Kenrei Monin Ukyo no Daibu Shu (The Poetic Memoirs of Lady Daibu) (建礼門院右京大夫集)

Kenrei Monin Ukyo no Daibu Shu (The Poetic Memoirs of Lady Daibu) was a private collection compiled in the early Kamakura period with approximately 360 poems (including poetic exchanges with others). The selection is by Kenrei Monin Ukyo no Daibu herself, the daughter of Koreyuki SESONJI of the Sesonji style (Sesonji-ryu) (1155? - ?).

The author had been a lady-in-waiting for Kenrei Monin (TAIRA no Tokuko) under the name of Ukyo no Daibu since 1172 while the princess was still an Empress, but left the court after less than six years, later attending Emperor Gotoba and his real mother FUJIWARA no Shokushi for more than twenty years, although she was called by the name of 'Kenrei Monin Ukyo no Daibu' in the imperial anthology at her own request, saying that the past was unforgettable. This poetry collection was compiled in response to FUJIWARA no Teika's request around 1233, when he asked her to present some poems to select for the compilation of the "Shin chokusen wakashu" (New Imperial Anthology of Japanese Poetry) (Only two poems by Ukyo no Daibu were selected for the "Shin chokusen shu" but later, ten poems were selected in the "Gyokuyo Wakashu" (Collection of Jeweled Leaves)).

The first half of the collection starts with an incident in 1174, and while praising the empress's auspiciousness and the glory of the Taira family, she places her love affair with a younger noble, TAIRA no Sukemori (the Empress's nephew) at the center of the story, and describes the process by which she also became intimate with a famous poet and a painter, FUJIWARA no Takanobu.
The latter half begins with her parting with Sukemori, who was fleeing from Kyoto with his clan in July and August 1183, and describes her days of being solely immersed in reminiscences of Sukemori after he was sent to the ocean's bottom at the battle of Dannoura following the fall of the Taira family
In 1184, she sent a letter to Sukemori who had been in the southwest of the capital, but learned about his death in the water the next spring, and soon visited Jakko-in Temple, where she saw Kenrei Monin who had been rescued from the sea in Kyushu, and shed tears seeing how wretched she looked, composing this poem: 'I wander in confusion: is this a dream? Was the past a dream? However I try, I cannot believe in this reality.'
The author journeyed to Sakamoto, Mt. Hiei, to try to heal her wounded heart, but it took her a long time to get over her grief. After composing 50 poems having to do with the Tanabata festival, when The Weaver and the Cowherd meet, she holds a religious service for the repose of Sukemori's soul on the anniversary of his death, and wishing there were someone to mourn for her after her own death, her grief continues on and on.
When she was past forty, she became a lady-in-waiting for Gotoba in, and looked up at the moon at court again, but recalling the old days composed the poem 'The past that I force myself to forget even now, the clear moon calls me to remember.'
In the end, she describes the special reasons why she came to compile her personal collection, and closes the book with a poetic exchange with FUJIWARA no Teika.

This collection has a long foreword that has turned into prose, and it is a work that is placed in the line of poem-tales and literary diaries by women's hands rather than with personal collections. The author also clearly says in the foreword that she herself is not a poet, and that this work was a note for herself that traced the path of her life. Due to the Jisho-Juei Civil Wars, Ukyo no Daibu saw with her own eyes the untimely death of many high-ranking nobles in the Taira family who were close to her, and learned the ups and downs of the world and the transience and ephemerality of human life through her own experiences. Her poetry collection, which describes the tragedies born in a time of general upheaval, leaves a poignancy different from the 'ordinary' sorrow caused by simply losing one's lover, evoking strong sympathies from people who had a similar fate, and it is said that during the Pacific War, it was popular among women who saw someone they loved sent off to the front.

The remaining manuscripts can be divided broadly into the line of the Hosokawa bunko, belonging to Kyushu University Library, and the one in the Gunsho ruiju (A Classified Collection of the Japanese Classics). The one belonging to Kyushu University (Kyudai-bon) is regarded as the complete text, which was copied by hand sometime after 1260, by the middle of the Muromachi period at the latest. For commentaries, there is an annoted revision by Kimie ITOGA, "Kenrei Monin Ukyo no Daibu Shu" (Shincho nihon koten shusei), and the "Kenrei Monin Ukyo no Daibu Shu" (Iwanami bunko), an annotated revision by Senichi HISAMATSU and Jun KUBOTA, also includes the "Heike-kindachisoushi."

[Original Japanese]