Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each): Poem 28 (Minamoto no Muneyuki)

Hyakunin Isshu, Poem 28

yamazato wa
fuyu zo sabishisa
hitome mo kusa mo
karenu to omoeba


in the mountain village
in winter
my loneliness deepens
as both grasses and visitors
have withered

Minamoto no Muneyuki (d. 939)

[Wintry fields near Kameoka, north of Kyoto]

This is a very clear and straightforward poem. Only "hitome" is unusual in the meaning of "people's visits," but that allows "karenu" to be a pivot word in the joint meaning of "to wither" and "to avoid." 

What makes the poem more interesting is what Mostow mentions about the setting in its time. He says that it functions in an elegant debate about which season is sadder, autumn or winter. Muneyuki's poem is then written in response to the assumption that autumn is saddest. Another point is that in Muneyuki's time mountain villages were regarded as desolate places, but in Teika's time they had become places to appreciate nature (Mostow 226). 

Minamoto no Muneyuki was a grandson of Emperor Koko (Poem 15). He has 15 poems in various imperial anthologies, of which six in the Kokinshu. 

References: Pictures of the Heart, The Hyakunin Isshu in Word and Image by Joshua S. Mostow (University of Hawai'i Press, 1996); Traditional Japanese Poetry, An Anthology, by Steven D. Carter (Stanford University Press, 1991); Hyakunin Isshu by Inoue Muneo, etc. (Shinchosha, 1990); Genshoku Hyakunin Isshu by Suzuki Hideo, etc. (Buneido, 1997); Ogura Hyakunin Isshu at Japanese Text Initiative (University of Virginia Library Etext Center); Hyakunin Isshu wo aruku by Shimaoka Shin (Kofusha Shuppan); Hyakunin Isshu, Ocho waka kara chusei waka e by Inoue Muneo (Chikuma Shoin, 2004); Basho's Haiku (2 vols) by Toshiharu Oseko (Maruzen, 1990); The Ise Stories by Joshua S. Mostow and Royall Tyler (University of Hawai'i Press, 2010); Kokin Wakashu, The First Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poetry by Helen Craig McCullough (Stanford University Press, 1985); Kokinshu, A Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern by Laurel Rasplica Rodd and Mary Catherine Henkenius (University of Tokyo Press, 1984); Kokin Wakashu (Shogakkan, 1994); Shinkokin Wakashu (Shogakkan, 1995); Taketori Monogatari-Ise Monogatari-Yamato Monogatari-Heichu Monogatari (Shogakkan, 1994).