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Howard Hibbett - The Japanese Comic Linked Verse

Howard Hibbett - The Japanese Comic Linked Verse

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Published by Haiku News
A short article on haikai no renga, Japanese comic linked poetry, the predecessor and origin of haiku.
A short article on haikai no renga, Japanese comic linked poetry, the predecessor and origin of haiku.

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Published by: Haiku News on Apr 03, 2012
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Harvard-Yenching Institute
The Japanese Comic Linked-Verse TraditionAuthor(s): Howard S. HibbettReviewed work(s):Source:
Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies,
Vol. 23 (1960 - 1961), pp. 76-92Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 19/02/2012 17:51
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THE JAPANESE COMIC LINKED-VERSETRADITION
HOWARD S. HIBBETT
HARVARD UNIVERSITY
APANESE POETRY
has thedistinction,howeverdubious,of
extremebrevity n its two principal lyric forms. o constrictingarethese-thethirty-one yllabletanka
5iA
andtheseventeen-syllablehaikufIP4J-thattheywould seeminconceivablewithout hetechniquesofellipsis,ofallusion,ofassociation, throughwhichthepoetseeksto evoke thelatentmeaningsofhis fewmages.Yet thesesamedevicesofconcentration re usedinanothermajor poeticform-thatofrengaakor"elinkederse"-whichsustainstheintensityof thetanka andhaiku tolengthsofdozens, hundreds,oreventhou-sandsofines.The mostspectacularsoloflightecordedinJapaneseliterary istorysthesetofsome23,500linkedverses whichthepoet-novelist haraSaikaku1TRN
(1642-1693)
composedatapublicexhibitionn the summer f
1684,
duringasingle dayandnight.Thissurprisingutburstofwhathas beencalled"ethehort-windedapa-nese muse"climaxed a seriesofmarathonerformances,n the courseofwhich Saikaku hadseveral timesbeen outdoneby his competitors.Whysomuchenergyhouldhave beenexpendedinthis kindofversi-fication, nd whatnfacttheverses wereike, are questions that eadbackto theobscureoriginsofJapaneselinkedverse.ForSaikakuwrotenthe "efree"r"comic" haikaiIIPPVein,akindof inkedversewhichwas atonce themostpopular literary enreoftheearlyToku-gawa periodandperhapsthe mostdeeplyrooted.Althoughhaikai norenga,orhaikai,asitwasusually called, hadscarcelybeenrecognizedas literature efore heseventeenthentury,itsroleas apoeticdiversion was animportantnelongbeforethattime.'Eventhe "eshortenga,"oftenlaimed asthe directancestorof
1
The best concise accountsofearlyhaikaiare Itasaka Gen
4
i,
"Shoki haikai"M'Ml;,Iwanamikoza:NihonbungakushiH*Cf,,7(1958)and76
 
THEJAPANESECOMICLINKED-VERSETRADITION77
linked erse,waschieflywittyxchangey meansfwhichsingletanka, iddlingr otherwiselayfulntone,wouldbecomposedytwopoets.The earliestecordedanka fthis ort-hencet hasbeencalledthefirst enga-isonewhichOtomoYakamochi*M*nt(718-785),principalompilerftheMan'yoshiuZ,finishedyaddingtoakamino ku?E?4fi("eupperemistich")omposed yanun; Yakamochigave anamorousurn to herphrase"erice ieldswateredromheSahoRiver"byaskingf the "enew ice" wouldbeeatenll alone.2Another amousxampleccursn thetenth-centuryYamatomonogatari
ckn11,
beginningwithmorepuzzlingkaminoku:WatatsumioTherenakanizo tateruIn theoceansaoshikawaStandsthedeer-Towhich omeoneesponded,ompletinghetanka:akinoyamabe aPerhapshe autumnmountains
sokonimiyuranAre reflectedn
it.3
Suchverse-cappingecameafashionableastimeof theHeian
period,includedin thepoetrycontests(utaawaseE*-)atcourt.Probablyt grew outof the ong-establishedourtshippracticeof ex-changingove poems.Indeed, NijoYoshimoto=NA-(1320-1388),thesupremearbiterof eleganceinrenga,declared thatinked versebeganwiththe briefongssungatthemeetingfzanagiandIzanami,
IjichiTetsuo
I
tfi,"Wakarengahaikai"JJk*Vp,ShoryobuiyoWWWAU-N
(1953)3.1-17.
Furtheretailswillbe foundn therelevantrticlesf theindispensableHaikaidaijiten%3-tCRfL
(1957).
For bibliographyee alsoKokugookokubungaku
M ;
34(1957)4.120-133,
supplementedbythecontinuingbibliographiesn the ournal,
Rengahaikaienkyiu
J4.k%Mqf5t-
I shouldlike to acknowledgemyndebtednesstotheStanford-TokyoollaborativeStudiesProgramwhich madeitpossibleforme,n the summerf 1958,to discusstheseand relatedproblemswithProfessoronishiJin'ichi
JA-
ofTokyoKyoikuDai-gaku*Mythanksre duealso tomycolleagueItasakaGen,VisitingLecturern JapaneseLanguageand LiteraturetHarvard University,whohaskindlyreadthe manuscript.
2
Nihon koten ungakuaikeiEl*t
A^
2:S*
(
959)5.345.3
Ibid., 9.298.Thewordsoko,n associationwithwatatsumi, uggestspunonsokox(the "depths" oftheocean).

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