Gosenwakashu (Later Collection of Japanese Poetry) (後撰和歌集)

Gosenwakashu is the second imperial waka (Japanese poetry) collection compiled in response to a command issued by Emperor Murakami. Following the example of "Kokinwakashu" (Collection of Japanese Poetry, Old and New), it is in twenty books and the arrangement of the poems is as follows; three books are devoted to spring poems; one to summer poems; three to autumn poems; one to winter poems; six to love poems; four to miscellaneous poems; one to parting poems including travel poems; one to congratulatory poems including lamenting poems, and the total number of the poems is 1425. The arrangement of the poems is peculiar, in that travel poems are included in the book of parting poetry and lamenting poems are in the book of congratulatory poetry.


The date of presentation of the completed manuscript is not certain because, unlike Kokinwakashu, Gosenwakashu has no preface. However, it seems to have been presented by 957, because a chronicle shows that the poetry bureau was established at Shoyosha (Nashitsubo, Ladies' Quarters) in the court in November 951 and that the five officers in Nashitsubo, MINAMOTO Shitago, ONAKATOMI no Yoshinobu, KIYOHARA no Motosuke, SAKANOUE no Mochiki, and KI no Tokibumi, carried out works deciphering the text of the "Manyoshu" (Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves) and compiling a new imperial collection of waka, and that, as the head of the poetry bureau, FUJIWARA no Koretada directed the compilation. Tsuneya OKUMURA argues that it was completed between 955 and 958, judging from the way of spelling the poets' names. On the other hand, Hiroshi YAMAGUCHI argues that Empress FUJIWARA no Onshi held a chrysanthemum contest in Shoyosha on December 7, 953 and died the next year, and therefore Gosenwakashu had been completed at that time. However, neither theory is accepted.

FUJIWARA no Kiyosuke, Kigin KITAMURA, and Umashi NAKAYAMA assert the old theory that Gosenwakashu is an 'unfinished manuscript,' because of its lack of preface, lack of narrative kotobagaki (prose prefaces), the unsystematic arrangement of the poems, and repeat appearance of poems. Toshio MURASE argues that a draft was circulated and came down to following generations because the authorized manuscript was burned in the fire of the court on October 16, 960.


Unlike its immediate predecessor, Kokinshu, Gosenwakashu does not include the compilers' poems. Kokinshu poets figured prominently also in Gosenwakashu, which includes eighty-one poems by KI no Tsurayuki, seventy-two by Ise (a poet), and twenty-four by FUJIWARA no Kanesuke, partially because no more than forty years had passed since the compilation of "Kokinshu." Among the poets at the time of the compilation, FUJIWARA no Morosuke, FUJIWARA no Saneyori, and FUJIWARA no Atsutada are represented in the collection with the most poems, and the large number of poems by poets of the highest social positions are included, while female poets such as Nakatsukasa and Ukon are largely represented in the collection. The influence of uta monogatari (poem tales) probably let kotobagaki be longer. Or, narrative kotobagaki may have left unedited, because Gosenwakashu was the 'unfinished manuscript' as mentioned above. A feature of the collection is the large number of 'profane poems' based on the daily life of the aristocracy, such as the dialogue poems typified by the exchange between Emperor Uda and FUJIWARA no Tokihira, and between FUJIWARA no Nakahira and Ise.

[Original Japanese]