Yamanoue no Okura

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Yamanoue no Okura (山上憶良?, also written as 山於億良, 660?–733?) was a Japanese poet, the best known for his poems of children and commoners. He was a member of Japanese missions to Tang China. He was also a contributor to the Man'yōshū and his writing had a strong Chinese influence. Unlike other Japanese poetry of the time, his work emphasizes a morality based on the teachings of Confucius. Most ... more »

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  • Fabrizio Frosini Fabrizio Frosini (6/27/2016 1:25:00 PM)

    Little is known of Yamanoue no Okura (660 – ca.733) , beyond that he was a member of an embassy sent from the Yamato court to T’ang China in 701 and returned home some time later.

    It has been suggested that his family may have been Korean immigrants to Japan, but it is hard to know for sure.

    He is still reckoned as being one of the Man’yōshū‘s great poets, however, being unafraid to experiment with the form and introduce elements learned from his time in China. He has only 10 nagauta and 62 tanka in the collection, but did contribute some of the writing in Chinese.

  • Fabrizio Frosini Fabrizio Frosini (6/27/2016 1:25:00 PM)

    Of all the poets in the anthology, his work shows the strongest Confucian moral influence, especially in works such as his ‘Dialogue between the Poor and the Destitute‘.
    He is also admired for the simple humanity of poems such as those mourning the death of his son.

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Best Poem of Yamanoue no Okura

When I Eat Melons

Uri hameba
When I eat melons
Kodomo omohoyu
My children come to my mind;
Kuri hameba
When I eat chestnuts
Mashite shinowayu
The longing is even worse.
Izuku yori
Where do they come from,
Kitarishi monoso
Flickering before my eyes.
Manakai ni
Making me helpless
Motona kakarite
Endlessly night after night.
Yasui shi nasanu
Not letting me sleep in peace?

Read the full of When I Eat Melons

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