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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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The “Vulgar” Verse

The “Vulgar” Verse

(p.83) Twenty-Eight The “Vulgar” Verse
Murmured Conversations
Stanford University Press

Bonzoku is a Buddhist term which, in the secular sense, means “dull, trite, commonplace, common, vulgar, inferior, and mediocre.” Shinkei offers examples of vulgarity in conception or feeling (kokoro). There is absolutely nothing vulgar in the imagery and diction in the first verse pair, in which the tsukeku provides the reason for the intention expressed in the maeku of planting young pine trees. However, Shinkei objects to the poet's very deliberate logic, his almost calculating attitude, which is not consistent with the whole poetic imagery of pine, breeze, and moonlight. For Shinkei, the kokoro of the verse is lacking in quality. In the second example, a hokku, there is an expression of delight at the abundance of young shoots in the meadow. Shinkei's objection in this case is that the poetic appeal (en) of the image of “young shoots” (wakana) lies precisely in their rarity. Although this does not necessarily seem to be a vulgar verse, it is not particularly worthy in Shinkei's valuation because it has nothing but novelty.

Keywords:   Shinkei, bonzoku, Japanese poetry, wakana, vulgar verse, kokoro, hokku, vulgarity

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