Death Song No. 17 ``If you leave and leave, you will become a hostless hostel, but don't forget spring, plum blossoms at the edge of the eaves'' (Minamoto no Sanetomo)

Minamoto no Sanetomo was the third shogun of the Kamakura shogunate. His father was Minamoto no Yoritomo, and he became the third shogun after his older brother Yoriie, the second shogun, was imprisoned. Although he was unable to hold real political power due to being blocked by the Hojo clan, he became interested in Kyoto's culture, especially waka, and even compiled a collection of his family's poems, ``Kanegoi Wakashu.'' He was 27 years old when he passed away, and was assassinated by his nephew Kimiaki.

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Sanetomo was not blessed with martial arts or politics, but his talent exploded in singing. Studied under Fujiwara Teika and mastered the traditional ``kokinburi,'' and the songs he exhaled as he breathed in the eastern air naturally led to the heroic so-called ``Manyoburi,'' which led to the unique ``jitsumorburi.'' It has bloomed. His ``Kanae Wakashu'' was compiled by Sanetomo when he was only 22 years old, and it is superior to that of his master Teika, who was born into the same family, at the same time. You can see that he was a natural born man.

It is said that this was his final song.

Tafu looked at the plum blossoms in the garden and wrote a taboo waka poem.
``If you leave, you will become a hostless hostel, but don't forget spring, plum blossoms at the edge of the eaves.'' (Minamoto Sanetomo)

At first glance, you can see that it is almost an analogy to the world-famous song of Michizane.
"Let's make the scent of plum blossoms come out! Don't miss spring without knowing the meaning of plum blossoms." (Michizane Sugawara)

I have two different impressions of this song, which is said to be about death.
One is that it's a completely boring song for a master like Sanetomo. It's a cold song, like a mass-produced object, with no trace of the ``human being'' that I saw earlier in Minamoto no Yorimasa and Taira Tadanori.

The poem that is said to be about Sanetomo's death is recorded in the ``Azuma Kagami'' along with the scene.
Shogun Sanetomo was about to hold his long-awaited ceremony to pay homage to the Minister of the Right at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura, but at that time, he had a strong feeling that he would be assassinated, so he composed this farewell poem upon his departure. And then this became reality, and Sanetomo was assassinated... I thought that this story was nothing but fiction.
It is well known that ``Azuma Kagami'' was intended to historically justify the power of the Hojo clan, the regent of the shogunate, and is not an objective description of historical facts. Whether or not it is a work of art has been questioned.

However, ``Azuma Kagami'' also contains such a description.
Before the ceremonial departure, Hiromoto Oe ``couldn't help but burst into tears,'' a description that suggests that he had prior knowledge of Sanetomo's assassination. It is also said that in July of the previous year, Yoshitoki had a dream in which the Dog God of the Twelve Yakushi Gods appeared to him and told the shogun, ``I would be honored to make an offering to Tsuruoka on the day of next year's greetings.'' Moreover, on the day of the ceremony, MINAMOTO no Nakaaki, who had replaced the sword-bearer, was killed by Kogyo. In other words, Hiromoto, Yoshitoki, and others were aware of Sanetomo's assassination in advance, and by extension Sanetomo himself...

When you think about it this way, Sanetomo's death poem takes on a different emotion. In other words, that clumsy manner of reciting was the result of a person who had come to terms with his own death at the very last moment. A true death song cannot leave one's feelings in the hands of grace. In Sanetomo's case, the best he could do was bring out the scenery and the poems of the deceased (in this case, plums in the garden and Michizane Sugawara), who could barely relate to himself...

Sometimes, or even most of the songs that are said to be about death are false. However, the more the fiction increases, the more the song feels like reality...
Sanetomo's song teaches us the difficulty of appreciating songs in the genre of death.

(Written by Uchida Engaku, a poet)

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季刊誌「和歌文芸」
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