Japanese Poetry: The Roles of Poetry in Narrative Prose of the Heian Period

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The ninth century was one of major turning points of Japanese literature history, in which the kana syllabary was developed, along with abolishment of the legation to China (Handout 8). Moreover, the invention of the Japanese native writing systems served as a stimulus to the creation of a prose literature, as well as the births of prominent female writers (Handout 8). Two types of the prose went mainstream in the Heian literature: monogatari (tale) and nikki (diary) (Handout 8). Murasaki Shikibu’s Genji Monogatari (Tale of Genji) is probably the most famous work from the era and therefore I will focus on it as an example in the monogatari genre in this paper; as for the second genre, I will use Ki no Tsurayuki’s Tosa Nikki (Tosa Diary) in …show more content…
This part also reminded me of the chapter title and actually explained the author’s intension toward naming the title:
 I who never knew what it was the broom tree meant now wonder to find the road to Sonohara le me so far from my way. (p. 52)
Stricken with regret to have it known she was born in a humble home, the broom tree you briefly glimpsed fades and is soon lost to view. (p. 53)
In point of fact, apparently some of the chapters of The Tale of Genji contain poems that empitomize the chapter and/or its title, like the ones above from the chapter of The Broom Tree. Some other examples include:
 Poems exchanged between Yūgao and Genji:
At a guess I see that you may indeed be he: the light silver dew brings to clothe in loveliness a twilight beauty flower. (p. 57)
Let me then draw near and see whether you are she, whom glimmering dusk gave me faintly to discern in twilight beauty flowers. (p. 58)
 A piece Genji sung to himself, longing for Young Murasaki who has the same family lineage as Fujitsubo.
How glad I would be to pick and soon to make mine that little wild plant sprung up from the very root shared by the murasaki (p. 113)
 A sequence of poems between the Dame of Staff and Genji, when she unsuccessfully seduced him. This part may imply how noble Aoi was considered in the society, or the plot, in addition to how attractive Genji was. The kakekotoba: 葵 and逢う日(NAC Hiroshima) is
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