restricted access Kokka Hachiron Yogon Shui
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69 KOKKA HACHIRON YOGON SHŪI Kamo no Mabuchi | 1742 [After Arimaro had written his honest feelings about poetry, Tayasu Munetake wrote his own rebuttal, and then invited Mabuchi to contribute his ideas to the debate. Mabuchi produced this response in 1742. The current manuscript we have appears to be a draft, as it does not conclude as a completed manuscript should. For example, it only contains seven treatises instead of eight. Mabuchi’s ideas mirrored those of Munetake, and he argued that poetry constituted “a Way,” which allowed students to be schooled and molded, making government easier. Mabuchi argued that poetry accomplished this in three ways: one, people become governable through poetry’s power to change behavior; two, poetry creates a window through which a ruler can know the hearts of the people; three, poetry provides a vent for pent-­ up emotions. With this, Mabuchi defeated Arimaro who then lost his employment with Munetake. Mabuchi took Arimaro’s place, and this essay marked Mabuchi’s rise in prestige and authority.] THE ORIGIN OF POETRY The preface to Kokinshū records that poetry originated from the time that heaven and earth were created. This refers to the event in Kojiki where Izanagi said, “What a beautiful maiden,” and then Izanami replied, “What a delightful lad.” Though we cannot look upon these first divine words as poetic, in one of the variant quotes in Nihon shoki, we see the characters 唱 和 “bid and reply poetically.” It appears that the Shoki compilers considered this some form of poetry. Tsurayuki appears to have followed Nihon shoki’s reasoning. In Kojiki, when Emperor Jinmu asks for Princess Isukeyori’s hand in marriage, the poem produced between this princess and Ōkume has no ornamental words, with only three stanzas and an irregular meter.1 And in the reign of Emperor Suinin2 as recorded in the same work, the record says, 1. Poem KJK 17. The poem is as follows:   ametutu   Like the swift, tidori ma sitoto the wagtail and the plover: nado sakeru tome what big eyes you do have. 2. This song actually appears in the Keikō section, not Suinin. 70 Views on Poetry fasikeyasi How delightful! wagife no kata yo Clouds are on the horizon kumo itati ku mo in the direction of home. [KJK 32] This is a fragmentary poem. From these types of poems, we can infer that during the [early] era of men, the ancient Japanese labeled this type of poetry “fragmentary poems.”3 The poetic vocabulary was plain, since the poet sang what he felt in his heart. Poetry in the beginning of time had few words. Thus, shall we not call the honorable words mentioned above [from Izanagi and Izanami] the origin of poetry? These are my personal feelings. Now, in poetry there are epithets at the beginning of a poem like yakumo tatu idumo yafegaki.4 There are stanzas employing allegorical phrases like ana tama waya mitani futa watarasu.5 There are stanzas that compare the subject with something else, like famatu tidori yo.6 And some stanzas continue on like okitudori kamo tuku sima.7 Taking this all into account, we should say that these are the first songs seen in the ancient poetic anthologies , but I find it difficult to call these poems the origin of Japanese poetry. There are many poems from the era of Emperor Jinmu onward composed by various people that appear older than some of the poems in the divine age, and though I have my doubts, it is wiser to leave the debate as it is without attempting any conjecture. Poetry was sung. As far as singing, it was proper to have rhythm consisting of five and seven syllables. Most Chinese as well as Japanese poetry follow this pattern. Now, much of ancient China’s poetry consisted of four-­ character stanzas. In Japan, much verse originally contained a rhythm of four syllables. When the poet draws out his voice in singing, he guides his voice through inhalation. This preserves the rhythm of five and seven syllables . With the Yakumo tatu poem, one does not need to arrange his voice to preserve the 5–7 syllable rhythm. He can raise his voice as he wants and the meter remains regular. Though it seems that this occurs without any conscious effort, as I 3. Jpn. kata uta, literally “part of a poem.” These were generally the first or last half of a poetic sequence, though it is possible this is an archaic poetic form...


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