Hyakunin Isshu, Poem 47
shigereru yado no
hito koso miene
aki wa kinikeri
to the cottage overgrown
with vines, layer on layer,
in its loneliness
no one visits
but only autumn comes
Priest Egyo (2nd half 10th c.)
[Shoseien (Kikokutei) in Kyoto]
This poem has a head-note which reads: "Written wen people were composing poems on the subject of 'Autumn comes to the dilapidated house at Kawarain.'" The Kawarain was the once splendid estate on the west bank of the Kamo river of statesman Minamoto Toru (poem no 14), which now, a century after his demise, is covered in weeds. After Toru's death it had become a sort of pilgrimage site for poets, who would come there to write poetry together, often in a melancholic mood. In the present poem, the change of seasons at Kawarain makes the poet feel the passing of time all the more acutely, and makes him aware of the transience of human affairs.
Shoseien garden (also called Kikokutei) in Kyoto, under the management of Higashi Honganji temple, has according to tradition been laid out on the very location where once the Kawarain stood. It was given to the temple in 1631 by the Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu, at which time it was reputedly partly redesigned by Ishikawa Jozan (of Shisendo fame) and Kobori Enshu. It has been landscaped in the go-round style, with various buildings arranged around a central pond. What is left of former greatness is by no means a first-class garden, but it is a pleasant park that deserves to be visited when in the neighborhood.
yaemugura: a general term for creeping vines and weeds that have overgrown an abandoned garden; "yae" means "layer upon layer."
shigeruru: the final -ru indicates completion.
yado: here not an inn, but a poetic term for a private house.
sabishiki ni: some commentators combine this with the previous "yado" to "sabishiki yado," a lonely dwelling," but others connect it with the following into "yado wa sabishii kara, hito wa konai," because the dwelling is lonely, people don't visit (but only autumn comes by).
koso: intensifier; "ne" in "miene" is a negative: "it is people we don't see."
aki wa kinikeri: it is a nice conceit that, while people have stopped coming, autumn (an unwelcome guest) never fails to visit.
Egyo (sometimes read Ekei; dates unknown, but he flourished in the mid-980s) was a representative poet of the Shuishu period. His associates were Shigeyuki (Poem 48), Yoshinobu (Poem 49) and Morosuke (Poem 42). They frequently met each other at the Kawarain estate of the priest Anpo, who was a descendant of the above mentioned Minamoto no Toru. Fifty-six of Egyo's poems were included in imperial anthologies and he was counted among the Late Classical Thirty-Six Poetic Geniuses.
References: Pictures of the Heart, The Hyakunin Isshu in Word and Image by Joshua S. Mostow (University of Hawai'i Press, 1996); One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each, by Peter MacMIllan (Penguin Classics); 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); Chishiki Zero kara no Hyakunin Isshu, by Ariyoshi Tamotsu (Gentosha); Hyakunin Isshu Kaibo Zukan, by Tani Tomoko (X-Knowledge); 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).
Photo of Shoseien: Ad Blankestijn
Hyakunin Isshu Index