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Formative Elements in the Japanese Poetic Tradition Author(s): Robert H.

Brower and Earl Roy Miner Source: The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 16, No. 4 (Aug., 1957), pp. 503-527 Published by: Association for Asian Studies Stable URL: . Accessed: 25/01/2011 08:14
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Formative Elementsin the JapanesePoetic Tradition

poetryof everynation and age is a complexexpression of the history, spirit, and individualgeniusof a people; and, as each successivegeneration evaluates a native or an alien poetic traditionfromits own historicaland culturalvantage-point, it discovers meaningsand values as well as limitations and weaknessesin the poetryit reads. Each generation must reassessforitselfthe glory that was Greece or thegrandeur of Japan-so that theattemptto describe the formative elements whichunderlie Japanesepoeticexpression is morethan a single essay, individual, or generationcan accomplish. But the undertaking nevertheless seemsnecessary today,whenwe can no longerbe satisfied withthe older extremesof Victoriancondescensiontowards "Japanese epigrams"; the exclusively historicalor biographicaltreatment whichevades directanalysis of the poetry;or that simple-minded exoticismwhichprefers ignorantraptureto the disciplined effort of literarycriticism. For the Westerner as well as forthe Japanese,poetrylives only as it is understoodand felt,and our experienceof Japanesepoetrytoday must reflect contemporary criticalstandardsand techniques of analysis-the means of understanding given us by our own age and culture. These limitationsand principlesare basic; but our essay is further limited to a single continuoussegmentof the total Japanese poetic chronologically tradition-to what may be called the primitive, the experimental, and the classical ages, fromapproximately to the middle of the thirteenth the fifth century of our era. We shall consider century the "secular" poetryof the period,leaving aside such overtly and hymns. materialsas Shintoor Buddhistliturgies religious Further, except forthe primitive to the mid-seventh age (extending century), we shall concernourselveswith the "literary"poetry,the productof conscious Our materials are therefore derivedin themainfrom theearlychronicles, artistry. of which the Kojiki (712) and the Nihongi (720) contain most of the extant primitive verse; the Man'yoshu (c. 759), the first of Japanesepoetry, anthology
Dr. Miner is Dr. Broweris AssistantProfessorof Japanese at StanfordUniversity. in British AssistantProfessor of English at U.C.L.A.; his book, The Japanese Tradition Press is scheduledforpublicationby the PrincetonUniversity and American Literature, on a book-length criticalstudyof Japanese late this year. The authorsare collaborating poetry, in whichtheyare developingthe ideas outlinedhere. This articlewas originally read as a paper before the Stanford UniversitySeminar on East Asian Thought and Society, and the authors wish to express their gratitude to ProfessorArthur Naturally they acand formany helpfulsuggestions. F. Wright forhis encouragement in this essay. forany errorsor infelicities cept responsibility




halfofthe the bulk ofwhosesome4,500poemsbelongto the seventhand the first eighth centuries;and the firstnine Imperial anthologies,fromthe Kokinshiz (c. 1234), which are the most important (?905) throughthe Shinchokusenshi the late eighthto the earlythirteenth from poetrywritten of literary collections whichweredevelopedand practiced Finally,thetwo majorpoeticforms century. is the choka(also, nagauta), or duringthis periodwill concernus here. The first and numberof pairs of fivean indefinite "long poem," whichcame to comprise line at the end, and to which lines,with an added seven-syllable seven-syllable mightbe added one or more hanka (also, kaeshiuta),or "envoys." The second, is the tanka,or "short and more importantformto the developingtradition, syllablesgroupedin fivelines,of whichthe poem," whichconsistsof thirty-one seven.' the others, and thirdcontainfivesyllables, first Thereare threeessentialaspectsofthe poetryofthe periodand typesjust now elementsin the development whichdeserveto be called basic formative defined to the of an integralpoetic tradition.These three elementsare not confined but poetry; uniqueto Japanese here,and arenotwholly periodunderconsideration in detail, emphasis, and patterns of development,these elements give the themselvesas Japanese poetic traditionits unique character,and recommend study. The firstelementis that of constancy: for further pointsof departure Japanesepoetryfromthe thereare several constantqualities whichdistinguish cycles:thereare patterns poetryof othernations.The secondis that of recurring The regularity. of change which are repeated over the centurieswith striking thereis a temporalsequenceof thirdelementis that of cumulativedevelopment: ofhisplace in the whichdecreesthat everypoet be mindful tradition developing these historyof his tradition.As patternsand constantsof poetic expression, but forthe at all times, interrelation operatein complex elements threeformative sake of analysis,it is usefulto discussthemseparately. I of the constant as well as one ofthe mostineffable One of the mostimportant elementsof any poetryis the mediumitself,language. The lexiconof classical different and particularity Japanese shareswith that of Chinese a concreteness fromWesternpoetic language. That "Beauty is truth,and truthbeauty" may sharedwithKeats by a Japanesepoet,but the Japanesepoet wellbe a sentiment
' The 5- and 7-syllable line did not become fixed in Japanese prosody until the verse varies conand the numberof syllablesper line in the mostprimitive 7th century, siderably. The envoy (which may have been pronounced henka in the period of that began to come into vogue was an innovationof Chineseinspiration the Man'y&shii) Harukichi, withthe tanka.See Morimoto It was identicalin form century. in the mid-7th AncientPeriod], of Japanese Literature: jodai [History Nihon bungakushi: "Man'yashiu," ed. Hisamatsu Sen'ichi (Tokyo, 1955), pp. 291-292.Much of the best Man'yoshupoetry is translated in The Manyoshu: One Thousand Poems, published for the Nippon list abbreviatedas NGS. For a convenient GakujutsuShinkokai(Tokyo, 1940),hereafter compiledbetween?905and 1439,see Edwin 0. Reischauer of the 21 Imperialanthologies, and Joseph K. Yamagiwa, Translationsfrom Early Japanese Literature(Cambridge, 1951),pp. 131-135.



the object whichis beautiful and assumesit is trueor he would typically presents we may findin the olderJapanesepoeticvocabulary tell us otherwise. Although termsfor such physicaland emotionalqualities as "whiteness,""sadness," or "love," and althoughthe languageis capable of makingformalas well as metadoes not include such words as the lexicon nevertheless phoricalabstractions, "truth" or "honor": thereis no Holiness to ride into a Spenserian allegorical abstraction,or the field,nor a Pity to shed a Baroque tear.2The personified of a moral or ethical quality, whichwe owe to Hebrew,late-Latin, abstraction is and medievalwriting, simplyare not a part ofJapanesepoetry.The tradition alien to it, and the part of human experienceconveyedin our poetryby such is expressedotherwise in Japanese. Such an emphasis upon parabstractions ticularityand avoidance of abstractionhelp explain why many Westerners, have been proneto emphasizewhat is "lacking" the moralVictorians, especially The problem in Japanesepoetry, and have oftentreatedit withcondescension.3 in its we faceis reallya dual one then: to showwhyJapanesepoetryis concrete and to suggesthow larger,more generalmeaningsare conveyed. functionings to a The first part of the answermay be given now and the second deferred ofimageryand othermatters. discussion Perhaps the crucial aspect of the language whichhas led to such subtle paris the nature of its nouns, verbs and adjectives, and particles.The ticularities objects Japanesepoeticvocabularyare almostinvariably nounsofthe traditional is noun almost every psychologically by the senses,and therefore apprehensible a literary an image and incipiently image. Japanesenouns have, then,a greater than our more generalizedvocabulary,a potentialof nuance and connotation in two verydifferent ways. First,the Japanese factwhichcan be demonstrated in which even nouns of place charis one of the world's few poetic traditions have connotativeor semi-metaphorical Second, the significance. acteristically which attracted imagisticpotentialof Japanese poetryis preciselythe quality of recentFrenchand Englishpoets who wereweariedby the abstractmoralizing tradition. a dilutednineteenth-century with Chinese,its While Japanese poetryshares a concretenoun-vocabulary different verbs and adjectivesmake it an entirely poetic medium.Few modern to adjectives and few are capable languageshave such richinflections literary ofsuch subtleverbaldistinctions. Japaneseverbsofthe classicallanguagedo not have our seven so-called tenses, but as many as seven premodal morphemes mood various types of aspect combinedwith as many as fourteen expressing
2 Formal means of derivingnouns from verbs or adjectives are found in such a are abstracSome,but not all, of thenounsso formed as -sa in the Man'yoshui. morpheme tions: kanashi "sad," and kanashisa "sadness." See Sir George Sansom, An Historical An exampleof a metaphorical abstracofJapanese (London,1928),pp. 293-295. Grammar tion mightbe koi "love." However,while abstractionsexist in classical Japanese,they than in Western are muchmore rare, and cover much morelimitedareas of experience European languages. 3 For example,W. G. Aston,JapaneseLiterature (London, 1899),Ch. ii, especiallypp. 24-34.



morphemes.4 The resultof this highlycomplexsystemis a particularly fineand subtle adjustment of tone, ultimatelybeyond the reach of translationinto Westernlanguages,and an instrument especiallywell suitedto exploring states of feeling, mind,and being. Two kindsof particlesincreasethe armamentof the Japanesepoet, although the distinction betweenthemis more one of poetic than grammatical function. Those may be called grammatical whichare "joined" to nouns to indicatecase, and those rhetorical whichare relatedto the syntaxand meaningas a wholefor varietiesof exclamation, questioning, and stress.The richtexture theseparticles give to the verse can be understood by comparing theirverbal concreteness to punctuationmarks or their varietyto the monotonous"Oh's" and "Ah's" of The following translators. tanka by Fujiwara no Shunzei (1114-1204) may be taken as an example: Kiku hitozo Namida wa otsuru Kaeru kari Nakiteyukunaru no sora. Akebono He who heard them: His tears brokeat theircriesThe wild geese winging In sad departure from the beauty Ofspringtime the sky.6 dawn spreadthrough

In this poem the particleszo and wa emphasizekikuhito"he who heard them" and namida "tears," and at the same time establisha relationship and implicit these words and contrastbetween kari "wild geese" and nakite"crying"in the lines. the oftheseparticles, Shunzei following Largelythrough use and placement man and natureinto close relationship: the geese "cry"-but it is the man brings who weeps; the man is sad at the poignantbeauty of dawn-but it is the geese who are made to feelreluctant to leave the scene. Withoutthe wa afternamida, would not the poem Viewed in the light of convey this reciprocalsymbolism. the aims it sets foritself, such particlesand otherpoetic-linguistic constituents whichare the despair give the poeticmediumat once an economyand a subtlety of the translator. and linguistic but they These aspects of grammar structure are fundamental, cannotbe evaluatedin isolationany morethan a streamcan be measuredby its
4Differing methodsof analysis will yield different numbersof inflectional categories. The figures givenhere are based upon Masako Yokoyama, The Inflections of 8thCentury Japanese, Language, XXVI (Jul.-Sept., 1950), Supplement, 25-45. Verbs of the if analyzed in accordancewith this same method, tenthcentury, would show a decrease of two or threein the numberof moods. 6 This and other poems quoted in this article which appear in the chronicles, and the Imperial anthologiesare identifiedby the numbersassigned the Man'y5shui to themin Kokka taikan[Compendium ofJapaneseClassical Poetry] (6thed., Tokyo, 1925, or othersourceis first 2 vols.). The name of the anthology given,followed by the number of the poem in sequencewithinthe anthology. The presentpoem is Shinkokinshul 59, the first Shinkokinshul being the 8th Imperial anthology, completedin 1206.All translations are by the present writersunless otherwiseindicated. This and other translations of poems from the Shinkokinshul are indebted to the exegeses in Kubota Utsubo, on theShinkokinshu] Shinkokinwakashu2 hyoshaku [A CriticalCommentary (8thed., Tokyo, 2 vols.). 1946-47,



cupfuls.For Japanesepoetrydoes have an almost stream-like, flowing cadence which reminds one of Sir John Denham's image of the Thames for his poetic ideal: Though deep, yet clear,thoughgentleyet not dull, Strongwithoutrage,withouto'er-flowing full.6 These qualities of depth (or sonorousness),gentleness, strength(or firmconsonance),and fullness (or assonancein harmony withmovement)growfrom two familiar truths. Japanesehas an unusuallyhighproportion of vowelsin regular alternationwith consonantsand is a language of little accent. Perhaps only Virgil could write verse with such melodious assonance and strengthof consonanceas the famoustankaby Ariwarano Narihira (825-80): Tsui ni yuku Michi towa kanete Kikishikado Kino kyo to wa o. Omowazarishi Though formerly I heard About the road that all must travel At the inevitableend, I neverthought my timeshould come So soon as yesterday or now.'

But it is morethan sound whichgives Japanesepoetryits cadence. The highly inflected natureofthe languagegivesit a freedom, even a loosenessand startling to of syntaxin extendedwriting whichlends a sinuousforward variety, pressure withinthe clause the verse.At the same time,however, the syntaxis morefixed of the movementof than, say, in Latin, with the resultthat the over-alleffect verse,especiallyin choka, is something betweenthe Latin and the English: a style of great fluiditybetween closely ordered syntacticalunits and characteristicallystiffened and enrichedwith parallelism between the constituent clausesand harmony within them.The cadencesofJapanesepoetry areindeed so graceful and smooththat some poets seem guiltyof the follyoftenimputedto Tennysonand Swinburne-of playingtoo good a tune withthe languageto pay muchattention While thisis not reallytrue of the Japaneseany to the libretto. morethan of Tennyson,the greatestpoets seem wary of this pleasant follyand roughen theirverse texturewithelisions,irregular lines,abrupt sounds,perturis to raise a bationsof syntax,or changesin pace. But to speak of thesematters second topic: that of the constantelementwhichwe findin Japanese prosody and style. Prosodyis of course closelyrelatedto language,and littleneed be said here about the syllabic fivesand sevens of Japanese poetry.The problemof where
6 Sir John Denham, "Cooper's Hill," The Poetical Works of Sir John Denham, ed. TheodoreHoward Banks, Jr. (New Haven, 1928),p. 77, lines 191-192. reflect the the Kokinshit of this and otherpoemsfrom 7Kokinshua861. The translations on exegeses in Kaneko Genshin, Kokinwakashiihyoshaku [A Critical Commentary theKokinshui] (12thed., Tokyo, 1940). Traditionholds that the presentpoem was composed during the poet's last illness. It also appears in the final "episode" of the collectionof poemswithprose contextsattributed Ise monogatari, a 9th-or 10th-century Collection of Japanese LitNihon bungakutaikei [Annotated to Narihira.See the Kochut eraryTexts],II (Tokyo, 1937),92.



of blank verse, thesesyllabiclengthscame from, like the problemof the origins theycomefrom an analogy willprobablyneverbe solved satisfactorily. VVhether rhythms to suit some ancientmusicalform, withChineseversepatterns, or from of or fromsome whollydifferent source,the fact remainsthat the alternation shortand longerlines is a part of the geniusof the language,just as accented and alliterativeverse was the best mediumfor the stronglystressedand prevailinglyshortwordsof the old Germaniclanguages.8 There seems to be an artisticequivalent to Newton's thirdlaw of motion, one convention, however-that in orderto receivean advantage froma literary of must also take the equal and opposite disadvantage. The fluidsmoothness any more adapted to Japanese prosodicstyle is not, under all circumstances, sustainedpoetic formsthan the involutedconceitsof our Metaphysicalpoets. The greatpoets of the choka,such as Kakinomotono Hitomaro (fl. c. 680-700) roughen the texture and Yamanoe no Okura (?660-?733), not only deliberately oftheirverse,but also stiffen it withparallelism ofthought and sound,singleand of idea and sound in difdouble parallelism, antithesis, echoingand re-echoing ferent ironies-and the parts of the poem, closelyworkedout formalstructure, With various sophisticated rhetorical techniquesalso foundin Westernpoetry.9 these techniquesto give the chokastrength and to slow down the cadence, or what is the same thing,to slow down our responseto the cadence, these poets could also reap the advantages of the onward-pressing melodicsweetnessof the Japanese prosodic style. The troublesomething about achieving this superb elements style is that it takes very great poets indeed to mergecontradictory into a singleeffect. In short, it seemslikelythat one of the principalreasonsfor is that the tanka the much-lamented demise of the chokain the eighthcentury in whichthe greatestpoets as well a form lengthwas such a readycompromise, as those of something less than surpassing could writewithoutlapsing greatness The tankawas foundto be an ideal intothat gravestofliterary sins,monotony. unit of cadence and thoughtfor the uses to which Japanese poetrytypically came to be put, especially as successive generationsof poets sought greater in a narrowedpoetic range.'0How melodicand yet how strongthe refinement is can be understood a favorite tankaform one-perhaps the poem by comparing by Narihiraalready quoted-with a favoritehaiku,such as the famousone by Matsuo Basho (1644-94): Kare-edani A crowis perched
8Takeda Yukichi, Jodai kokubungaku [Studies in Ancient Japanese no kenkyui sosetsu zenchuishaku: (Tokyo, 1921), pp. 71-72; Takeda Yukichi, Man'yoshut Literature] on theMan'yoshui: [Complete Commentary Introductory Volume](Tokyo, 1951),pp. 93-94; Takano Tatsuyuki, Nihon kayoshi [Historyof Japanese Songs and Ballads] (rev. shinko[NewInterpretations of the ed., Tokyo, 1938),p. 21; Tsugita Jun,Kokubungakushi (Tokyo, 1932),I, 50. Historyof JapaneseLiterature] of Hitomaro'schoka 9 See, forexample,the detailed analyses of the formalstructure II (Tokyo, 1937),esp. pp. 385-419. no Hitomaro, in Saito Mokichi,Kakinomoto 10HisamatsuSen'ichi,Nihon bungaku hen [History of Japanese kodai,chuisei hyoronshi: Criticism: Ancientand MedievalPeriods] (Tokyo, 1949),pp. 46-56. Literary



Karasu no tomarikeri Aki no kure.

Upon a leaflessboughThe autumndusk."

but not protractedenough to give a sense of melodic The haiku has rhythm, movement;it is almost all images related by juxtapositionratherthan by a flow. rhythmic coherent place in a syntactical, as well as practicebears out the claim of the tankato The evidenceof history afterthe be the normof Japanesepoetry.For while chokawere hardlywritten century, and therenga("linkedverse") and haikudid not come end oftheeighth the tanka has enand sixteenth centuries, untilthe fourteenth into prominence This is not to make a tradition.'2 the historyof the literary dured throughout songs primitive moralof aestheticjudgment,but to observethat afterthe first and the emergence of a literary sense, the tankaformis realized, and that alwereto have theirhour, thoughit was to see manya hard day, and otherforms is thisverseofthirty-one the formal constantofthe Japanese prosodictradition nearlya millennium form through of thisbrief syllables.The unique persistence evokesin theWestfrequently and culturalmarvelwhich and a halfis a historical The first is to thinkof and fanciful reactions. ernamateurtwo equally romantic distilledthat all the Westernpoet Japanese poetryas poetryso quintessentially dilutewiththe Parnasthe Japaneseanthologies, need do is gatheressencesfrom sian springs, and serveto the delighted reader;the secondis to dismissJapanese the heel or and by dismissis meant eitherturning poetrybecause of its brevity, sit down and compose a real tanka.Both of thinking one can, as a Westerner, in the same way: Japanesepoetry may be answered thesepopularmisconceptions not condensed;however,it transcendsits limitations, is admittedly extremely by becomingpure spirit,but by certainusefuland oftenunique poetic conventionsand by techniquessharedwithWesternpoetry.These techniquesby which its formal transcended limits, Japanesepoetryhas, over the yearsand centuries, the anxious and whichshouldfreeze whichclaimsour attention demanda respect poetaster'shand. Some of these transcending techniqueshave already been described-paraluse ofplace names,and irony, semi-imagistic lelismand otherrhetorical patterns, the like. But thereare otherelementswhichfall betweenthe constantsof lanor are the kake-kotoba guage and the constantsofprosodicstyle.Such techniques the jo or semi-metaphorical the makura-kotoba or "pillow-word," "pivot-word," or "allusive varia"preface,"the engo or "verbal association," the honka-dori the kake-kotoba tion," and the like.'3The two most familarof these techniques,
11For this, and earlier versions of the same poem, see Ehara Taizo, Shinko Collection of theHaiku of Basho, NewlyCollated](Tokyo, [Complete Basho haiku zenshui a poem in 17 syllables,on the pattern 1947),p. 122.A haikuis, as thisexampleillustrates, 5, 7, 5. 12 For a description of the technique and practice of the renga, see Donald Readers (London, 1953),pp. 31An Introduction for Western Keene, JapaneseLiterature: 37. 13The "pivot-word"is definedand illustratedin the present essay. The "pillow-



and the makura-kotoba, can briefly serveto represent the widergroup.The technique ofthe pivot-word is essentially that ofusinga singleseriesofsoundsin two overlapping syntactical and semanticpatterns, as in this poem by Ki no Tsurayuki (d. ?945): Kasumi tachi Ko no me mo haru no Yuki fureba Hana naki satomo Hana zo chirikeru. With the spreading mists The treebudsswellin early spring And wet snowpetals fallSo even my flowerless country village Alreadylies beneathits fallenflowers.'4

The wordharumeansboth "swell" (as buds) and the season, "spring."It seems significant that this technique,whichmightalmost be called a syntactical conceit,came to its fullest development onlywiththe emergence oftankaas the preeminent form.1" Tanka needed, far morethan choka,to transcendits limitsby such techniques, and one seriously is any more doubts whether the kake-kotoba suitedforlongpoemsthanthe analogousforms ofwitin our Metaphysicalpoets. In large measure,however,such a techniqueis representative of a constantin Japanese poetryof all forms-a strongemphasis upon a rich poetic texture, whetherof these verbal dexterities or vividly presentedimages expressiveof personalconcerns. in poetichistory criticized or Perhapsfewtechniques have been as impatiently as plaintively Its defenders defended as the makura-kotoba. proclaimits freedom and daringand its superiority to the Homeric epithets.The attackersdeclare that it maybe decorative, but withthe glowofdead wood in poemswhichcan ill We must seek to avoid eitherof these exafford such a rhetorical luxuriancy.'6 tremesby remembering the literary principlethat no techniqueused by good poets and poor poets alike is eithergood or bad in itself.The questionis one of what is made of a techniquein relationto othertechniques,ideas, and poetic needs,and our approachmustbe historical as well as critical.The earliestsight we get ofthe maklura-kotoba is in the poems ofthe Kojiki and Nihongi.From the the techniqueis used partlyforsound,partlyforrhetorical beginning, amplificathe potentialities But we reallybeginto understand tion,and partlyforimagery.
word," which we also discuss, is a kind of fixed epithet, usually of 5 syllables. It is relatedto a following wordor phrasethrough soundor sense association,frequently at severalremoves. in function, The jo, or "preface,"is similarto the makura-kotoba but is considerably longerand more free.Most, but not all, jo are metaphorical. The engo, or "verbal association,"is a varietyof wordplay in whicha second,latentmeaningof a wordis brought out through the use in anotherpart of the poem of a termwhichevokes this second meaningthroughassociation. The honka-dori, or "allusive variation," is a neo-classical technique of adapting an identifiable part of an older poem to a new context. 14 Kokinshi 9. 16 The prevalence of kake-kotoba and engo,and a decreasein the use of makura-kotoba whenthe choka and jo, are markedfeaturesof the poetryof the 9th and 10thcenturies, was already a dead letter.See Tsugita, I, 157. 16 See, for example, NGS, pp. xxi-xxii; and the criticismsby the modern poet in Saito, II, 444. Ito Sachio (1864-1913) of Hitomaro'suse of the technique,reported



ofmaklura-kotoba in the poetryof Hitomaro.As nearlyas we can tell,he created forhimself about halfofhis pillow-words, and he uses themforthe mingled purpose of amplifying or heightening his style,forsound, and for metaphorhalfsubmerged in formality.'7 Now Hitomarowroteforhis courtas Pindar,Spenser, and Drydendid fortheirs, and like them,he appears not to have been a member of the circlesat the very social top. The makura-kotoba was perhaps chiefly a techniqueforpoemsto an audienceof social peersor superiors on occasionswith elevated subjects-in short, to elevate his styleas surelyas Pindar's theogenies, Spenser'sallegories, or Dryden'smetaphors ofAugustanRome. In his hands,the techniquewas at once ritualistic and fresh; in some feebler hands,the technique oftendid become dead wood. But we must realizethat even poets ofmuchlater periodswhen the audience was changed could use the techniquemeaningfully, eitherby creating newmaklura-kotoba, or by use ofold ones to recallthe gloriesof the tradition's earlierdays in a mannerlike T. S. Eliot's echoings, or to give the techniquea new meaning in a freshcontext, say, by integrating its effect of unsophisticatedcandor into poetry of an artfulsimplicity,as in this poem by Fujiwara no Teika (1162-1241): Momoshiki no Tonoeo izuru Yoi-yoiwa Matanu ni mukau Yama no ha no tsuki. Fortress-strong The Palace, whoseguardsmen's hall I leave nightafternight, To meet you, thoughyou do not wait, 0 moon upon the mountain'srim."8

The makura-kotoba is also a matterofimagery, one ofthe mostimportant constant elementsof Japanese poetry. It may perhaps seem illogical to include imagery-a techniqueof all poets-among those constantswhichgive Japanese poetryits unique quality,but of course by imagerywe mean the characteristic and differing natureor use of imagery. The place to beginis withthe obviousthat aspect ofpoetry whichoftenescapes us too subtlemoderns-by takingnote ofwhateverybody knows, thatJapanesepoetry has an unusually highproportion ofnaturalimages.Thereare probablyseveralsignificant causes forthisimportant fact. First,thereis the sensory natureof nouns and the habit of particularity of thoughtand expression discussedearlier.Second, thereis an alteredor redefined animisticimpulsewhich has continuedto survivein Japanese culture,giving naturean attraction and an emotional value reflected in everyday lifeas muchas in poetry.Third,thereis a moresophisticated and philosophical conceptfrom a mingledBuddhismand Taoism ofthe onenessofall naturallifewhichgiveswhat we call external naturea closenessand relevance to humannaturenot to be found
17 Konishi Jin'ichi, Nihon bungakushi [History of Japanese Literature] (Tokyo, 1953), p. 22. 18 Shinchokusenshul 1170. The pillow-word is momoshiki, more commonly used before omiya "great palace." The usual explanation is that it means "innumerableblocks of stone built up." This poem was written by Teika fairlylate in life,and represents a departure from a moreornatepoetical stylewhichhe practicedwhenhe was younger. See Yasuda Akio, "Waka" ["Native Poetry"], Nihon bungakushi: chuisei[History of Japanese Literature: MedievalPeriod],ed. Hisamatsu Sen'ichi (Tokyo, 1955),pp. 38-39.



shaped as theyare, to a large extent,by various dualisms in Westerncultures, betweenspiritand matter,man and nature,and the like. Fourth,thereis the whoseuse of naturalimageshas played of Chinesepoetry, exampleand prestige is Natural imagery an important roleat timesin shapingthe Japanesetradition. so much a part of the thoughtand practiceof classical Japanesepoetryand its Tsurayuki's criticism whichsurvives, culturalambiencethat the first theoretical metaphor forthe purposesand inPrefaceto the Kokinsha,uses it as a running spiration forJapanesepoetry:"The poetryof Yamato takes rootin the human heartand growsinto the leaves often thousandwords."19 that Classical Japanesepoetryoftengives naturalimages anotherdimension, of personification, with to compareJapanesepersonification and it is instructive ofthe poignancy ofpresent beautywhenone's mind our own.Shunzei'sreflection of the past givesus a Japaneseexample. is filled withthoughts Mukashi omou Kusa no iori no Yoru no ame ni Namida na soe so Yama-hototogisu. I ponderon the past While the summerrain falls throughthe dark hut About my grass-thatched these hills, But, hototogisu, singingthrough to my tears.20 Do not call out a freshening

in that it involvesan emotionalbond This is a typicalJapanesepersonification betweennatureand the speaker,and it is also commonin its use of apostrophe. natural image, but Shakespeare's"morn,in russetmantle clad" is a personified is not so muchto humanizethe image as to decorateit and to give a its function There is sense of action; and of coursethereis no addressto the personification. address in the lovely openingline of Samuel Daniel's sonnet, "Care-charmer Sleep, son ofthe sable night,"but herethereis verylittleimageand the personifias we have seen,is alien to Japanesepoetry. cationis one ofan abstraction which, but his anguished comescloserto theJapanese, Keats's addressto thenightingale bird and the mortalpoet is too sharp a sense of the gulfbetweenthe immortal dualismto be acceptedin mostJapanesepoetry. whichhave the quality Althoughthereare veryfewWesternpersonifications factthat not onlydo both traditions ofthe Japanese,it is an interesting employ but that theyalso tendto employit forthe same purposes-the themes allegory, As we would expect,however, of love and religious Japaneseallegory morality. as Guillaumede Lorris'Esperanceor Spenser's does not employsuchabstractions Justice.Moreover,Japanese allegoryis less "transparent"than Western.It is or by a by the Westernhallmarkof abstraction, not announcedby type-names, that a Beatrice standsforLove and Revelation.Japaneseallegoryis declaration ifnot announced, often by dictionor imageswhichalertthe reader,since hinted,
19 Kaneko, p. 51. For a complete of the JapanesePrefaceto the Kokinshu, translation de Heian: le Kokinshu,I: Pr6facede Ki no po6tique see GeorgesBonneau, Le monument Tsurayuki(Paris, 1933). 20 Shinkokinshfu 201. Hototogisu means "cuckoo," but we have used the Japanesehere quality and to avoid possible unpleasantassociations. both forits mellifluous



no yami) as "person" (hito) or "darknessof the soul" (kokoro such expressions are frequently of dew that oftenprepareus fora love allegory;and imageslike infallible allegory.These hintsare merelyhints and not of religious symptoms poems forthe wordsand imagesmay be used in non-allegorical signs,however, is often there of fact, matter and theremay be allegorywithoutthem. As a will Genji Tale of in the the message-poems in thepoem,as the readerof nothing somemode; and in allegorical recall,by whichwe can be sure that the poem is that givesany inkling supposition or critical tradition, timesonlya prosecontext, betweenthe distinction a poem carriesa "darke conceit."'"This is an important descriptive as exist modes of our two cultures:Japanesepoems often allegorical the without wholes artistic satisfactory are quite and expression lyricsor single forthe privatemeaningconveyed,say, as a messageof love. Western necessity the meaningof the metaphor,thereis allegoryis usually monolithic-without allegory,on the otherhand, is often Japanese poem; to the little significance with one preoccupiedface turned toward the images of the Janus-headed, winkto somedear girlorfellow a knowing naturalsceneand withthe othergiving priest. and symbolare not always easy allegory, The linesbetweenimage,metaphor, to make are even moredifficult in the distinctions and poetry, to draw Western in theautumndusk is not in Japanese,wherethe image of perhapsquails crying fora sad lonelinessand a symbol metaphor onlyan image,but also an affective which in the Shunzeiis said to have most the poem of as poet, of the experience work. his own among preferred Yu sareba No-beno akikaze Mi ni shimite Uzura naku nari Fukakusa no sato. As eveningfalls, From along the moorsthe autumnwind Blows chillintothe heart, And the quails raise theirplaintivecry In the deep grassof secludedFukakusa.22

Insofaras this poem describesa scene,dusk, the autumnwind,quails, and the "deep grass") are images. Insofaras these images village of Fukakusa (literally, of a are vehicles melancholytenor,they are metaphors.But the images also of a truth, because centuries function ofa state of mindand represent as symbols with natural had invested these images and Buddhist monism poetic practice to man. whichmade clear theirrelationship overtones The private or individualreof a with are paradox. something We left,then,
21 See, for example, the exchange between the Lady of Akashi and her daughter Waley's Tale of Genji (1-vol. ed., London,1935),pp. 468-469.The Tale of Genji, in Arthur is the great novel of court life believed to have been written or Genji monogatari, in the early 11thcenturyby Murasaki Shikibu.The customof includingprose contexts with poems to specify the occasions which inspired them is already established in the Imperial anthologies. the Man'yoshuand continuesthrough compiledby Shunzei is the 7th Imperial anthology, 22 Senzaishui 258. The Senzaishui forthis poem is reportedby Kamo and probablycompletedin 1188.Shunzei's fondness no Chomei (?-1216) in his poetical treatiseand collectionof anecdotes,the Mumyosho, or NamelessSelection.See Yasuda, p. 21.



a whicharisefrom in termsofimagesand symbols sponseofthe poet is expressed belief.This paradox of originalconventionality, or religious culturalconvention since and the bane ofJapanesepoetry, as it may be called,is at once the resource to say a greatdeal in littleor to say verylittlein littleif it enablesthepoet either the Western Unfortunately, the convention. withmouthing himself he contents from subtleoriginality. mereconvention readeris not always able to distinguish And the paradox leads us to anotherconstantin Japanesepoetry:it is not only whichare more social or convenbut also the modes or functions the imagery, tional than in Westernpoetry.In the West, this public concept of poetrywas perhapsmostcloselyapproachedin the Roman and EnglishAugustanages. used wherewe Japanesepoetryis often This public qualitytakes manyforms. and addresses Letters,congratulations, woulduse prose-as a mode ofdiscourse. or declarationsof many kinds are occasions for poetryfromthe time of the in the poetry Kojiki on. Lucretiusdid indeed expresshis Epicurean philosophy ofDe rerum naturaand Pope his Deism in his Essay on Man, but theseare poems uncongenialto types of generalization of philosophicalor moral ratiocination, of social the Japanese,wherepublic poetryis bettersuitedto the particularities discourse.Japanesepoetryis much moreoccasional than ours; it tends to arise to deal withtopics whichare sociallyaccepted and confrompublic situations, sideredproperto poetry,and to convey these in ways suggestedby tradition. Departures fromaccepted norms oftenhave aroused debate, at least among the Cape In onepoem,for Hitomaroseemsto personify example, Japanesecritics. (whilea birdora treemightbe), of Kara. Since capes are notusuallypersonified that it was have arguedthat Hitomarouses a synecdoche, some commentators people standingon it. not the cape which was waiting,but some unspecified but the criticalfuss shows how strong Modern opinionholdsforpersonification, a pressuretraditioncan exert.23 It is true that some kinds of medieval poetry and and less occasional,but the occasionalmodessurvive, becomemorereflective whichtends to be the public kind of modes employa symbolism the reflective varietyofYeats' cyclesof the moon. Buddhismratherthan the homespun also involve and symbolism ofthepublicnatureofimagery Such considerations the meaningsconveyedby metaphorand the great constant,if not invariable, themesofJapanesepoetry.These themesneed onlybe named to be understood, the usual Japanese from differently but perhapstheymay be groupedsomewhat and so on; poems of love; religious poems; laments; summer, patternsof spring, It seems more meaningful to say that nature,love, and human and the like.24 affairs providewhat may be called the basic poetic themes.Then thereis time which threatensthese basic values and has been a preoccupationof Japanese
23 The poem is Man'yoshu 30, the firstof two envoys accompanying the choka, see NGS, p. 27. The critical "On Passing the Ruined Capital of Omi." For a translation, by Keichui (1640-1701)and Kada is represented among the commentators difference They are quoted in Saito, Azumamaroholdingforsynecdoche. Azumamaro(1669-1736), II, 5-6. of poems accordingto such categorieswas standardpractice,es24 The classification and followedin subsequentImperial anthologies. tablishedin the Kokinshui



the conpoets forcenturies. And finally thereare thosethemeswhichtranscend flict withtime-such themes whichmay be typified as religion, secularmysticism, cosmicirony, and a broad senseofhumanidentity. and social modes,thesethemesare handled In the context ofJapaneseimagery in a way that is more directthan in most Westernpoetry.There is a greater forexample,makes the poet's responseto immediacy. The lack of abstraction, has an important effect on the his subjectseemmoredirect,and thisimmediacy two kinds of estheticdistance. On the one hand, thereis usually less distance whether the subject is natureor betweenthe poet and his subject or materials, hand,there is less ofa distinction to be drawn, thewomanloved; and on the other usually,betweenthe individualpoet and the speakerof his poems. This lesser in WesternRomanticpoetry, estheticdistancewas approximated and it may be significant that the Romantics, like the Japanese, were deeply interestedin public nature.But Japanesepoetry cannotbe called Romantic,because its highly nature,so much like our Augustan poetry,cancels out or perhaps ratherharmonizeswith the expressionof individual personality. We can, however,call Japanese poetrylyricaland social at the same time. Indeed, so many of the qualitiesalreadydiscussedseemto be relatedto thiscentralfactthat it does not seemtoo superficial to concludea discussionofthe constantqualitiesofJapanese in a public and poetryby characterizing the traditionas a personal lyricism traditional context. II The natureof realitychangesas soon as one beginsto consider timeas a mode ofexistence: and timemustbe takeninto accountin a studyofJapanesepoetry, elementin the growth not onlyas an important theme,but also as a formative of the tradition.Such an approach reveals elementsunderlying cyclicpatterns ofcertainideals, relationships, overthe centuries-a recurrence influences, qualiOne of the most important of these recurring patternsis ties, and movements. that whichunderliesthe attemptmade by poets in age afterage to achieve a or superpersonalism. balance betweenpersonalism and impersonalism In each age, the personal lyricism needed to be broughtinto a balance-a balance meaningful to the age-with social ideals of relationsbetweenclasses, relations betweenthe poet relations betweenmen and womenin love or married, and public affairs, and so on; and into a balance as well withthe superpersonal the natural world,religion, and the like. These ideals of a broaderhumanity, and superpersonalism wereessentialto each other, polar oppositesofpersonalism Too muchpersonalism and everything was to be gainedby theirproper harmony. but to sentimentalworld,to obscurity, repeatedly led, not as in our fragmented led to excessiveartificiality, monotony, clich6, ity; and too muchimpersonalism and formalism. Either extrememight become flaccidlyconventional.In age balance peculiarto the after to achieve a meaningful age, we can see the struggle a directnessof personal responsewith a growing age, usually by harmonizing of technique; a harmonybetween poet, subject, and audience sophistication of estheticdisof tone,an importance of theme,a propriety a fineness through



tance,and a response to theneedsoftheage. More thanthat,it is possibleto map the courseofsuchan age or periodas the earlierHeian by its progress from a new searchfora morevital personalism to a balance and thento a decadent conventionality, a patternwhichoccursin earlierand subsequentperiods.25 This sequencefrom personalism to balance to conventionality leads us to more specific cyclicelementsof poetic practiceby whichpoets attemptedto achieve theirharmony.Very early, perhaps much earlier than is usually recognized, sinceit beginswiththe generation ofHitomaroin the seventhcentury, thereis a tendency, impulse,or practicewhichmay be called primitivism. We normally identify two kinds of primitivism in Westerntaste-the chronological and the cultural.Chronological primitivism turnsto an olderage forits values, and culturalprimitivism to a contemporary but alien civilization. Japanese poets show in slightly thesekindsofprimitivism different form. Something like chronological primitivism has repeatedly occurred, especiallyin transitional timeswhen,tiring ofan over-sophistication, poets admireand emulateolderpoetrybothforits presumed simplicity and forits presumedsuperiority over the sophisticated complexityofa laterage. A consciousand artful simplicity or naivet6is often used in this mannerin a search for a therapeuticantidote to conventionality and to establishthe properbalance betweenpersonalism and superpersonalism for the often age. Such primitivism borrowed fresh but languagefrom the spokentongue, it also led poets to older,simplerdictionand images and to treat subjects with simpledeclarationof the speaker'sfeeling. A secondform ofJapaneseprimitivism is the turning to a simpler, contemporaneous people for directness of responseand simplicity the with a motivation same as that forchronological But in Japan, as perhapsin China, primitivism. the practice ought really to be called social ratherthan culturalprimitivism, sincethe poets turned, not to the Noble Savage ofAfrica, America,or the South oflowerstation-to the lives,and to a lesser Seas, but to theirown countrymen extent,the songs of workers, peasants, beggars,and the like-to refresh poetic But we are on hazardous estheticgroundshere and must pick our inspiration. Given the human probabilities and the socio-historical way carefully. situation, In otherwords, it is most likelythat social primitivism is a kind of pastoralism. we see the intelligent and trainedpoet reaching downto the commoner for"local color" and simplerthoughtsand feelingsadaptable or even necessaryto con2B Thus, the passionatelyricism of 9th-century poets such as Ariwarano Narihiraand Ono no Komachi (a woman;fl.c. 850) led to a greater disciplineand balance in the poetry oftheKokinshui age in the early10thcentury. The Kokinshustylewas further refined and to the point of diminishing embellished returns in the 10thand early 11thcenturies.A of primitive similarcycle may be traced in the development fromthe over-personalism to a balance in the age ofHitomaroin the 7thcentury, to an over-conventionality poetry, in the poetry of Otomo no Yakamochi (718-85) and his contemporaries in the midIn the later Heian period,a thirdcycle is foreshadowed 8th century. in an unsuccessful to to bringa freshpersonalism and simplicity attemptby Fujiwara no Kinto (966-1041) was continuedby the innovatorsMinamotono Tsunenobu(1016-97) poetry.The effort and his son Shunrai (or Toshiyori,?-1129).The balance was achieved by such poets as Fujiwara no Shunzeiand his son Teika in the 12thand 13thcenturies, and the succeeding age was again characterized by a decadent conventionality.



temporary modes,rather thanthe commoner reaching up to save thenationfrom the poeticdisasterofconventionality. Theremay indeedhave been some "mute, inglorious Miltons" in Japanesecountrychurchyards, but the point is that the poetrywe knowand talk about was the possessionof the courtclass and those who came underits influence. Sone no Yoshitada (fl.c. 985) wrotewitha truly primitive realismand was onlylaughedat by his contemporaries, who would not toleratesuch unprecedented and "low" images as "my lover'shair soaked with sweat."26 No doubt court poetryfiltered down to the people as themesof the Westerncourtly romancesenteredinto the ballads duringthe middleages, but thisprocessis that of the sophistication of the unlettered, not the expression of the voxpopuli.Hitomarois thought to have written at least one of the so-called "songs of the palace-workmen" in the Man'yoshu; and Otomo no Yakamochi (718-85) triedhis hand at the "song of the frontier guard."27 All this has been said to adjust the impression mostofus have been givenby the stockcomments on the Man'yoshu-that it represents poetryby a cross-section of all the people from the Emperorto the lowliestbeggar;but morefundamentally to point out that sophisticated Japanesepoets had simpler modesto turnto and bringa new freshness or personalism to theirpoetry.28 This act is a verysophisticated one, as we can see from Western pastoralism-a poeticmodewhichis theproductofsuch refined periodsas Virgil's,the Renaissance,and Augustan England. There is no in the Greekor Germanepics or in the Kojiki. pastoralism We must also distinguish this social primitivism fromthat commonalty and in poetrywhichis the productofperfected simplicity in the breathart,whether takingfinalspeeches of Shakespeare's King Lear, Hitomaro's grand vision of humanidentity in his poem on a dead body on the island ofSamine,or Saigyo's (1118-90) poems of retirement.29 The Japanesedid indeed turnto the past and emotions intopoetry, simpler to bringless sophisticated but peoplein the present the exampleofSaigyo's withdrawal to a lifeof refined amid rusticsursimplicity roundings reminds us that thereis a Buddho-Taoisttradition ofretirement which is anything but primitivistic. To mentionSaigyo and the long Sino-Japanesetraditionof retirement is to
26 The lines occur in a poem in Yoshitada's personalanthology, the Sotanshui. See the Kochu kokkataikei [Annotated Compendium of JapanesePoetry], XIII (Tokyo, 1929),36. 27 The authorship of the highly complexchoka(Man'yoshui 50) which bears theheading, at the Fujiwara Palace," was already suspectedby the com"Composedby a Workman mentator Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801), who attributed the poem to Hitomaro. This seems quite likely, although it has been suggested that Hitomaro may have "helped" the workmanwrite it. See Saito, II, 888-891, 912-916. For examples of Yakamochi's poems in the "frontier guard" genre,see Man'yoshu4398-4400 and 44084412 (translatedin NGS, pp. 175-178). 28 For some of the traditional comments, see NGS, pp. xiii-xiv. 29 Hitomaro'spoem,whichis quoted in part below,is a chokafollowed by two envoys abandoneda promising (Man'y5sh,d 220-222). Saigyo,whoselay namewas Sata no Norikiyo, military careerand enteredthe Buddhistpriesthood He mainat the age of twenty-two. tainedclose ties withmanyof the prominent poets of his day, but spentmuchof his life in retirement and in travel. Throughout the feudal periodhe was held in semi-religious venerationas the prototype of the itinerantpoet.



suggestanothercyclicelementwhich,like chronological primitivism, is an act of borrowing, but is verydifferent in motivation.This elementmay be called neoclassicism, a turning to thepast, not fora refreshing naivet6or simplicity, but for super-personal orderwhich would give meaningful formto contemporary and personalexperience. The neoclassicalurgeis perhapsstrongest in the earlymedieval period (1150-1250) when societyseemedto be in chaos. Fujiwara no Teika, forexample,could look upon poetryas a means of achievingimmortality in an age of chaotic strife betweenthe Minamoto and the Taira clans. "My ears are fullof tales about the current uprisings and the campaignsto quell them," he wrotein his diary,"but I pay no attentionto them. The chastisement of the red banner [of the warriors]is no affairof mine." This withdrawal, with its reflection concomitant on old poetic traditions and echoingof the poetic past, is typicalof the late Heian and earlymedievalperiod,whenthenobility make might a religiouscommitment to poetryas "a way of life."30But even Hitomaro, Otomo no Tabito (665-731) and Yamanoe no Okura (d. ?733) are neoclassicists to a considerable degree.Hitomaro's"public" chokausually beginwitha kind of overture which celebrates theglories of the human,Imperial,or divinepast. Tabito in his poems on sake and Okura in his "Lament on Poverty" are neoclassical in theirborrowings of themes fromChinesepoetryto give meaningto their world.This turning to the literature of China is not subservience, but the ageold view of art as tradition.3' At the same timeit mustbe said that some periodsare moretradition-minded than others,and the examples of Tabito and Okura bringus to a finalcyclic pattern, that of the recurring importance of China to the Japaneseestheticand to poetic practice.The importance of Chinese thoughtis basic and obvious in Tabito's Taoistic Epicureanismand in Okura's partiallyConfuciansocial consciousness.But a quasi-Chinesepoetic sensibility had been awakened before theirtime,as in PrincessNukada's famouspoem from the late seventhcentury on therivalbeautyofthehillsofspring and autumn,a sophisticated poetictheme whichshowsthe dawn of a Japanesepoetrywithliterary as well as immediate humanconcerns: Fuyu-gomori Haru sari-kureba Nakazarishi When,loosenedfrom the winter's bonds, The springappears, The birdsthat were silent

30 The quotationfrom Teika appearsin the entry forthe9thmoonof 1180in his diary, theMeigetsuki. See Yasuda, p. 33. Concerning thedevelopment ofthe conceptofpoetryas michi,or a "way of life," see Konishi Jin'ichi,"Chfiseini okeruhyogensha to kyojusha" ["Artistand Audiencein the Medieval Period"], Bungaku,XXI (May 1953),471. 31 Hitomaro's "overtures" are said to have been influenced by the norito,or Shinto liturgies. See, forexample,Sasaki Nobutsuna,Jodai bungakushi [History ofAncient JapaneseLiterature], II (Tokyo,1936),282-283, 532,536. On the otherhand,a possiblerelationship betweenthe loftytone and rhetorical techniquesof the noritoand the Chinesefu, or prosepoem,whichflourished during theHan dynasty(208B.C.-A.D. 220) has been suggested.See Konishi,Bungakushi, pp. 29-30.Tabito's groupof 13 tankain praise of wine (Man'yoshu1 338-350)and Okura's chokaand envoy on poverty(Man'yoshut 892-893)are translated in NGS, pp. 117-118 and 205-207.



Tori mo ki-nakinu Sakazarishi Hana mo sakeredo Yama wo shigemi Iritemo torazu Kusa fukami momizu. Torite Akiyamano wo mitewa Ko-no-ha Momiji wo ba Torite zo shinubu Aoki wo ba zo nageku Okite Soko shi urameshi warewa. Aki-yama

Come out and sing, that wereprisoned The flowers Come out and bloom; But the hills are so rank withtrees flowers, We cannotsee theare so tangledwithweeds And the flowers We cannottake themin our hands. But whenon the autumnhill-side We see the foliage, We prizethe yellowleaves, Taking themin our hands, We sighoverthe greenones, Leaving themon the branches; And that is my onlyregretFor me, the autumnhills!32

to appear to have givenclose attention in this earlyperiodwriters But although Dynasties especiallyofthe periodofthe Southernand Northern Chinesepoetry, involvedforthe most part a borcycle of Chineseinfluence (312-589), the first by rowingof themes and images, and did not end with a final commitment and irrevoJapanesepoets to a view of poetryand poetic techniquespecifically couldand usuallydid contemporaries Tabito, Okura,and their cably"Chinese."33 with China. This writein many modes and stylesthat oftenhad no connection versatility, properto an age of bold experimentation, broaderand morestriking gives to the poetryof the seventhand eighthcenturiesthat varietyof forms, Japanesewho whichhas been so muchadmiredby modern and materials themes, However,the prespointto theMan'yoshuas the gloryoftheirpoeticliterature. to increasefrom tigeofChinesepoetry-and thevogueforimitations-continued of the tenthcentury.In the face of this onslaught the eighthto the beginning and articulatepoetic,Japanese witha complicated a vastlyoldertradition, from it was in of the ninthcentury to lose ground.By the beginning continued poetry of a playfunction to the undignified relegated permanently dangerofbecoming cycle,then, Chinese businessof gallantry.In this first thingin the half-serious thenative than to enrich to replacerather increasingly seemedto threaten poetry tradition.34 can be seen in the of the second cycle of Chinese influence The beginnings half of the ninthcenturyof the so-called rathersuddenappearance in the first
32 Man'yo5shfZ had not yet NGS, pp. 10-11.The chokaform is from 16. The translation of lines,of it containsan even number whenthis poemwas written: becomestandardized I (Tokyo,1948),114.Princess whichthelast threeare of7 syllables.See Takeda, Chiishaku, herdates are unknown. although Nukada is placed in the latterpart of the 7thcentury, 33Konishi,Bungakushi,pp. 25-26; Kanda Hideo, "Kan bungaku" ["ChineseLiterature"], Jodai, ed. Hisamatsu,pp. 506-535. 34 pp. 32-33. Konishi, Bungakushi,



Six Poetical Geniuses,withtheirnew and morevital subjectivity.35 However,it was moreparticularly due to the consciousefforts of the compilers of the Kokinshu, Ki no Tsurayukiand others,in the late ninthcentury, that the Chinese poetical traditiontook on a new relevancefor Japanese poetry,and that the nativepoetry in turnwas accordeda new and permanent statusas the highestof the artsin Japan. It would be a mistaketo see in what we may call Tsurayuki's "Defence of JapanesePoetry"-the Prefaceto the Kokinsha-an expression of culturalxenophobia,or even the complacentbeliefthat the Japanese Muse is everybit as good as the Chinese,if not better.It is ratherthe emergence of a criticalconsciousness, an attempt to create for Japanese poetrya theoryand prescribe a practicewhichwould entitleit once again to social acceptance,this timeas an art on a level withChinesepoetry.Thiseffort appearsto have entailed, first, an insistence upon a restricted languageofpoetry withthe prestige oftradition and precedent;and secondly, of individualexpression the restriction to importantbut subtle adjustmentsof the relationbetween the originality of the individualpoet and the conventionality ofhis prescribed materials.36 It is one of the commonplaces ofJapaneseliterary history thattheKokinshashowsa marked concern withpoeticaltechnique;and it is also truethat the poetical vocabulary ofthe Kokinsha-a vocabularywhichsignificantly excludesall wordsofidentifi ably Chinese origin-became standardforthe poetryof the rest of the classical In spiteofthisdevelopment period.37 ofnativepoeticresources, it seemspossible, at least in the case of Tsurayukiand his contemporaries, forus to trace many specific aspects of theirtheory and practiceto the so-called"idiosyncratic" style of Liang (502-556), Ch'en (557-589), and earlyT'ang (618-907) poetry, and to account in part forthe appearance of a new "anonymoussubjectivity"in the Kokinsha by recognizing it as an attemptto adapt this strictly controlled technique to the Japanesetradition.38 There is also the story, too long to tell here,of the relationship betweenlesser cyclical changes in Japanese poetrywithinthe Heian period (784-1185) and the successiveinfluences of mid and late T'ang of a third poetry.Nor is it possibleto do moreherethan pointto the beginnings inthepoetictheory and cycleofChineseinfluence ofa strongly mysticalcharacter practiceof Shunzei and Teika in late Heian and early Kamakura (1185-1333) times.39 We may generalize, however, that in this second,early-Heiancycle,the
35 The Six Poetical Geniuses (Rokkasen) weretraditionally so designatedbecause they are the9th-century poetsmentioned bynamein Tsurayuki's Prefaceto theKokinshu: Narihira,Komachi,BishopHenjo (?816-90), PriestKisen (fl.c. 820), Bun'ya no Yasuhide (fl.c. 870), and Otomono Kuronushi(fl.c. 880). The first threeare the mostimportant. 36 KonishiJin'ichi, "Chaseibi no hi-Nihon-teki seikaku" ["The Non-Japanese Character of the Medieval Esthetic"],Bungaku,XXI (Sept. 1953),917-933. 37Kaneko,pp. 8-24. 38 KonishiJin'ichi, "Kokinshu-teki hyogen no seiritsu" ["The Formation of the Kokinshui Style"],Nippon Gakushiin kiyo, VII (Nov. 1949), pp. 163-198. The Chinesetermhere rendered "idiosyncratic" is i-p'ang,lit., "leaningto one side." 39 The poetry ofPo Chu-i (772-846), especiallythat of his later years, appears to have influenced Fujiwara no Kintoin hisattempt to bringgreater simplicity to Japanesepoetry, and thisChinesepoet's relativefreedom from conventional restrictions is said to have influenced Soneno Yoshitada's unconventional ofPo Chut-i style.The continuing importance



the esthetic affected: and permanently Japanese traditionwas fundamentally the Chinese from derived poets Kokinshui the which "elegance" or ideal ofmiyabi it gave to it an time at the same while freedom, tanka's took away muchof the which tradition literary of a strength enduring the and character aristocratic could last forcenturies.40 whichhas alreadybeen impulseof native Japaneseprimitivism The recurring of to the configurations ways complementary in describedis doubtlessrelated specifically and influence Chinese and lessercyclesof sophisticated thesegreater seems The vital blood ofthe Japanesetradition ofneoclassicism. Japaneseforms and neoclassicism alternating of cycles in systolicand diastolic to have flowed cena span of many over poetic tradition a to form and life giving primitivism, turies. III of the formaelementis that of cumulativedevelopment, Our thirdformative of classicalJapanesepoetry.Such tion ofwhatmay be called the greattradition scope than such a discussionas this,and a subjectobviouslyrequiresfargreater all we can hope to do hereis to establishthe elementand give someillustrations. is one ofsteady is that ofsecularchange:the greatclassicaltradition The element the constant throughthe centuriesand encompassing continuing development and one which and the cyclicelements.It is the elementof vitalityand growth but also declaresnot onlythat the classical age developedout ofits predecessor, likea Hitomaro,any morethana paintertoday that no classicalpoet could write may paintas ifhe werea Raphael. The past may be emulatedbut not re-created. as we mustifwe speak ofone age or another, To talk about partsofa tradition, to raise the bothersome periods,is, however, or if we comparepoets of different solution.Nonethereis no whollysatisfactory forwhich ofperiodization problem thatin each of by insisting up onlya fewperiods, we can hope,by setting theless, that and by admitting and pre-figurings, cross-currents thesethereare survivals, than artificial divisions-we can in steady development we are moreinterested perhapstalk in simpletermsabout the cumulativeelementin Japanesepoetry. or pre-Fujiare: first, the primitive The fourperiodswe may use forconvenience or Fujiwara-Nara period, wara period to A.D. 686; second, the experimental classical or earlierHeian period,784-1000; and fourth, 686-784; third,the first to the secondclassical or late Heian-earlymedievalperiod,1000-1225.41 Further we shall consideronly two subjects or themes-nature the discussion, simplify
and practiceoftheShinkokinshu poets. In and of later T'ang poetryis seen in the theory and to have been conappears to have been moreindirect, cycle,theinfluence the third nectedwiththerevivalofTendai Buddhismin the late 12thand early13thcenturies.See to shikan" pp. 42-45,54-59; and Konishi, "Shunzei no yuigentai Konishi,Bungakushi, and Depth' and the Tendai Conceptof 'Quiet Contempla["Shunzei's Style of 'Mystery tion"'], Bungaku,XX (Feb. 1952)108-116. p. 932. "Chuiseibi," 40Konishi, 41 We call the second period "experimental" because of the wide rangeof themesand of coursewent on in the poetryof this age. Experimentation modes whichcharacterize limits.See also n. 25. muchmorerestricted later periods,but within



and time; two relationships-thepoet to his materialsand the poet to his audience; and certainmattersoftechnique. The earlyperiodis obscured, to a large extent,in the darknessof prehistory, and we have smallhope ofknowing how muchthe poemswhichsurvivewerereshaped by later poets or whether theirattributed dates are at all accurate.But the poemswe do have seemto showthat one oftheirmostimportant characteristicsis the relationwhichtheyshowbetweenpoet and audience.These old poems deal withprimarily simplesubjectsand are almostalways declarations, whether to a lover,to one's selfand theworldbefore committing suicide,or to an emperor at timeofaccessionor sickness. Nature is almostalways used fordirectcomparison, and timeis onlypart of the situationofthe poem and not properly a theme at all. We can see this overriding importance of declarationin such a charming piece ofpoeticaddressas that ofthe youngbut willing PrincessofNunakawa to the Deity Eight-Thousand-Spears. Ya-chi-hoko no Kami no mikoto Nue-kusano Me ni shi areba Waga kokoro Ura-suno torizo Ima kosowa Chidorini arame Nochi wa Na-dorini aramuwo Inochi wa so Na shise-tamai Ishi-tafu ya Ama-hase-zukai Koto no Katari-goto mo Ko wo ba. Divine august one, Deity Eight-Thousand-Spears, Since I am only A tendershootfluttering, My heartis only A bird scampering on the shore! But oh, soon now! A plovereasy in the catching, And thereafter A bird completely yours; So hereafter Guard yourlifeand wait forme! Oh swiftly flying sun, Heaven-coursing messenger! Theseare thewords, The words forever sungYes, these.42

Such poems are not onlydeclarativebut almost completely occasional,whether real or mythical. in whichnatureand timeare onlythe vehicles This mode ofdeclarativepoetry of the declarationand in whichthe relationof the poet to his materialsis unresurvivesin the tankato the end of thisearlyperiod.The Consortof the flecting EmperorTenchi (626-71) addresseshis spiriton the occasion of his impending death. Aohata no Kohata no ue wo Kayou towa house Over yourflag-draped Hung withthe death-white hempenflags, Your spirithovers

42 Kojiki 3. The last 3 lines,and possibly chantedby 2, are a formula also the preceding Ko-ji-ki (2nd ed., and not properly part of the poem. See B. H. Chamberlain, the reciter, Kobe, 1932),pp. 92-93.



mo Me ni wa miredo mo. Tada ni awanu kca

Beforemy weepingeyes,whilefruitlessly I grievethat we can nevermeet again.43

than PrincessNunakawa's sweet reluctantamorous This is more sophisticated but the wholepoem is founded delay in its gentleassonanceand vivid imagery, upon the old techniqueofdeclaration. spannedby the Fujiwaraofthe century poeticachievements The remarkable Nara period(686-784) can be imagedin the geniusofa man knownto us in little more than name, Kakinomoto no Hitomaro. There were of course othersYamanoe no Okura, Otomo no Tabito, Otomo no Yakamochi, and so on-but of what Hitomarogave the Japanese traditionsurpassesthe accomplishments his skill with these othergreat poets. His brilliantsense of poetic structure, his response and modes,hiskindironies, creation ofnewforms imagery, hisfertile withsuch apparemerge humansympathy to publicoccasions, and his expressive has losta host of importhathistory thatone is almostconvinced ent suddenness poets. Hitomaro and the otherpoets of the period gave the tant transitional in themthe figure of the literary tradition a real status as literature: developing It may be said that in fullmaturity. than the obscurebard emerges poet rather his own traditionlies in his poeticcanon; he established Hitomaro'sbiography therewas a so-called"HitomaroCollection"-and withhimJapanesepoetryhas come of age.44 but The declarativemode survivesinto this period and indeed forcenturies, or in it in termsofpublic,that is social and national,themes, Hitomaroredefines termsofthebroadhumanity ofsuch poemsas that on "SeeingtheBody ofa Man LyingAmongthe Stones on the Island of Samine," whichends: Nami no tono wo Shigekihamabe Shikitaeno Makura ni nashite Aradokoto kimiga Yori-fusu Ie shiraba Yukitemo tsugen Tsuma shiraba Ki mo towamashi wo Tama-hoko no Michi dani shirazu There I foundyou, poor man!on the beach, Outstretched On this roughbed of stones, Amid the busy voices of the waves. If I but knewwherewas yourhome, I would go and tell; If yourwifebut knew, She would come to tendyou. not even the way hither, She, knowing Must wait, must ever wait, Restlesslyhopingforyourreturn!45 Your dear wife-alas

Man'yoshut148. Here we follow Takeda (Chushaku, II [Tokyo, 1949], 153), who explains the flags as having been set up for a religious service on the Emperor's behalf, and rejects the interpretation of kohata as a place name. For a different interpretation, see NGS, p. 7. 44 The Kakinomoto no Asomi no Hitomaro no kashil, or "Hitomaro Collection," appears to have been lost early in the Heian period, but many poems in the Man'yoshutwere credited by the compilers to such a collection. A number of these poems have certain primitive characteristics which have led scholars to assign them to Hitomaro's early period, and the collection is also believed to have contained poems by the poet's family and friends. See Sait6, III (Tokyo, 1939), 3-26. 4 Man'yoshut220, lines 31-45. The translation is from NGS, pp. 46-47.



Obohoshiku Machi ka kou ran wa. Hashiki tsuma-ra a poet, and a man; and the relais now at once a public figure, The poem-writer to theextentthat themost tionofthe poet to his audiencehas becomeformalized Yakamochi,somedecadentend ofthe tradition, poet at the somewhat renowned timesseemsalmost to be all poet and no man.46 as theme,althoughone treatedin directresponse, Time is now an important Okura's "Lament on the Instabilityof Human Life" so eloquentlyproclaims. girlsand bold lads, Okura concludesin Aftertellingwhat timedoes to carefree his envoy: Tokiwa-nasu Kaku shi mo ga mo to mo Omoedo nareba Yo no koto mo. Todomi-kanetsu How I yearnto be Unalterablywhat once I was, Immovable as a rock, But because I belongto thisworld There is no stop to time.47

forits beauties or Nature is an even morecommonsubject than time,whether its perils,but like time,it is treateddirectly;the responseis one of objective this description and imaginative Hitomaroshowshow sophisticated description. forothernaturalimages. mightbe whenhe uses naturalimages as metaphors Ame no umi ni Kumo no nami tachi Tsuki no fune Hoshi no hayashini miyu. Kogi-kakuru In the ocean ofthe sky Course the undulatingclouds, Risingby the moon-boat As it seemsto startits rowing of the stars.48 Throughthe forest

In this lovely poem, externalnature exists as somethingapart fromhuman nature. This separationbetween the poet and his materials-whethernature, but a balanced time,or humanaffairs-isnot alienationhere,it mustbe stressed, betweenthe subjectivespectatorpoet and his object. The resultis a relationship in the work of Hitomaro and tone of repose and balance whichis pre-eminent Yakamochi, Tabito, and commoneven to the more eccentricOkura, the softer and the otherpoets ofthe period. the earlierHeian period,conAt the end of the Nara periodand throughout developled to two important and poetic experimentation experience temporary in termsof the tanka,and theemerof the poetic tradition ments:the definition of the subject-the poet The new poeticimportance genceof a new subjectivity. and socializingof the poet's rolein the prehimself-builtupon the formalizing
46 See, forexample, betweenYakamochiand variousladies of his the gallantexchanges Some of these 1460-1464). 762-785,1448-1452, 727-755, 714-720, acquaintance (Man'y6shfl 181. in NGS, pp. 134-138, poemsare translated 47 Man'yoshua804-805. versionoftheenvoymay ofthechokaand a different A translation be foundin NGS, pp. 201-202. see NGS, p. 52. translation, 1068.For a different 48Man'yoshu7



protean that a poet played a sufficiently cedingperiod; upon the consciousness did, the sometimes poets as the earlier assume, even might he rolein his art that concept the and upon from himself; quite different of someone pose or personality experiof the details distort sensory art may that poetry Chinese from borrowed a creates truth. Narihira irrational and seemingly subjective of ence intopatterns asks, he when new reality and a bewilderment momentary Tsuki ya aranu no Haru ya mukashi Haru naranu wa Waga mi hitotsu Motono mi ni shite. Is thereno moon? is not the same Can it be this spring spring? As that remembered And this alone, my mortalbody, Remainsas ever withoutchange?49

that forthe moof the poet's subjectiveperception So intenseis thisexperience A Hitomaro nature. in all inhere which change of forces the mentit transcends and an of the past, glories the or traditions time-honored about mightwrite and lads on golden time of effects ruinous the with concerned be Okura might nature-reality and time century, tenth or ninth the of poet great but to a girls, led to poetic This subjectivity himself. apart from perhaps-have littleexistence ones of the ethical the than prevailingly metaphysical more were which subjects between age. Such themesas the meaningof love and the difference preceding speculum that of reader a as great concerns, constant are reality and appearance the Tale ofGenji,willrecall,and as we can see in Ki no Tomonori's(fl.c. amantis, 890) visionof naturebecomeso subjectivethat like a personit may growout of tunewithits own laws. Hisakata no Hikari nodokeki Haru no hi ni naku Shizu-gokoro Hana no chiruran. On thisday in spring When the lambentair suffuses Softtranquility, petals flutter Whyshouldcherry With unsettledheartto earth?50

As we mightexpect of such an age, the most subjectiveof all normalhuman love, is the greatthemeto whichtimeand nature are subordinated, experience, and the poet's usual audience is the beloved personto whom the poem is adas intomereconvention can degenerate But love poetryand subjectivity dressed. subjective the century of the tenth the end toward and easilyas any otherkind, mark on the althoughnot withoutleavingits permanent mode did degenerate, and made literary poetry Japanese had made and his age If Hitomaro tradition. The later self-conscious. and it modern made Heian poets earlier it great,the warsand of an age in rich tradition this inherited poets medieval Heian and early battles, the have celebrated might narrative poets while social upheaval, and themselves, more upon cast even so were and these poets were as always lyric, ofHeian societywas threatened. and natureonce the stability religion, tradition,
(Bungaku 747.The poemalso appearsin the3rdepisodeoftheIse monogatari 49 Kokinshii taikei,II, 38).



One ofthethings we noticefirst in someofthisnewpoetry is a qualityinherited by haiku:thepoet seemsto be writing to no audienceat all. It seemsthat,in part, Heian subjectivity was developed so faras to exclude any ostensibleaddressee fora poem.But alongwiththisdevelopment, therewas a countertendency which was veryun-Heian-the apparentwithdrawal ofthe personality of the poet into the background of the poem. We see both of thesealteredpoeticrelationships in Shunzei'sfavorite poem,whichis worthrepeating here. As eveningfalls, From along the moorsthe autumnwind Blows chillinto the heart, And the quails raise theirplaintivecry In the deep grass of secludedFukakusa. No one is addressedhere, and theredoes not seem to be any speaker to the poem-ostensiblythe scene simplyexists.It is veryrevealing to know,however, that this highly impersonal poem was criticized forbeingtoo overtly personal.It was said that the thirdline (mi ni shimite) was too explicitly personalin a poem already richwith emotionalimplication.51 Actually,none of the great poets of the time-Saigyo, Shunzei,Teika, and the rest-really excludedthe subjective presenceofthe poet. It is probablya good thingthat theydid not,sincethevital tension-the proper balance between personalismand impersonalism-lay in the effort, not in the success,to exclude the subjectiveself. We have a rightto ask, then,whattherelationwas betweenthe poet and his but of materials-nature and time. The poetryseems to be mere description, course it is not. The scene describedis usually nature,but a nature whichis ofman-of humanexperience ofbeauty,transience, symbolic loss,salvation,and so on. We discovera descriptivesymbolism, as it may be called, growing from the Buddhistideal ofthe onenessofa naturalorderwhichincludesman. Perhaps it wouldbe best to say thatthisideal is exploited, because as we have seen,Shunthe tensionbetweenthe zei does not reallyconveya Buddhistmonism;but from monistic ideal and the dualistichumanism ofpoet and nature,the late Heian and to the poetic tradition.There early medieval poets evolved theircontribution seems to be a similarstruggleto abolish or to transcendtime in this period. to assimilatepast with Shunzei's canon is richwithpoems engagedin the effort withfuture, and the like. The effort present, present fails,or at least we seem to is catalyticforthe poetry. becomeall the moreconsciousof time,but the effect Perhaps Teika realizes the ambitionto harmonizethe selfwith nature and to timebetterthan most of the poets of his age, as we can see from this transcend poem. Haru no yo no Yumeno uki-hashi The bridgeof dreams Floatingon the brief spring night

51This was the opinion ofthepoet-priest Shun'e (fl.c. 1160-80), according to his disciple whoreports themaster'sviewsin the Mumyosho. See Konishi,"Shunzei," Kamo no Chomei, p. 13.


527 Soon collapsed: Then froma mountaintop a cloud Took leave intothe open sky."2

Todae-shite Mine ni wakaruru Yoko-gumo no sora.

This styleofdescriptive symbolism had the effect ofstimulating a new skillwith imagerywhichwas bequeathed to Basho and the haiku,as we can see even in such a lesserpoet as Fujiwara no Sueyoshi (1152-1211): Sayo-chidori Koe kosochikaku Narumi-gata Katabukutsukini Shio ya mitsuran. Toward Narumi Beach The criesafar of ploversin the dark the nightWing nearerthrough Perhaps because the moon now sinks beyond And swelling tides race in upon the shore?"3

of the tankatraditionof the late Heian and early The storyof the development is a story, howmedievalperiodintothe rengaand haikuin subsequentcenturies ever,whichlies outsidethe discussionhere,exceptthat we may speculatethat whichform the same threebasic elements Japanesepoetryup to thispoint-the constant,cyclic,and cumulativeelements-continueto functionin later cento one of the world'sgreatpoetictraditions. turies, addingnew developments
62 Shinkokinshul 38.

648. 63 Shinkokinshul