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Discussion: Poetry – Waka poetry 4

Discussion: Poetry – Waka poetry 4


Discussion Focus:

  1. begin your discussion of the Manyoshu by comparing the Yamato hero in the Kojiki to Yamato Takeru in the Manyoshu.  Feel free to extend your discussion to postulate how the Manyoshu demonstrates or strengthens political power for the Court. What values do you see the Manyoshu representing and endorsing?
  2. Consider the poems of Princess Nukada in close detail. Her poem comparing Spring and Autumn is incredibly famous; speculate on why, drawing on details in the text.
  3. Explain how poem 10 by Princess Kagami responds to poem 9 by Princess Nukada. Explore the ways in which poems are linked together to form a collection – a key literary value for artistic production at this time and in all of the Classical Japanese Poetic canon.
  4. Carter provides us with a sample of the poetry of each of the main compilers of the Manyoshu: Hitomaro, Akahito, Tabito, Okura and Yakamochi. Read Carter’s brief preface to each sample, and then either agree or disagree with Carter’s characterization of that poet. For example, Carter describes Okura’s poetry as didactic in style (among other things) – do you agree? What specific part of the text either convinces you that Okura’s style tends towards didactic, or makes you question Carter’s characterization of his poetry. Your discussion should treat each of the 5 compilers separately.
  5. Select some parts of the Kokinshu and speculate about how they are organized and linked to each other. Be sure to cite pages and poem numbers, and quote the poem if that is helpful.
  6. Carter concludes that this poetry is a “showcase for the courtly style.” How would you characterize that style? What values of the Court do we come to understand through these poems? What are some attitudes that the poems demonstrate towards power, travel, nature, love, or a theme of your own?
  7. Do you see any tension between the “public” nature of this poetry, and the voice of the individual? How private and how public are these poems? Select a specific poem to discuss.

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