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Nature and/or poetry? Based on “A Poem of One Hundred Links Composed by Three Poets at Minase” (Minase Sangin Hyakuin, 1488)

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Iio Sogi is the best known renga master of Japan. He was of low origin (which is said by every encyclopedia and biographic essay); his family was in the service of the Sasaki clan. Some sources say the poet’s father was a Sarugaku Noh teacher, while others call him a Gigaku master; and his mother was born to an insignificant samurai clan, Ito. The image of Sogi - an old man, a traveler with a beard wearing old clothes and living in a shack - looks hagiographic and conventional Zen, rather than something real. Renga (linked-verse poetry) is a chain of tercets and distiches (17 syllables and 14 syllables), which is sometimes very long, up to a hundred, a thousand, or even 10,000 stanzas built on the same metric principle, in which a stanza comprising a group of five syllables and a group of seven syllables (5-7-5 and 7-7) in a line, is the prosodic unit. All those tercets and distiches, which are often composed by different authors in a roll call, are connected by the same subject (dai), but do not share the narrative. Every tercet and distich is an independent work on the subject of love, separation, and loneliness embedded in a landscape and can be easily removed from the poem without damaging its general context, although it is related to the adjoining stanzas.

About the Author

E. M. Dyakonova
Institute for World Literature Russian Academy of Science; Russian State University for the Humanities (RSUH)
Russian Federation


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For citations:

Dyakonova E.M. Nature and/or poetry? Based on “A Poem of One Hundred Links Composed by Three Poets at Minase” (Minase Sangin Hyakuin, 1488). Russian Japanology Review. 2018;1(1):25-39.

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