Ariwara no Narihira (825-880), though an historical personage has become so confused with the legends surrounding him that little can be said of the circumstances of his life with any certainty. He was friends with Prince Koretaka, often accompanying him on hunting trips, and something of a lover, judging by his poems, but beyond that little is known. Many of his poems were compiled with others and used in the Ise Monogatari, ‘The Tales of Ise’, describing the life and exploits of a courtly lover. Tsurayuki named him as one of the rokkasen, the ‘Six Poetic Geniuses’, but noted that in his poetry his ‘heart’ (kokoro) is too great for his ‘words’ (kotoba) – that is, he often expresses a great number of ideas in the few words of a tanka – making his poetry some of the most difficult to interpret in the classical canon. Nevertheless, he was also the author of the most famous tanka of all (KKS XV: 747), on the moon and springtime.
On WakaPoetry.net, the following poems are by Narihira:
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