Ki no Tsurayuki
Biography of Ki no Tsurayuki
Tsurayuki was a son of Ki no Mochiyuki. He became a waka poet in the 890s. In 905, under the order of Emperor Daigo, he was one of four poets selected to compile the Kokin Wakashū, an anthology of poetry.
After holding a few offices in Kyoto, he was appointed the provincial governor of Tosa province and stayed there from 930 until 935. Later he was presumably appointed the provincial governor of Suo province, since it was recorded that he held a waka party (Utaai) at his home in Suo.
He is well-known for his waka and is counted as one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals selected by Fujiwara no Kinto. He was also known as one of the editors of the Kokin Wakashū. Tsurayuki wrote one of two prefaces to Kokin Wakashū; the other is in Chinese. His preface was the first critical essay on waka. He wrote of its history from its mythological origin to his contemporary waka, which he grouped into genres, referred to some major poets and gave a bit of harsh criticism to his predecessors like Ariwara no Narihira.
His waka is included in one of the important Japanese poetry anthologies, the Hyakunin Isshu, which was compiled in the 13th century by Fujiwara no Teika, long after Tsurayuki's death.
Ki no Tsurayuki's Works:
Ki no Tsurayuki Poems
The Autumn mountains
The Autumn mountains Weave Autumn leaves For offerings, so Even I, living here,
My thoughts are drawn
My thoughts are drawn To a white mountain in Koshi Of which I know nothing; But there's not single night in dreams
Argent pearls Did my tears seem Yet with the passing years Chinese crimson
As the snow falls down
As the snow falls down, Sealing in Winter All the plants and trees, Unknown in Spring
Did I but know the way
Did I but know the way I would go and pluck, On Suminoe's Shore the sprouting
The Autumn wind
The Autumn wind Blew and since that day On Otowa Mountain The tips of the trees on the peak
Ceaselessly Falling the rains have swollen Into a river of tears.
Buried in Winter
Buried in Winter, How unexpected it is Between the trees To imagine flowers
Alone for you Autumn
Alone for you Autumn Has not come, Maidenflowers, So why do you colour
Harvesting wild rice
Harvesting wild rice Among the marsh waters of the Yodo: After rain, Extraordinarily the waters
The woodcutters Are felling palace logs all day, it seems, Leg-wearying From the mountains echoes
About the dawn
About the dawn, What can I say? But parting At night is far more
A singular Thing
A singular Thing, it was, I thought, yet From the water's depths, Not from the mountains' peaks,
A secret it is
A secret it is, but When I feel love rise, From leg wearying Mountains, the moon