Japanese Poems

by Lyanne Thomas
(Manila, Philippines)

Japanese Poems and Love Poetry - some beautiful poems and poets of Japan

Poetry has been a major Japanese influence and contribution to the literature of the world, but just like the many apects of Japan, Japanese poetry was greatly influenced by the Chinese.

Japanese poets were introduced to Chinese poetry during the Tang Dynasty, yet it took the Japanese poets time to fully grasp and include poetry in their culture. Nowadays the main forms of Japanese poetry can be divided into 2 types - experimental poetry and poetry intended or written to revive traditional ways.

Many famous poems or poetry from Japan are those about love and romance and range in tone from the spiritual longing of an isolated monk, to the erotic ecstasy and desires of court princes. Their classic haiku and tanka styles of poetry fully define and express love and longing.

Here are some of Japan's Famous Poets and their poetry:

Kakinomoto no Hitomaro:

He was the most prominent of the Man'yoshi poets. Hitomaro is famous for his long poems. Some of his masterpieces are:

"In the sea of ivy clothed"

“The Bay of Tsunu" and

"I loved her like the leaves."

Many of Hitomaro's poems were written on the topics of public occasions. His style makes use of figures of speech.

Ariwara no Narihira:

He was one of six Waka poets. As a waka poet, his thirty waka can be seen in Kokin Wakashu. Some of his works are:

"On the moon" and "Springtime and I have always known."

Ono no Komachi:

She was noted as a rare beauty. As a poet, Komachi's poetry specialized in erotic love themes and passionate love.

Yosa no Buson:

Yosa Buson - Yosa Buson was a haiku poet and a known painter.

Buson was born in a suburb of Osaka, Japan. He grew up as an orphan since he lost both parents while he was still young. In 1737 he moved to Edo (now known as Tokyo) to study painting and also to learn haiku poetry in the tradition of Basho. When one of his poetry teachers died in 1742, he toured northern Japanese areas associated with Basho and likewise spent some time in western Japan, finally settling in Kyoto, Japan, in 1751.

Buson was an active painter between 1756 and 1765, but he gradually returned to haiku, leading a movement to return to the tradition of Basho's style. He got married in about 1760.

Buson's major contribution to haiku poetry is his complexity and deep wit together with his painter's eye. His technical skill as an artist is reflected in the visual vividness and detail of his poetry.

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