A Critical Analysis Of Kokinshu Themes Classical Japanese Poetry Assignment

768 words - 4 pages

Sudo Nym
A Critical Analysis of Major Kokinshu Themes
I believe that the two key elements of a poem that stands a good chance of winning a
poetry contest are the poem’s capacity to elicit an emotional response, as well as the creative use
of rhetoric or display of wit. Of the poems from the second autumn volume that concern falling
autumn leaves (primarily poems 286 through 305), poem 305 by Mitsune strikes me as
particularly creative and a strong contender for winning a poetry contest.
At first, the story Mitsune crafts around the picture may not seem particularly
meaningful; however, upon further inspection we can see that the speaker, who is about to cross
a river, deliberately stops his horse beneath a tree just to admire scarlet leaves falling. This
simple, yet powerful image embodies the Buddhist concept of impermanence. The ephemeral
beauty of falling leaves is something worth taking the time to appreciate. The specific verbiage
used also creates a sense that the speaker has somewhere to be, but that the falling autumn leaves
are worth waiting for. The emotional response this situation elicits is truly profound.
In the last two lines, we see the creative juxtaposition of two ideas that tie back into the
rest of the poem. Mitsune likens the falling autumn leaves to rain, but also states that “the waters
will not rise”. This, of course, refers to the river that the speaker was about to cross; rain would
make it much more difficult to cross the river, in which case there would be no time to stop and
admire the scarlet leaves. These two lines contrast not just with each other, but with the idea
brought up in the beginning of the poem: the beauty of the falling leaves is fleeting, but while
they may be transient, we can still take time to appreciate them. This in turn adds to the
emotional effect of the rest of the poem. It is also worth noting that while we are provided
context around this poem and not others (except for 297), which may prevent us from seeing the
creativity with which the other poems were composed, 305 is still well written when read
without context.
A beautiful commentary on the Buddhist idea of impermanence, poem 305 makes use of
rhetorical elements and creates a powerful...

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