Michizane Sugawara ~In A Silent Way where the lips of tragedy blow~

The memorable 20th poet in this list of ten poets is Michizane Sugawara.
Michizane is famous for being enshrined at Tenmangu Shrines in various places, including Dazaifu, as the God of Tenjin and the god of learning.
Because of the tragic outcome of his life, his name remains among the so-called ``Japan's Three Great Vengeful Ghosts''. *By the way, the other two are "Sutokuin" and "Taira no Masakado"
→Related article “Sutokuin ~Somewhere other than here~

Although he is more well-known than the heavyweights of the waka world, such as ``Ki Tsurayuki'' and ``Fujiwara no Sadaie,'' his poems are probably little known.
Except for the one at the bottom...
“If the east wind blows, make the scent of plum blossoms, without the Lord, don’t forget spring” (Michizane Sugawara)

Although Michizane was an elite scholar known as a Doctor of Literature (a great teacher of Chinese poetry), he was appointed by Emperor Uda and rose to the rank of Minister of the Right, an extremely elite bureaucrat and politician.
Emperor Uda had so much trust in Michizane that even when he abdicated the throne, he asked his successor, Emperor Daigo, to give Michizane an important position.
By the way, this song was also included in Hyakunin Isshu.

``This time, I won't even take a note. Mt. Temukai, the brocade of autumn leaves, is in the presence of the gods.'' (Michizane Sugawara)
This poem was recited by Michizane as a prayer for the safety of Emperor Uda during his visit.
You can see that they had a close relationship where they respected each other and needed each other.

However, this eventually caused resentment from other clans, including the Fujiwara clan.
There is no need to go into detail about how he was accused by the Minister of the Left, Fujiwara Tokihira, for ``trying to make the father and son (Uda and Emperor Daigo) defect from each other because of his ambitions for autocratic power'' and was demoted to Dazaifu (the Shoyasu Incident). .
It is said that the aforementioned ``East wind blows...'' was composed by Michizane when he left Kyoto.

Michizane Sugawara, who had a complete turn from prosperity, was exiled to a remote area and died in despair. This story turned out to be a tragedy.
Michizane is most often talked about in this context, including the Great Mirror (Fujiwara Tokihira) and the Shinkokinshu (Zoshita). The still popular play ``Sugawara Denju Handshukan'' was created based on this story.

However, it would be a waste to talk about Michizane just by talking about it!
Michizane left behind many wonderful haiku as a poet and Chinese ``poet.''
This time, I would like to focus on Michizane's Chinese poetry rather than Japanese poetry.

Michizane's haiku are plain and elegant, and are characterized by a style that is reminiscent of ``Japanese White Rakuten''.
However, that is not surprising, as Michizane is said to have quoted many of the poems from Hakurakuten's poetry collection.

"White Rakuten". He was a great Tang poet who was admired by all the Heian nobility.
The collection of poems, ``Bakushi Bunshu,'' was imported in the mid-9th century, and quickly took the imperial court by storm, creating a huge boom. For example, the Beatles came to the Japanese music scene of the Showa era, which was full of mood songs! Is that what it feels like? It had a tremendous impact, changing the way we perceive beauty in poetry and songwriting itself.
Moreover, this was not a temporary phenomenon, but continued throughout the Heian period. Did you know that The Tale of Genji and The Pillow Book are full of episodes that quote poems by Hakurakuten?
→Related article “Sei Shonagon ~The original! The lovely daily life of a highly conscious office lady~

The book that shows the greatest respect for Hakurakuten is Fujiwara Kiminin's ``Wakan Roeishu.''
As the name suggests, this is an excellent collection of Japanese and Chinese poems that were popular for recitation, and about 70% of the poems from Chinese poets are from Hakurakuten. Let's have an overwhelming experience! By the way, the Japanese poet who appears most often is Michizane's grandson Fumitoki Sugawara, followed by Michizane Sugawara, the main character this time.

In other words, for Heian cultural figures, the ideal of poetry was Hakurakuten, and the Japanese poet who opposed him was Michizane Sugawara.
By the way, in the early Heian period, there was a ``Chinese poetry boom'' in which three imperial collections of Chinese poetry were compiled, but very few haiku from this period were included. You can see that there is a clear line between before and after Hakurakuten.

I mentioned earlier that there are many quotations from Hakurakuten regarding Michizane's poems. However, this is not the same as the fact that Chisato Oe's ``Hakudai Waka'' from the same period was almost a Japanese translation of Hakurakuten haiku.
After fully absorbing Hakurakuten, he exalted it as traditional Japanese beauty and rebuilt it as an original ``wa'' that surpassed the Chinese.
Michizane presented his collection of family books, ``Sugaya Bunso,'' to Emperor Daigo.
Upon receiving this, the Emperor said, ``The 70th volume of Heiseisho Aihaku clan's writings is Korenari.From now on, the Suga family will no longer be established.''
I don't need the Shiro clan collection anymore, I'll just look at Michizane's collection from now on! ! He praised it highly.

It was because of Sugawara Michizane, a poet who was both learned and talented, that Japan's unique cultural artifacts, the Kokin Wakashu, were established and the national culture flourished. It makes sense that Michizane was the one who proposed abolishing the envoys to China.

Now, this is a long introduction, but let me introduce Michizane's Chinese poems from the collection of Japanese and Chinese poems.
There are no fallen scholars lamenting the tragedy. Quietly and gracefully! There are only poets who write about aesthetics.

Michizane Sugawara's five poems

■Peach blossoms on March 3rd
Smoke, haze, distance, nearness, and the same door
Torinosenshin, Kenpaini Nitari

Everyone from far and near had drunken faces. Both the peaches and plums, which bloom shallowly and deeply, seem to be recommending a cup.
It conveys the lively feast of the March 3rd festival.
By the way, when we think of Chinese poetry, the image of sake and peaches is strong, but for some reason these words are rarely written in waka.

■Spring ice with ice
The ice seals the surface of the water without any waves.
Yukiharindo Nitenjite, Miruhanaari

The ice closes the surface of the water and makes no sound. The snow piles up in the forest and looks like flowers.
A tranquil scene with snow falling gently, just like an ink painting.
This poem was written by Michizane at the age of 14.

The moon shines like clear snow (The moon shines like clear snow)
Plum blossom-like star (Plum blossom resembles a shy star)

Michizane, who was born into an elite family of scholars called the Suga family, is said to have composed the above Chinese poems at the age of 11.
As childish as this may seem, 14-year-old Michizane is mature.

■Maiko with instrument
Rakubaikyokufurite, wiping the lips of a falling plum tree
Oriyagi voice new hand-picking smoke

The song ``Rakubai'' is old, but snow-like flowers dance from the flute's lips. In the new song ``Oriyanagi,'' the hand that plays the koto is like smoke.
“My lips blow snow” is such a chilling phrase!

■Quiet residence
The roof of the capital is colored in tile color (Tofuro sees a slightly different color)
Kannonji Temple Bell (Kannonji hears the voice of Kannonji)

Dazaifu's tower gate only has tiles. Kannonji Temple just listens to the sound of the bell.
This is a poem he composed in Dazaifu, where he was exiled. If you're a fan of classical music, you'll know that this is a honka version of Hakurakuten haiku, which also appears in The Pillow Book.
Listening to the temple bell and pillow
Looking at the snow blinds on the snowy slopes

The title of the poem is simply ``Kankyo'', but knowing Michizane's final moments, it is a poem that can't help but bring tears to your eyes.

■Prostitute
Waiting for the moon on the autumn night, Kiyomitsu on the mountain in front of the mountain.
Natsuki Shiren, First Sight of Water's Red Glow

This is a poem written when a person was very excited to see a prostitute who was waiting for them at a banquet.
What a wonderful haiku that completely changes the image of Michizane!
Even so, it's like, ``It's like the moon waiting on an autumn night and looking at the faint light that comes from the edge of a mountain'' or ``It's like looking at a lotus on a summer day, and finally seeing the crimson flowers.'' This is rhetoric that ordinary people would never think of.

It is certain that Michizane's lovely metaphors and mitate techniques raised the level of Japanese poetry and, by extension, Japanese culture.

(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!

季刊誌「和歌文芸」
令和六年冬号(Amazonにて版販売中)

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