miercuri, 31 august 2022

"One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each" -Fujiwara no Teika

 

"One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each (Hyakunin isshu) is a private compilation of poems dating to around 1230-40 and assembled by the renowned poet and scholar Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241). The best-loved and most widely read of all Japanese poetry collections, it was also the first work of Japanese literature to be translated into English -by Frederick Victor Dickins (1838-1915) -in 1866. There are three main reasons for its popularity. Firstly, its compiler, Teika, a scholar, theoretician and philologist, was the most admired poet of his time. Secondly, as a collection of one hundred of the best poems by one hundred representative poets, it provides a convenient introduction to the finest Japanese poetry from the late seventh to the early thirteenth centuries. Finally, it has endured thanks in part to the countless paintings, illustrated editions, commentaries and even a card game that have been inspired by it."

"All of the poems [...] are waka, the most ancient and prestigious of the traditional poetry genres. Waka serves as a general term for classical Japanese poetry in all its forms -except renga (linked verse) and haiku- as opposed to foreign verse, especially Chinese poetry. However, in the more usual, restricted sense, waka designates Japanese poetic forms pre-dating renga and haiku, namely choka, sedoka and especially the thirty-one-syllable tanka. Since the Meiji period (1868-1912), the ancient term tanka has been revived and the form updated, replacing waka as the preferred term for poems in the classical thirty-one-syllable form. The poems are arranged in five lines in an alternating pattern of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. In this volume, the majority of the translations are laid out over five lines."

Oshikochi no Mitsune 

To pluck a stem 
I shall have to guess, 
for I cannot tell apart 
white chrysanthemus 
from the first frost. 

Fujiwara no Sadayori 

As the dawn mist 
thins in patches 
on the Uji River, 
in the shallows appear 
glistening stakes of fishing nets. 

Inpumon-in no Taifu 

How I would like to show you – 
the fishermen’s sleeves of Ojima 
are drenched, but even so 
have not lost their colour, 
as mine have, bathed in endless tears. 

Fujiwara no Kintsune 

As if lured by the storm 
the blossoms are strewn about, 
white upon the garden floor, 
yet all this whiteness is not snow – 
it is me who withers and grows old

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