Love IV: 25


yodoko wa toga mo
naki mono o
konu hito yue ni
utoku narinuru
I swept clean
My bed tonight, and faults
Has it none, but
Because he has failed to come
I hate it now!



koi kanuru
ware o ba okite
tare ni sa wa
makura kawashite
imo ga nenuran
Unable to bear this love
Am I, abandoned;
With whom, I wonder,
Does she swap pillows,
When my darling sleeps now?

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.

The Right state: we wonder about the use of ‘faults’ (toga). The Left state: this style of poem is commonplace.

In judgement: both Left and Right are the same level, and there is no difference between them.

Love IV: 24

Left (Win).

ware to nagameshi
yūgure mo
narureba hito no
katamigao naru
Suffering with love
I have gazed
Upon the evening dark,
So used to it that it
Has become your keepsake!

Lord Sada’ie.


akebono no
aware bakari wa
kyō oba idezu
haru no yūgure
The dawn’s
Sadness, I do just
Bear, but, oh,
Today, it will never come –
The evening in springtime!


The Right state: when one understands the purport of the Left’s poem, it comes as a revelation. The Left state: in the Right’s poem we are unable to grasp the sense of ‘it will never come’ (idezu). In addition, the conception of Love seems lacking.

In judgement: both poems ‘evenings’ are support by little diction, yet the conception of Love is profound, indeed, such that my own shallow knowledge finds it difficult to grasp. However, the Right’s ‘Today, it will never come’ (kyō oba idezu) certainly does seem difficult to comprehend. I would have to say that the Left’s ‘So used to it that it’ (narureba hito no) is marginally superior.

Love IV: 23

Left (Win).

kimi mo mata
yūbe ya wakite
wasurezu harau
ogi no kaze kana
Are you, once more, my darling,
Spending this evening
On thoughts of love?
Faithfully sweeps
The wind across the silver-grass…

A Servant Girl.


toki shi mo are
omoi kana
aki no yūbe ni
hito wa wasureji
Of all the times there are, now
Does sadness
Most fill my thoughts;
On an autumn evening
Unable to forget her…


The Right state: we wonder about the appropriateness of ‘faithfully sweeps’ (wasurezu harau). The Left state: while the Right’s poem is in keeping with the conception of the topic, it seem as if the reference to ‘evening’ serves little purpose.

In judgement: the Left’s ‘Spending this evening on thoughts of love’ (yūbe ya wakite nagamuran) is appropriate, but I find ‘The wind across the silver-grass’ (ogi no kaze) somewhat problematic. The initial section of the Right’s poem, too, is not bad, but saying ‘On an autumn evening unable to forget her’ (aki no yūbe ni hito wa wasureji) suggests that forgetting is the norm, and I wonder about that. The Left wins on account of its initial section.

Love IV: 22


hitotsu hanarete
tobu tori mo
ne ni yuku kata wa
arikeri to miyu
As the evening comes
As a single, distant,
Flying bird
Going to roost do
I seem to be…



ima wa ware
mataji to omou
kokoro sae
mata kakimidasu
kumo no furumai
Now, I
Will wait no more, I think, and
My very heart
Is thrown into confusion by
The spider spinning…


Both Left and Right state: we find no faults to remark upon.

In judgement: the Left’s ‘flying bird going’ (tobu tori no yuku kata) and the Right’s ‘spider spinning’ (kumo no furumai) are both certainly not uncharming. I make this round a tie.


沢田川 袖漬くばかりや 浅けれど ハレ 浅けれど 恭仁の宮人や 高橋渡す アハレ そこよしや 高橋渡す

sode tsuku bakari
kuni no miyabito ya
takahashi watasu
soko yoshi ya
takahashi watasu
The River Sawada
It does soak your sleeves
Though it’s only shallow
Though it’s only shallow
Folk from the capital
Have put a great bridge across it!
For shame!
Is there any point
To putting a great bridge across it?

MYS III: 324

A poem composed Yamabe no Akahito  when he climbed Kamioka.

みもろの 神なび山に 五百枝さし しじに生ひたる 栂の木の いや継ぎ継ぎに 玉葛 絶ゆることなく ありつつも やまず通はむ 明日香の 古き都は 山高み 川とほしろし 春の日は 山し見がほし 秋の夜は 川しさやけし 朝雲に 鶴は乱れ 夕霧に かはづは騒く 見るごとに 音のみし泣かゆ いにしへ思へば

mimoro no
kamunabi yama ni
iope sasi
sidi ni opitaru
tuga no ki no
iya tugitugi ni
tayuru koto naku
aritutu mo
yamazu kayopamu
asuka no
puruki miyako pa
yama takami
kawa toposirosi
paru no pi pa
yama si migaposi
aki no yo pa
kapa si sayakesi
asagumo ni
tadu pa midare
yupugiri ni
kawadu wa sawagu
miru goto ni
ne nomi si nakayu
inisie omopeba
On the sacred
Mountain of the Gods
With many branches
Flourishing grow
Hemlock trees,
All and ever joined with
Always there
Ever would I be
In Asuka,
The ancient capital, where
Mountains mighty and
Rivers grand do lie, and
On spring days
It is the mountains I would see;
On autumn nights
The river, so refreshing!
Amongst the morning clouds
The cranes do swoop and soar;
The evening mists
Are noisy with the frogs;
The simple sights
Call forth my tears
While I think on times gone by…

Yamabe no Akahito

MYS I: 78

It is said that Her Majesty, when on the way to the capital, Nara, from the Fujiwara palace, had her palanquin halted at Nagaya-no-hara and composed this poem gazing at her former home.

飛鳥 明日香能里乎 置而伊奈婆 君之當者 不所見香聞安良武 [一云 君之當乎 不見而香毛安良牟]


tobu tori no
asuka no sato wo
okite inaba
kimi ga atari pa
miezu kamo aramu
A bird in flight:
If the estate of Asuka
I should leave behind,
Then my Lord’s lands
I will see no more.

Empress Genmei (660-721)

Love IV: 21

Left (Win).

aramashi ni
kokoro wa tsukinu
koyoi tote
mataba to omou
yūgure no sora
Wondering if it will it be
Has been the sole focus of my thoughts;
Tonight, he said –
‘If only you could wait,’ so thinks
The evening sky…

Lord Ari’ie.


kokoro sae
kakikurasu kana
tsukuzuku to
omoi irihi no
sora o nagamete
My very heart
Is sunk in darkness;
On and on,
Go my thoughts with the setting sun,
Gazing at the sky…

Lord Tsune’ie.

The Right state: we find no faults. The Left state: saying ‘on and on’ (tsukuzuku) seems somewhat weak.

In judgement: the final line of the Left’s poem sounds elegant. Again, I make the Left the winner.