Autumn II: 24

Left (Win).


nami yosuru
sawa no ashibe o
kaze ni tatsunari
shigi no hanegaki
A wave beats on
The marshy reed beds;
Roost broken, sorrowfully
Starting up into the breeze
The snipe work their wings.

A Servant Girl.




akenu tote
sawa tatsu shigi no
hito koe wa
hane kaku yori mo
aware narikeri
Crying that there’s no dawn yet,
Starting from the marsh, a snipe’s
Single call,
More that his beating wings
Summons sadness…



The Right wonder, ‘if it wouldn’t be rather difficult for a lightly beat its wings on taking off into the wind, as in the Left’s poem?’ The Left respond with, ‘In the Right’s poem, the accustomed reference to the sound of the snipe’s wings, seems subordinated to its cry. Is that right?’

Shunzei’s judgement: A snipe’s wing-beats on taking off into a strong wind are not that vigorous. ‘The snipe work their wings’ (shigi no hanegaki) is what they do, whether gently or not. However, this poem has more of a feeling of reed-bed dwelling birds like cranes, or plovers. In the Right’s poem, it’s not clear what kind of snipe it is ‘starting from the marsh’. The Left’s ‘reed-bed snipe’ should win.

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