Unformatted text preview: rary figure of the Genroku epoch, the poet Matsuo Bashò (1644–94),
was something of a mystic. Born into a low-ranking samurai family,
Bashò became a rònin or “masterless samurai” at the age of twenty-two
upon the death of his lord. Rather than seek similar employment elsewhere, the young Bashò, who had long been interested in poetry, abandoned his samurai status and, after studying for a while in Kyoto, moved
to the military capital of Edo. Edo remained his nominal home for the
rest of his life, although Bashò, like several famous poets of the past
(including Saigyò of the early Kamakura period and Sògi of the Higashiyama epoch), sought inspiration for his verses in frequent travels into
the provinces. He died of illness in Osaka at the age of fifty while on a
final journey whose ultimate destination was Nagasaki.
Linked verse, the major form of poetry in the late medieval age,
had, as we have seen, suffered the same fate as the classic waka from
which it was derived by becoming oppressively burdened with rigid stylistic and topical conventions. In the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, efforts, motivated by the rise of a townsman culture, were made
to liberate linked verse from the shackles of the past. One of the most
important figures in this movement was Matsunaga Teitoku (1571–
1653), whose Teimon school of poets asserted their right to go beyond
the restricted vocabulary of the traditional linked verse and to use more
prosaic and even vulgar language in versification. Yet, even though the
members of the Teimon school were significant innovators in the language of their poetry (commonly called by this time haikai or “light
verse”), they remained staunch traditionalists in their fidelity to the
topical dictates of earlier poets and to what they regarded as the inviolable spirit of the aristocratic linked verse of medieval times. Not until Fig. 55 Scenes from the puppet theatre (Consulate General of Japan, New York) The Flourishing of a Bourgeois Culture 195 the meteoric rise in the lat...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.
- Spring '13