough, I still held a grudge against him.
(Heike Monogatari Vol. 7 Tadanori Miyakoro)

Toshinari wrote a poem here as a ``flower of his hometown.'' Although it was treated as a ``Yomijin Shirazu'', it is true that Tadanori's poems were included in the imperial collection.
Even though the capital has fallen into disrepair, the wild cherry blossoms remain unchanged. As a waka fan, this is an episode that I can't talk about without crying.

Now Tadanori Taira, who left the capital, had a sad ending.

What a good general he was, and he looked up at the enemy and said, ``Is it true that you are forcing the enemy to see your back? Let me return it to you. This is for you.'' If you look at the inner shell, it becomes ``iron black''. Those who attach iron to Atsupare no Okata pretend that they are not there, but they force the princes of the Heike family to come to their aid and force them side by side.
(Heike Monogatari Vol. 9 Tadanori's last moments)

Tadashi tries his best to stay safe. The enemy, Tadazumi Okabe, spots this and shouts, ``Are you going to show your back to the enemy? Come back! I have a point of view!'' Tadanori was completely fooled by this, and when he turned around, there was a splendid ``tetsukokuro'' (black tooth) in his mouth! This made it known that he was a Heike lord, and he was captured and beheaded.

It was a very pitiful ending, not only for him to lose in a fair fight, but also for him to be killed after being found out to be a high-ranking member of the Heike family due to his black teeth. If this is fiction, the author of The Tale of the Heike must be quite a cynic.

Rokuyata approaches from behind and takes the head of Satsuma no kami. No one knows his name, even though he thought he was praying for the death of a good general, but if you look at the text tied to the quiver, you will find that he has composed a poem with the title ``Travelling Flower.''

``If you go to the end of your day and take shelter in the shadow of a tree, you'll be better off with flowers and tonight.'' (Tadanori Taira)

You should know that Satsuma no kami is because he can fight.
(Heike Monogatari Vol. 9 Tadanori's last moments)

Since the song ``Tabiyado Hana'' is connected to the quiver, we know that this lord is Tadanori.
It was a pitiful death for a samurai, but Tadanori maintained his style until the end, saying, ``At least I want to die under flowers.''

Kenreimon-in Temple

Kenreimonin (Tirako Tokuko) was the daughter of Taira no Kiyomori, and a woman who could be considered a key figure in the Taira no Takamori who entered the court of Emperor Takakura and gave birth to Emperor Antoku.
Compared to The Tale of Genji, the Tale of the Heike, which is a military chronicle, has very few characters, let alone women, who compose poems. There are only a few songs written by Kenreimonin in his works, but perhaps that is why each poem resonates so profoundly. It's like the bell of Gion Shosha.

After losing the battle of Dan-no-ura, the Heike family finally fell into ruin.
“Even beneath the waves there is a capital.”, Emperor Antoku, who was brought from the capital, entered the water with his second nun (Taira Tokiko). Kenreimonin also jumped into the sea in pursuit of his child and mother, but narrowly survived and was sent back to the capital.

The ``Kanchomaki'' of The Tale of the Heike depicts Kenreimonin, who became a priest and spent the rest of his life in Ohara.

The grass is deep in the garden and the eaves are overgrown. With the blinds closed, there is no way to stand the rain and wind. The flowers have various scents, but there is no one to ask for their master, and the moon is brought in every night, but there is no one to sing and reveal the moon.
(omitted)
To remember the past, I placed a transplant of the original owner, and the wind of orange blossoms smelled nostalgic near the eaves.If you can believe it, you can believe the sound of the mountain bird's two and three voices.Even though it is an old thing, it is a good thing. He comes out and plays with the lid of the inkstone.

``If you don't stop smelling the scent of hototogisu flower and tachibana, you will miss someone from the past.'' (Kenreimonin)

(Heike Monogatari Kacho Scroll: Nyoin-noun)

The life of the once prosperous capital seems like a lie, and it's a fallen place.
In waka poetry, ``Hototogisu'' and ``Hanatachibana'' are motifs that remind us of an old lover, but what Kenreimonin admires is the smiles of the members of the Heike clan.

At that time, Cloistered Emperor Goshirakawa asked. By the way, the Pope is Kenreimonin's father-in-law.
Seeing Kenreimonin in a more shabby state than he had imagined, the Pope continued to shed tears.

Indeed, it was a pain to descend from the mountain above, along the rocky path of two nuns wearing deep ink dyed clothes. When the Pope saw him and said, ``Who is that?'', the old nun suppressed her tears and said, ``I will take you to Iwatsutsutsuchi Uchisoe on Hanakkoji. Funari.”
(omitted)
I'm sure the Pope felt pity for him and forced him to choke back his tears.
(Miyuki Ohara of the Tale of the Heike)

Although Kenreimonin is ashamed of himself, he does his best to reunite with In.
He left behind two waka poems.

Before you know it, the lady will remember the past and call you out. She will make you block your cuffs from your unbearable tears. She will see you in the distance, and you will gradually postpone your return. He made them face the principal image and prayed, ``The Son of Heaven, the Holy Spirit, and the departed souls have attained the Bodhi of True Awakening.''
(omitted)
In the Onna-in, two poems are played by the shoji screen.

``These days, my heart always misses the Grand Shrine'' (Kenreimonin)
``If it becomes a dream or something happens, it will be like the eaves of a bamboo screen door.'' (Kenreimonin)

(Miyuki Ohara of the Tale of the Heike)

Both songs are great songs that remember the past.
However, although it is rude, the usage of the words and phrases from the screen door to the ``eaves'' (eaves, long) is a bit strange.

And finally the last scene.

If you can believe in the two voices and three voices of Orisetsuyama and Tokito, we will continue to pray together for the joys and sorrows of the coming and the future.

“If it’s time to say goodbye, I’ll wipe away my tears. I’m also sad, and I won’t pray for the world.” (Kenreimonin)

(omitted)
In the end, I believe that the dragon woman will follow in the footsteps of Seikaku and that everyone will be able to attain the essence of rebirth, just like Mrs. Wei Daiki.
(Miyuki Ohara of the Tale of the Heike)

At the end of his tearful song with Hototogisu, he leaves the sorrowful world and enters the Pure Land.
This is the ending of the Tale of the Heike.

Although I only listened to a few poems by only three people, I think I was able to feel the sense of impermanence that underlies The Tale of the Heike.
With that in mind, please take a look at the famous phrase at the beginning that everyone has heard at least once.

The sound of the bell of Gion Shosha echoes the eternal nature of all things. Reveals the principle of the inevitable decline of those who flourish with the flowers of the sarah tree. It hasn't been long since people have been able to afford something, and it's just like a dream on a spring night. Even the fiercest ones will never perish.They are like dust before the wind.
(Heike Monogatari Volume 1 Gion Shosha)

I think that the complaints, which were just old, beautiful sentences, now seem to have a lot of weight to them.
Abstract ideas such as impermanence are better conveyed in waka than in prose, as they can be implied through symbolic motifs.
Please take a look at more of the Tale of the Heike and its waka poems.

(Written by Uchida Engaku, a poet)

Learn the basics of waka poetry and try reciting it!

We are holding a "Utajuku" with the goal of learning from representative classical works and being able to compose traditional "Waka" on an individual basis!

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