Treasure Island

Saigyo

(1118 - 1190 / Japan)

Biography of Saigyo

23 year old Norikiyo Satoh, an elite warrior who served the retired emperor, became a Buddhist monk and called himself Saigyo. His reasons for becoming a monk are not known.

However, it is said that the actual person was quite different from the rustic image one might have of a wandering Buddhist monk and hermit. He had connections with the highest authorities of his time, such as the retired emperor Suitoku, worked with Taira no Kiyomori as a warrior, met with the first Shogun, Minamoto no Yoritomo, and left us with many episodes from his time as a political coordinator, at which he worked even after becoming a monk.

He was, of course, also a famous poet. Since his death, his life has become legend in Japan. But where can we find the true Saigyo? Perhaps in the "suffering spiritual flower" of his poems.

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PoemHunter.com Updates

Having Seen Them Long

Having seen them long,
I hold the flowers so dear
That when they scatter
I find it all the more sad
To bid them my last farewell.

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