Death Song No. 16 ``If you live in the shade under a tree, you'll be better off with flowers and tonight'' (Taira Taira)

Last time, I introduced Minamoto no Yorimasa's death poem, and there was also a warrior from the Heike clan who was good at singing, Taira Taira. Tadanori was Taira no Kiyomori's half-brother, and it is said that he studied under the great poet of the time, Fujiwara Toshinari, so we can see how passionate he was about singing.

However, such elegance was short-lived, and the Heike family was forced to leave the capital. The battle took place in Ichinotani, and in this battle famous for the surprise attack of Ugoetsu, the Taira clan lost powerful warriors from their clan such as Michimori, Tomoaki, and Atsumori, and Tadanori was one of them. .

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The following scene is recorded in The Tale of the Heike. As Tadanori flees, Tadazumi Okabe sees him and yells, ``Are you going to show your back to the enemy? Come back! I'm looking at you!'' However, when it became known that he was a Heike nobleman, he was captured and beheaded.

``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)

This death song was tied to Tadanori's quiver. Although his death was a pitiful one for a samurai, he remained loyal and never forgot his grace until the end, saying, ``At least I want to die under flowers.''
Even so, it was a very pitiful ending, not only for him to lose in a fair fight, but even more so 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 mean.

In fact, Tadanori was probably a poet rather than a warrior, as there is an episode like this in The Tale of the Heike. When the Heike clan was about to leave 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 became peaceful and an imperial anthology was 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''.

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

Toshinari chose 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.

(Written by Uchida Engaku, a poet)

Go to the list of “Death Songs”

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季刊誌「和歌文芸」
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