Learn about the battle between impurity and aesthetics, and the lamentations of Kokinshu.

The greatest feature of the imperial collections of waka poems, including the Kokinshu, is that they have two major themes: seasonal songs and love songs, and that they are arranged in an orderly manner over time. However, the truth is that this ``aesthetics'' is not spread throughout the entire poetry collection. For example, although Kaga, Antabiga, and Miscellaneous songs are roughly divided into small groups within each department, they are not grouped together based on time. However, there is only one section other than the four seasons and love that retains the aesthetics of an imperial collection, the ``Lamentations''.

Lamentations are songs composed to mourn the death of a person, and the Kokinshu contains 34 of them. There are 342 seasonal poems and 360 love poems, so their relative weight is not very large, but since they also include poems commemorating the emperor and the grand minister of the time, their significance was naturally great. That's probably true.
Now, regarding the time division of the dirge, it can be broadly divided into three parts: ``burial,'' ``mourning,'' and ``reminiscence of days gone by.'' This time, let's take a look at excellent poems in each of the three categories above from the Kokin Wakashu's Lamentations.

burial song

A night chant to send the former Grand Minister of State to the Shirakawa area.
830 “Shirakawa, where the tears of blood fall, shall be in the name of you and the world.” (Sose Hoshi)

The term ``Former Daijo Minister'' in the text refers to Fujiwara Yoshifusa, who was the first vassal to rise to the position of regent after the Jowa Incident. Since it says ``to send'', it is a song that was composed for Nobe Okuri.
Shirakawa was your name until you were alive, but now it is dyed red with tears of blood. This is a dirge with a strong contrast between white and red, and the composer is Sose Hoshi. By the way, the exaggerated expression "tears of blood" comes from Chinese poetry.

When Horikawa went to take care of the former Dajo Minister, he woke up after sleeping in the mountains of Fukakusa.
832 “If you have a heart for the cherry blossoms in the fields of Fukakusa, bloom in ink dye this year” (Miao Ueno)
The former Daijo Minister in this song is Yoshifusa's son Mototsune. The word ``awake'' in the lyrics implicitly refers to burial.
Cherry blossoms in the fields of Fukakusa, if you have a heart, bloom in black this year! As you may have guessed, sumizome is the color of mourning clothes. It is quite a poem, asking for ink-colored mourning against the pure white cherry blossoms.

I read this when Tomonori Kiyoshi is arrested.
838 “Today, while I am lost in thought and I don’t know about tomorrow, there are only people” (Ki Tsurayuki)

As the lyrics suggest, this is Tsurayuki's lament for Tomonori, one of the Kokinshu selectors. The fact that this poem is included in the Kokinshu means that Tomonori passed away without seeing the completion of the first Imperial Selected Wakashu.
I don't even know what tomorrow will bring, but that person passed away before the end of today. To add to their sadness, Tomonori and Tsurayuki were not only team members in this historic project, but also cousins.

mourning song

Look at the flowers on the shore of the pond in the darkness and read them
845 “The color of the flowers on the surface of the water is just like you or Mikage.” (Takamura)

Your face is clearly visible, just as you can clearly see a flower submerged in water.
The word ``Ryoya'' in the lyrics means that the emperor or the country is in mourning. Even today, the culture of mourning remains strong, but it is said to have started in the Heian period, when people began to think of death as impurity.

At the time of the Emperor of Fukakusa, he was disgusted by the rituals that were held night and day at Kurodokashira, so he climbed Mt. Hiei and lowered his head in an even more unworldly manner (omitted).
847 “Let all of you be clothed with flowers, and let your moss dry up.” (Sōjō Hensho)

This lyrics and song tell a story. The Emperor of Fukakusa was Emperor Ninmyo, and the poet Hensho served Emperor Ninmyo night and day as a head clerk during his time as a layman. After the Emperor died, Hensho climbed Mt. Hiei within a week and bowed down, in other words, renounced the world and became a monk.
It seems that everyone in the world has changed to wearing flower-colored clothes. My moss is soaked with tears, I want you to at least dry it. From the lyrics and the song, it is painfully clear that Hensho had a deep respect for Emperor Ninmyo.

Reminiscences of days gone by

The Master looks at the plum blossoms in the house of someone who is close to him and reads them.
851 “I miss the shadows of those who still plant flowers in the same depth of color and fragrance as before” (Ki Tsurayuki)

It's a simple song that doesn't need a proper translation, but don't you feel some deep feelings in it? Remember that Hyakunin Isshu song by Tsurayuki!

42 "People don't even know their hearts, but the flowers in their hometown make them smile at the scent of the past."
This song was also taken in the spring of the Kokinshu, and the ``Aruji'' who appears in the lyrics of both poems must be the same person. The owner of Ume no Yado, who once joked about his change of heart, is still the same, but he has become empty and only his face is remembered. If you are a waka fan, this is a poem that will bring tears to your eyes.

After taking care of the Minister of the Left, Kawahara, I went to his house and saw how he was able to create the appearance of a place called Shiogama.
852 “I wonder if Shiogama-no-ura looks so lonely now that the smoke is gone” (Ki Tsurayuki)

It goes without saying that Minister of the Left Kawahara is Minamoto Toru. As written in the poem, he built a garden in his residence (Kawahara-in) that resembles the scenic Shiogama in Mutsu. This Kawara-in Temple is said to be the model for Hikaru Genji's harem Rokujo-in Temple, which appears in The Tale of Genji.
The song describes the ephemeral nature of a luxurious mansion that has lost its owner.

Extra Edition Approaching one's own death

861 “I have heard of the road to Tsuhi for a long time, but I never thought it was yesterday or today” (Narihira Ariwara)

All of the songs we have introduced so far are condolences for others, but some of the songs for mourning are similar to so-called death poems, which are poems written in preparation for one's own death.
I had no idea that I would be walking down this deadly path someday, just yesterday. Narihira has many frivolous songs, but songs like this one move me emotionally. Even if we are exposed to the death of many people, in a sense it is always someone else's death, and we never think that it will happen to us. Like Narihira's poems on the verge of death, it's something that finally sinks in as yesterday approaches today. By the way, this song is listed in the final 125th paragraph of Ise Monogatari.

Now, don't you feel a certain emotion when you watch the lamentations of the Kokinshu like this? The fundamental question is whether we are offering sincere condolences at the time of a person's death.

Please take a look at a poem by the Chinese and Tang poet Bai Rakuten, which he wrote on the occasion of his daughter's death ("Weeping During Sickness: Jinluanzi").

``Tears of compassion raise the voice of sorrow and misfortune.''
Tears are gushing out in both voices, and my insides feel like they're going to be torn to pieces with sadness.
(Kinranzi crying during illness Haku Rakuten)

In addition, Hitomaro Kakimoto, the representative Manyo poet, upon the death of his wife,

``My little sister's sleeves are shaking as she calls me by name.''
There was nothing I could do, so I just kept waving my sleeves, calling out my wife's name.
(Kakimoto Hitomaro wrote two poems in tears and mourning after his wife died)

The lyrics convey a deep sense of sadness. When compared to them, don't you feel that the lamentations of Kokonshu poets, who never let go of their flowers, seem somehow bland and frivolous?

One reason for this may be the idea of ``impurity.'' During the Heian period, Buddhist thought took root, and the idea that death was impurity became commonplace. One of the reasons for this is thought to be that elegies (elegies), which were the second largest genre after miscellaneous and somon in the Manyoshu, which contain songs from the Asuka-Nara period, have become less prominent in the Kokinshu and later imperial collections. Masu. Coupled with this, the word ``death'', which was directly described in the lyrics in the Manyoshu, was avoided after the Kokinshu and was expressed in extremely euphemistic ways, such as ``to disappear,'' ``to hide,'' ``to disappear,'' and so on. It's a word like "lose."
In the first place, the Chosenshu itself was a ``hare'' collection of poems, and in post-Heian period waka poetry, dirges had become a genre that was ``difficult to sing''.

Furthermore, as I mentioned at the beginning, the Kokinshu and other imperial anthologies were compiled with an ``aesthetics'' in mind. ``Temporal transition'' is the means to achieve this, and the purpose is to reproduce beauty itself.
I will explain what kind of beauty the Kokinshu sought for on another occasion, but the elegies in the Kokinshu are the result of a delicate balance achieved through the conflict between ``impurity'' and ``aesthetics.'' It was.

(Written by: Waka DJ Ucchi)

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