A Japanese poetry has always been famous for the mystery and depth of imagery, symbols, and themes introduced in their poems. Therefore, yugen is chosen for comparing two genres of Japanese poetic works. The most noticeable poems of the period have introduced a series of anthologies unveiling various techniques, and approaches to rendering their thoughts and ideas.
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Though waka and renga genres have similar roots, the latter is a much more sophisticated outgrowth of waka poetry in terms of the length and narration techniques.
Among the most accomplished waka poets, one can highlight Shunzei and Emperor Go-Toba for whom the concept of yugen was decisive in delivering the natural imagery and symbolism represented in their poems. The poets of renga period, particularly Sogi, also aspired to the vivid expression of depth and imagery through the concept of yugen.
While analyzing the role of yugen in presenting waka and renga forms of poetry, specific attention should be given to the analysis of latent devices that poets made use of while presenting the significances and consciousness of a specific poem.
In this respect, specific attention is given to the poem 273 where the natural imagery is used to render the depth of grief and sorrow experienced by the residents of Fukakusa Village: “Daylight fades away and the autumn wind on the fields pierces to the soul…” (Poem 273 150).
By using the description of nature, Shunzei manages to render the atmosphere that differs from the configuration of words. In such a manner, his poems create an effect of mystery, depth, and charm. Similar approaches are heavily used by Emperor Go-Toba who manages to presents poems connected by themes, motives and images.
To compare the way the poet applies to yugen, a poem about autumn is presented: “Autumn progresses. / So cry out then, you cricket on this frosty night! / It shines a little colder now – the moon in that mugwork patch” (Poem 363, 185). At a glance, the poem describes the main characteristics of autumn as a season.
However, a deeper consideration of the poem allows the audience to conclude that it reveals the state of soul of a person who feels frustrated.
Sogi, a famous master of renga poetry applies to yugen to provide the mystery and depth of the poetry and make the reader read between lines. Sogi, therefore, presents dokugin where specific emphasis is made on metaphorical presentation of people’s sufferings through their comparison with the natural processes: “Even the withering is distinct in the crumpted shapes of plants, why is it.
Autumn, that though insects cry they love you hurry to your end” (Sogi, poem 9, 237). The presented stanza resembles a beginning of another hokku because it reveals the topics of preceding stanza and provides a foreword for creating the next stanza.
Yugen can be regarded as an ideal poetic device that was applied to discuss the aesthetic of a specific object. Because the main essence of this poetic style is to render motifs and themes in a more obscure way, the device was actively employed in various senses.
The concept was used to render a hidden idea through a word configuration, emphasize the technical complexity and subtleness while revealing the poem conception, and render the connotative meaning of richness as far as poetic diction is concerned.
In this respect, Shunzei was among the most skillful and refined master who applied to all three senses described above. In a series of his stanzas, one can face all features of this poetic style: “…I gazed out upon the sky above where you dwell and saw the haze parted there by a show of spring rain” (Love 153).
While analyzing the connotative meanings presented in the stanzas, the ambiguity of natural imagery can be replaced by the theme of frustrated love that is addressed to a woman.
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Go-Toba also applies to the comparisons with nature and seasons of the year to render the greater depth of the idea: “…spring has come at last to the sky above: in haze trailing on the slope of Kagu’s Heavenly Hill” (Poem 359 184).
As a master of renga poetry, Sogi also resorts to similar concepts in his stanzas: “Did I pledge myself…to these lovely flowers though I have renounced the world spring appeals with transient things” (Sogi, poem 16, 241). The renga poets are much more sophisticated in using the concept of yugen because of the complex synergy of natural description of the world and life philosophy.
As a proof, another stanza provides a continuation with a focus on the constant transition and changes in the world: “…spring appeals with transient things to put the world behind the growing haze acts…” (Sogi, poem 17, 241).
In conclusion, it should be stressed that both renga and waka poets attached similar important to the concept of yugen because it contributes to the mystery and depth of depicting such important themes as love, frustration, and loneliness. Despite that, the poetic style was more typical of renga poetry because it used provoking themes and poem structures.
Go-Toba. “Poem 359” Traditional Japanese Poetry (An Anthology) Ed. Steven Carter. US: Stanford University Press. 184. Print.
Go-Toba. “Poem 363” Traditional Japanese Poetry (An Anthology) Ed. Steven Carter. US: Stanford University Press. 185. Print.
Shunzei, “283. Love” Traditional Japanese Poetry (An Anthology) Ed. Steven Carter. US: Stanford University Press. 153. Print.
Shunzei. “Poem 273”. Traditional Japanese Poetry (An Anthology) Ed. Steven Carter. US: Stanford University Press. 150. Print.
Sogi, A Hundred Stanzas Related to “Person” by Sogi Alone. 234-247. Print.