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The Tale of Saigyō
translated, introduced & annotated
by Meredith McKinney

The Tale of Saigyo is a poetic biography of the late Heian poet Saigyo (1118–90), one of the most loved and respected poets in Japanese literary history. Its anonymous author followed the venerable “poem-tale” tradition by using 128 of Saigyo’s finest and best-known poems  and weaving around them facts and legends about the poet. The result is a biographical “journey” through his life. Saigyo moves from the life of a brilliant and favored young poet at the Heian imperial court, through a Buddhist “awakening” that leads him to cast off his worldly life and family ties and to transform himself into a wandering monk in search of salvation, through the vicissitudes of his long hard life on the road, to a final apotheosis as Buddhist saint in his famous death.

Published by Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan
Michigan Papers in Japanese Studies No. 25
Published 1998, 101 pp.
ISBN 0 939512 83 1, paperback, £10.99