Saigyo säī´gyō [key], 1118–90, Japanese poet-priest of the late Heian, early medieval period. Born into a warrior clan, Saigyo studied with the most renowned poets of his day, producing relatively conventional poetry until taking the tonsure in 1140, when the priesthood seems to have afforded him the physical and spiritual freedom reflected in his mature work. Saigyo's extensive travels inspired verse on the pull of the secular world, old age and death, and the beauty of nature. The Sankashu [collection of a mountain hut], his major work, contains poems on love, as well as seasonal and miscellaneous topics.
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