Fujiwara no Sada’ie (better known to history as Teika) (1162-1241) is one of the four greatest Japanese poets. The son of Shunzei, Teika lived to an advanced age constantly plagued by both recurring illness and reverses and advances in his family’s fortunes. Similarly, his poetry and critical writings also underwent a series of changes in the course of his life, leaving behind the most substantial and intense poetic legacy by a single poet in Japanese history.
Teika enjoyed an intense creative relationship with Emperor Gotoba, who commissioned him, with others, to compile the Shinkokinshû in 1202. The two men had different conceptions of the anthology’s shape, with Teika arguing for excellence above all, even rejecting some of his own poems as unworthy, and Gotoba wanting some lesser poems to offset the brilliant. Nevertheless, the collection, when eventually produced, was a triumph and is still reckoned as the second-greatest of the chokusenshū, following the Kokinshū.
Teika’s relationship with Gotoba was to sour, leading to a decline in his fortunes, but his poetic reputation remained high, and he was rehabilitated after Gotoba was exiled by the Shogunate in 1221. By this time, however, Teika’s illness kept him confined to his house most of the time, preventing him from attending poetry competitions at court. He was still able, though, to accept a commission for a second imperial anthology, the Shinchokusenshū, and complete numerous works of criticism and several exemplary collections of waka. Perhaps the best-known of these today is the Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, the ‘Little Treasury of One Hundred Poets One Poem Each’, which forms the base collection for the game of karuta, still a standard part of many Japanese families’ New Year celebrations.
Teika also, like his father, championed the Genji Monogatari, and his work produced the texts upon which are based modern editions of the Genji, the Ise Monogatari and, indeed, the Kokinshū itself.
Teika has the following poems on WakaPoetry.net:
|SKKS XIX: 1872|
See also his page as a contestant in the Poetry Competition in Six Hundred Rounds for a listing of his poems in that contest.