Early Japanese Heian poet: The autumn, especially, is lonely

Early Japanese Heian poet: The autumn, especially, is lonely

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese poet Mibu no Tadamine belongs to the early Heian poetry scene in Japan. Sadly, not much is known about his actual birth and death. Hence, little is known about the things that reached his heart during his early years of life.

Despite this, his poems have passed the passages of time and remain of cultural importance. Thus, in the very late ninth century up until 920, he was a notable early Heian poet.

In one poem about the gradual bleakness of autumn he wrote:

In a mountain village
The autumn, especially,
Is lonely.
The braying of the deer
Continually awakens me.

Mibu no Tadamine became so esteemed that he belongs to the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals. Hence, with so little known about his internal traits, then all that is left is his poems and legacy. Thus, the fog of life is similar to the fog of what is known about him. Therefore, his words have even more potency because it is his poems that awaken the imagination.

In a rather melancholy poem he wrote:

As the great Araki
Forest flowers
Am I become?
To come and cut them (even for the sake of it)
No one visits at all.

The four court poets consisting of Ki no Tsurayuki, Ki no Tomonori, Oshikochi no Mitsune, and Mibu no Tadamine all helped to compose the famous Kokinshū. Sadly, Ki no Tomonori passed away before full completion. However, with the guidance of Ki no Tsurayuki, the Kokinshū (an exquisite collection of Japanese poetry) would leave a lasting legacy.  



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