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The Pursuit of Harmony: Poetry and Power in Early Heian Japan

139 Pursuit of Harmony
Gustav HELDT
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The Heian court of the late ninth and early tenth centuries represents one of the most innovative and influential periods in the history of Japanese poetry. It witnessed the creation of entirely new forms of verse in poetry matches, screen poems, and officially sponsored anthologies, none of which had a precedent in earlier times. At the apex of these phenomena lay compilation of the Kokin wakashū (Collection of Poems Ancient and Modern), whose status as the first imperial anthology of native poetry would make it integral to Japanese court culture for centuries afterward. Despite the enormous historical significance of these new forms of poetry and the marked interest displayed by powerful individuals in patronizing them, however, little sustained attention has been paid to the ties between the practices of producing and performing verse and processes of economic, ideological, political, and social change in this period. This book is intended to address such issues through an investigation of the ways in which different members of the court community deployed poems in the pursuit of power. -- from the Introduction. | 466 pages


Abbreviations | A Note to the Reader | Acknowledgments | Introduction

  1. Heian Histories of Poetic Harmony
  2. Household Harmony in Uda's Poetry Matches
  3. Compiling Community in the Kokinshu
  4. Writing Yamato Verse in the Kana Preface
  5. Screen Poetry and Reflections of Power
  • Epilogue Yamato Verse and Yamato Japan
  • Appendix A Preface to the Ryounshu
  • Appendix B Preface to the Bunka shureishu
  • Appendix C Preface to the Keikokushu
  • Appendix D Choka for Ninmyo's Fortieth Birthday Celebration
  • Appendix E Kana Record of the Teiji Villa Poetry Match
  • Appendix F Kana Record of the Kyogoku Consort Poetry Match
  • Appendix G Preface to Poems for the Royal Procession to the Oi River
  • Appendix H Mana Preface to the Kokinshu
  • Appendix I Kana Preface to the Kokinshu
  • Appendix J Diagrams of Palace and Residence

Notes | Glossary | Works Cited | Index


  • Gustav HELDT is Assistant Professor of Japanese, University of Virginia.

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