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Murmured ConversationsA Treatise on Poetry and Buddhism by the Poet-Monk Shinkei$
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Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804748636

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804748636.001.0001

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On Hokku

On Hokku

Chapter:
(p.42) Ten On Hokku
Source:
Murmured Conversations
Publisher:
Stanford University Press
DOI:10.11126/stanford/9780804748636.003.0011

To the question of whether the lofty, calm, and simple style constitutes the hokku's “fundamental form” (hontai), Shinkei replied in the negative. Although he initially conceded that such a style is indeed proper for formal collections of waka and renga, Shinkei argues that there is no one single essential hokku form. He adds that a variety of forms arise due to the particular circumstances obtaining in each session, the inevitable shifts in taste from one period to another, and the poet's desire to be novel and original. To prove his point, Shinkei cites three head poems: one each from the Heian, Kamakura, and contemporary Muromachi periods. Shinkei bases his stand regarding the multiplicity of hokku styles on its role as the only verse in the whole sequence that is required to “record” the actual event by alluding to the place or the season, for example. Ultimately, Shinkei's argument on the multiplicity of styles, or the absence of an “essential form,” draws from temporality and emptiness, two of the principles of Buddhism.

Keywords:   hokku, Shinkei, head poems, Japanese poetry, style, form, temporality, emptiness, Buddhism

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