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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 Style of Ineffable Depth (Yūgen)

The Style of Ineffable Depth (Yūgen)

(p.27) Seven The Style of Ineffable Depth (Yūgen)
Murmured Conversations
Stanford University Press

In Sasamegoto, Shinkei expresses the view that yūgen, a major aesthetic ideal of the medieval period, is primarily a state of mind and spirit (kokoro) rather than a matter of graceful or refined poetic configuration (yasabamitaru sugata). He also equates yūgen with his own central ideal of beauty of the mind-heart (kokoro no en). In this interpretation, Shinkei considers yūgen to be immanent in all poetry that reveals a spiritual depth, rather than a specific style. In this sense, yūgen is quite similar to Teika's concept of ushin, the mode of meditation. Shinkei also tends to oppose kokoro to kotoba and sugata as the poem's essential, internal core as against its external form. This distinction is consistent with his corresponding deemphasis on verbal ingenuity and technique.

Keywords:   Sasamegoto, Shinkei, Japanese poetry, yūgen, kokoro, ushin, kotoba, sugata

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