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  • Solo Poetry Contest as Poetic Self-PortraitThe One-Hundred-Round Contest of Lord Teika's Own Poems Part Two
  • Roselee Bundy (bio)

Teika-Kyō Hyakuban Jikaawase is Fujiwara no Teika's (1162-1241) poetic self-portrait, a selection of two hundred poems, from among the thousands in his oeuvre, that he regarded as exemplary. As discussed in the previous installment, Teika made his initial choice of poems in 1216. At the time, following a lull in formal poetry composition after the dispersal of the Shinkokin salon assembled by Retired Emperor Go-Toba , Teika was engaged in a renewed flurry of poetic activity linked to the salon that subsequently took shape under the patronage of Go-Toba's son Emperor Juntoku . In the same period he was working as well on the compilation of his personal collection, Shūi gusō, and these circumstances seem to have spurred him to review the entire body of his work up to that point and to distill from it the poems that best represented the various stages in his poetic career. Teika made minor changes in the jikaawase in 1217 and then, in 1232, undertook a final revision in which he replaced ten poems with verses composed after 1217.

The first installment of this article focused primarily on the overall organization of the jikaawase, examining it as a poetic genre that combined elements of the format of the utaawase (poetry contest) with structural patterns such as the progression of topics and flow of associations familiar from the imperial anthologies. The jikaawase had another important dimension as well, however: it served as an opportunity for Teika to indicate his personal critical perspective on his oeuvre, implicitly counterposing his evaluation to the variety of judgments [End Page 131] others had made of his verses over the years. The second installment will give primary attention to this side of the jikaawase.

On the basis of such exterior factors as Teika's own scattered descriptions and changes in patronage and place of practice, his career up to the time of the 1217 version of the jikaawase divides into four periods: youth and apprenticeship (1181-1184), marking the poet's debut under the guidance of his father, Fujiwara no Shunzei (1114-1204); the "Daruma" period of the Kujō/Mikohidari salon (1186-1199), in which, Teika later recalled, his stylistically radical poems were broadly condemned; the Shinkokin years of Go-Toba's patronage (1200-1208); and the Kenpō era of Juntoku's salon (1209-1216). In 1217, when Teika completed the initial draft of the jikaawase, his poetry and poetics were in a period of transition from the Daruma/Shinkokin style, of which he had been the leading practitioner, to his later styles. The 1217 jikaawase discloses the substance of that change as well as Teika's reassessment of his earlier, pre-1217 compositions. The last two and a half decades of Teika's life constitute a fifth period of poetic production. His style did not change substantially in this span of time, but in the years immediately before and after 1232, he undertook several major compilation projects, including the selection and organization of poems for the ninth imperial collection, the Shinchokusenshū and for Hyakunin isshu, his small anthology of one hundred poems by one hundred poets, and Hyakunin shūka (Outstanding Poems by One Hundred Poets). These events presumably served as an occasion for Teika to reflect on the 1217 version of the jikaawase and his poetic activities thereafter.

In compiling and revising the jikaawase, Teika seems to have sought to offer a balanced, chronological presentation of his career. Nearly every year of it, even those when he produced few verses, is represented by at least one poem. Paying heed to Teika's evident effort to review systematically his life as a poet, in this installment, after a brief examination of some of the overall principles that evidently shaped his selection, we will look more closely at the poems Teika chose to exemplify each of the stages in his career. Through this process we may hope to uncover as well some of the more specific criteria that informed his choices.

The Jikaawase as a Self-Portrait of a Poetic...


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