restricted access Niimanabi Iken
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265 NIIMANABI IKEN Kagawa Kageki | 1811 [Kageki wrote a rebuttal to Mabuchi’s Niimanabi, writing his own iken “objections.” Much like Norinaga valued Shin Kokinshū over Man’yōshū, Kageki argues that Kokinshū and its display of sincerity was a better model for students to use than Man’yōshū, which Mabuchi had argued for. Kageki is aligned, however, with Mabuchi and Norinaga in arguing for an authentic emotion from the poet, and not one written from a poet who puts on airs.] The work Niimanabi [by Mabuchi] states, “Ancient poetry mainly concerned itself with melody. This is because ancient poetry was originally sung vocally.” I, Kageki, believe there is no special reason for poetic melody being set other than it originating from magokoro [the true heart]. Poetry produced from magokoro was just a form of the universal melody of heaven and earth. And as the wind produces sound by striking objects, there is nothing that cannot be sung with an orderly melody if sung with sincerity. The same can be said for clouds and water. When clouds appear in the sky, they climb upward like waves, or they hang downward like drooping blossoms, or they spread outward like the scarf of a woman, or pile upward like a mountain peak. When water runs downward, the surface becomes rough, producing patterns; when the water comes to a deep spot, the water turns a deep blue; when it freezes over it appears like a mirror; when the water is violent and sprays upward, the surging energy produces white jewels. Thus, clouds and water are able to change a thousand ways, forming hundreds of variations, but none of them take shape because of any volition of the object. The clouds are blown about by the wind, and the rivers bend and shift due to the nature of the land. Poetic expression is much the same. A song produced in a short breath we label tanka, while a long-­ winded song is chōka; the variations come from the different ways we are impressed from visual and auditory stimuli. This great variation in expression is due to the various ways in which human emotions come into contact with objects. And just like a song naturally possesses its own melody, if a person has to work at a poem, adding various ornamentation, and yet cannot acquire a high degree of artistic melody, then it is because the person’s heart lacks mental sincerity and genuine beauty. And that is why ancient poetry had a natural beauty to its 266 Views on Scholarship melody. It is a great mistake to think that the poet consciously arrived at this melody. It may appear to the reader that there is only a subtle difference between the author of Niimanabi and myself, but because of an intrinsic difference, there is no way of getting around the tremendous problem this difference brings up. Also, the idea that ancient poetry was “sung vocally” means that the poet lengthened the words, drawing them out, and creating a melody, thus differing from the contemporary idea of singing to a tune. The original meaning of utafu is most likely to expel one’s breath in a long, strong fashion through puckered lips. And the word utafe “to bring forth a lawsuit” used in relation to governmental officials shows that one is giving voice to depressing feelings within one’s heart. Here utafe means to heave a deep sigh.1 And the practice of calling the cry of a chicken utafu is also because the animal’s voice is long and drawn out. When something occurs in society, we call the act of causing an uproar yo ni utafaru. This is likely a fragment of this original ancient word. Therefore, when one wishes to sing, he expels the pent-up feelings in his heart by drawing out his voice, so it is only natural that we call this action utafu. Because we have become accustomed to labeling “singing” something consciously produced from middle antiquity on, we naturally think of something with a melody attached. But this is thinking about the word backwards, looking at original meaning and derivation in the wrong order. If we look at singing as something done with a melody, that is only one form that appeared later. We cannot call this the original meaning of utafu. Even in ancient times, not all poems had beautiful rhythms, notwithstanding they originated from sincere feelings stimulated by some sensation . Because of this, the...


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