Thursday, September 6, 2007

Kokinwakashū Preface and the Shih Ching (The Book of Songs) Great Preface

According to the Great Preface 大序 to the Shih Ching 詩經, poetry is indistinguishable from history, its purpose is explicitly moral, and its style is to be in accordance with the mood and politics of the age. Specifically, the purpose of poetry is to correct governments that have gone astray, advise public officials, and encourage proper behavior between husband and wife.

By contrast, the Japanese, according to the Kokinwakashū 古今和歌集 preface, place the focus of poetry on symbolism (“they give expression to the meditations of their hearts in terms of the sights appearing before their eyes and the sounds coming to their ears”), subjectivity, and the communicative relation between reader and listener.

No comments: