Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Guest Post By Anna: A Literary Canon of Women Writers, Part Four: The Eight Century to the Ninth Century

(Echidne's note: The earlier parts in the series can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.)

Lady Kasa was a Japanese waka poet of the early eighth century. 29 of
her poems were collected in the Man'yōshū; they were all love poems
addressed to her lover Otomo no Yakamochi who compiled the Man'yōshū.
The poems made her famous and inspired a later generation of female
Japanese poets such as Izumi Shikibu and Ono no Komachi. The Man'yōshū
is the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry, compiled some
time after 759 AD during the Nara period, and is one of the most
revered of Japan's poetic compilations.

Ōtomo no Sakanoue no Iratsume (c. 700-750) was a Japanese poet,
important in her time, with 79 of her poems collected in the Man'yōshū.

Xue Tao (768-831) was one of the three best-known female Chinese poets
from the Tang Dynasty, though there were many others. Wei Gao, the
military governor of Xichuan Circuit, made her his official hostess due
to her poetry. In this position she was able to exchange poems with
many well-known writers of the day, and she continued as hostess after
Wei's death. In later years, Xue was able to live independently in a
site outside the city associated with the great poet of an earlier
generation, Du Fu. Some sources record that she supported herself as a
maker of artisanal paper used for writing poems. A contemporary wrote
that she took on the garments of a Daoist adept, signaling a relatively
autonomous status within Tang society. Some 450 poems by Xue were
gathered in The Brocade River Collection that survived until the 14th
century. About 100 poems of her are known nowadays, which is more than
of any other Tang dynasty woman. They range widely in tone and topic,
giving evidence of knowledge of the great tradition of earlier Chinese
poetry. Hsueh T'ao, a Venusian crater, is named after her.

Kassia (c. 810 - bef. 865) was a Byzantine abbess, poet, composer, and
hymnographer. She is one of the first medieval composers whose scores
are both still existing and able to be interpreted by modern scholars
and musicians. Approximately fifty of her hymns are still existing, and
twenty-three are included in Orthodox Church liturgical books. However,
the exact number is difficult to determine since many hymns are
ascribed to different authors in different manuscripts and are often
identified as anonymous. Approximately 789 of her non-liturgical verses
survive, many of them epigrams, for example, "I hate the rich man
moaning as if he were poor."

Yu Xuanji (c. 844-869) was a Late Tang Dynasty Chinese poet, orchid.
She is distinctive for many of her poems being written in her own voice
rather than speaking through a persona. She is one of relatively few
early female Chinese poets, at least that we know of today. In her
lifetime, her poems were published as a collection called "Fragments of
a Northern Dreamland", which has been lost. Her forty-nine surviving
poems were collected in the Song Dynasty mainly for their freak value
in an anthology that also included poems from ghosts and foreigners.
These poems were first translated into English in 1998, and are
available as "The Clouds Float North: The Complete Poems of Yu
Xuanji," translated by Young, David and Jiann I. Lin. (Wesleyan
University Press: Hanover and London, 1998.)