Ota Nampo | Poem

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Ota Nampo | Poem

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Born to a modest samurai family in Edo, Ota Nampo received a Confucian education, and by his middle teens he had not only succeeded to his hereditary position as castle guard but also published a study of Ming-dynasty poetic terms. He continued his studies in Chinese literature all his life but became more famous for gesaku (writing for fun) under the name Shokusanjin. He especially enjoyed the humorous five-section kyoka (mad poem), which has the same 5-7-5-7-7 syllable structure as waka but is satiric in content. Although Nampo gave up this form for a time when the government forbade samurai to attend kyoka parties, he remained the quintessential master of this genre, which required both with and erudition. (Stephen Addiss: 77 Dances, Japanese Calligraphy by Poets, Monks, and Scholars, 1568-1868, p.44.)

 

The mirror like moon,
Open the barrel of sake,
Lie head down on.
Come snow, snow!
Bloom flower, bloom!

Teru tsuki no
kagami o
nuite
taru-makura
yuki mo
konkon hana mo
sakesake

Ota Nampo (1749-1823)

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