Category Archives: Poetry Competition in Six Hundred Rounds

Love VIII: 26

Left
さりともと待べき程の情かは人頼めなる蛛のふるまゐ

sari tomo to
matsubeki hodo no
nasake ka wa
hito tanomenaru
kumo no furumai
However faint, I thought,
Through all my waiting hours
Were his feelings,
He can be trusted,
Says the spider’s spinning!

Lord Ari’ie
1071

Right (Win)
はかなくぞさもあらましに待たれぬる頼めぬ宵の蜘蛛のふるまゐ

hakanaku zo
sa mo aramashi ni
matarenuru
tanomenu yoi no
kumo no furumai
Fleeting, but
So be it, then, I thought,
Awaiting;
How unreliable is this night’s
Spider’s spinning…

Lord Takanobu
1072

Left and Right together: both poems are about spiders, and have no faults to mention.

In judgement: both poems seem elegant in their reference to ‘spider’s spinning’ (kumo no furumai). However, the Left’s central section recalls ‘Men are not trees or stone – they have feelings’ – while this is elegant diction in Chinese composition, it does not seem so in our own poetry. The Right’s ‘so be it then, I thought’ (sa mo aramashi) is fine, but ‘unreliable is this night’ (tanomenu yoi) sounds as if the night is already over. Princess Sotōri, too, has ‘must surely come tonight’ (kubeki yoi nari), but then appears to have ‘a certain sign’ (kanete shirushi mo). Still, this is surely describing a situation where one once had doubts, but feel that tonight is reliable. The Right is slightly superior.

Love VIII: 25

Left
起きもゐで年ふる戀はをのづから常世の神やしるし見すべき

oki mo ide
toshi furu koi wa
onozukara
tokoyo no kami ya
shirushi misubeki
Unable to arise
From love these many years,
May I
By the eternal gods
Be shown a sign!

Kenshō
1069

Right (Win)
獨臥すながながし夜のかなしきを語らひあかすきりぎりす哉

hitori fusu
naganagashi yo no
kanashiki o
katarai akasu
kirigirisu kana
Lying alone,
So long, long the night’s
Sorrow;
Lightening it with chatter
Are the crickets!

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office
1070

The Gentlemen of the Right state: what is the meaning of ‘the eternal gods’ (toko no kami). In appeal, the Left: in the Chronicles of Japan, insects are worshipped under the name of ‘the eternal gods’ and made to seem like men. The Left state: what can an insect chatter about?

In judgement: in regard to the Left’s poem, while it is true that insects were worshipped, a poem on ‘Love and Insects’ with no insect is lacking something from the start. This poem would seem to be more a case of ‘Love and Prayers’. Thus, this is nothing enduring. A prior example has been contrived, but this is ineffective. It does not seem as if this insect’s nature has any relation to the topic. The Right’s poem has a commonplace cricket. Where is the fault in having it lighten one’s mood with chatter? Thus, the Right must win.

Love VIII: 24

Left (Tie)
この比の心の底をよそに見ば鹿鳴く野邊の秋の夕暮

kono koro no
kokoro no soko o
yoso ni miba
shika naku nobe no
aki no yūgure
Of late
Of the depths of my heart
Were you to catch a distant glimpse:
A stag belling in the meadow
On an autumn evening…

A Servant Girl
1067

Right
暮れかゝる裾野の露に鹿鳴きて人待つ袖も涙そふ也

kurekakaru
susono no tsuyu ni
shika nakite
hito matsu sode mo
namida sou nari
Twilight
Drapes dewfall on the mountains’ skirts,
With a stag’s sad cry;
Awaiting him, my sleeves, too,
Are wet with tears.

Nobusada
1068

Left and Right together: we find no faults to mention.

In judgement: it would be impossible to ever exhaust the overtones of feeling in ‘a stag belling in the meadow on an autumn evening’ (shika naku nobe no aki no yūgure) in the Left’s poem; in the Right’s poem the configuration and conception of ‘awaiting him, my sleeves, too, are wet with tears’ (hito matsu sode mo namida sou nari) is richly evocative. I find it extremely hard to put both poems down, so this round, again, is a tie of quality.

Love VIII: 23

Left (Tie)
身を捨てゝ思へといはゞ唐国の虎臥す谷に世をもつくさん

mi o sutete
omoe to iwaba
karakuni no
tora fusu tani ni
yo o mo tsukusan
‘Abandon all restraint, and
Love me!’ say that, and
In far Cathay,
In a valley where tiger’s lie
Would I end my life!

Kenshō
1065

Right
もろこしの虎臥す嶋もへだつらん思はぬ中のうときけしきは

morokoshi no
tora fusu shima mo
hedatsuran
omowanu naka no
utoki keshiki wa
In Cathay,
Isles where tigers lie
Stand in between:
A heedless love’s
Chill is such a sight!

Jakuren
1066

Left and Right together: both tigers do not seem to emphasise anything in particular.

In judgement:  both poems refer to ‘tigers’ (tora), with the Left having ‘a valley where tigers lie’ (tora fusu tani) and the Right ‘isles where tigers lie’ (tora fusu shima). These seem to be an attempt to differ from the standard ‘meadow’ (nobe). Saying ‘valley’ or ‘isles’ makes both poems sound modern. They are of the same quality.

Love VIII: 22

Left (Win)
唐国の虎臥す野邊に入るよりもまどふ戀路の末ぞあやうき

karakuni no
tora fusu nobe ni
iru yori mo
madou koiji no
sue zo ayauki
In far Cathay are
Meadows where tigers lie,
But rather than entering there,
The confusing paths of love
Are, at the end, more dangerous…

Lord Ari’ie
1063

Right
我宿は人もかれ野の淺茅原通ひし駒の跡もとゞめず

wa ga yado wa
hito mo kareno no
asajiwara
kayoishi koma no
ato mo todomezu
At my home
Is only a withered field
Of cogon grass;
The mount who once did cross it
Has left no lingering tracks…

Ietaka
1064

The Gentlemen of the Right state: how can love be dangerous? The Gentlemen of the Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgement: saying that the ‘paths of love are, at the end’ (koiji no sue) dangerous is perfectly commonplace. ‘Is only a withered field of cogon grass’ (hito mo kareno no asajiwara) seems to simply have taken the poem ‘Sedge fields lie / Around the estate of Fushimi, / All long overgrown; / He who passed across them / Has left no tracks at all…’ and swapped in ‘mount who once did cross it’ (kayoishi koma). Changing a man into a mount is discomposing, indeed. Again, the Left should win.

Love VIII: 21

Left (Win)
うらやまず臥す猪の床はやすくとも歎も形見寢ぬも契りを

urayamazu
fusu i no toko wa
yasukutomo
nageku mo katami
nenu mo chigiri o
I do not envy
The boar lounging in his bed:
He may be at ease, yet
Grief, too, is a memento;
Lying sleepless marks our bond…

Lord Sada’ie
1061

Right
いかにわれ臥す猪の床に身をかへて夢の程だに契結はん

ika ni ware
fusu i no toko ni
mi o kaete
yume no hodo dani
chigiri musuban
Somehow I
To a boar lounging in his bed
Would change myself, and
For just a brief dream’s length
Would form a bond with you…

Lord Takanobu
1062

The Gentlemen of the Right state: the initial line of the Left’s poem sounds poor. The sense of the ending, too, is difficult to grasp. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we wonder about the appropriateness of changing oneself into a bed.

In judgement:  both Left and Right refer to ‘a boar lounging in his bed’ (fusu i no toko), and it has been mentioned that the initial line of the Left’s poem sounds poor, and that its ending is difficult to grasp. There really are a number of unacceptable aspects to this poem, are there not, so I cannot add any further words to what has been said. The Right’s poem is not suggesting that one change oneself into a bed. It is saying that one should briefly become a boar, that one might dream briefly of love. How can one possibly see the dream of a boar lying asleep? It certainly seems inferior to ‘not envying a lounging boar’.

Love VIII: 20

Left (Tie)
いかにしてつれなき中を渡るべき足の音もせぬ駒のありとも

ika ni shite
tsurenaki naka o
watarubeki
ashi no oto mo senu
koma no aritomo
How, indeed,
To one so heartless
Can I make my way across?
Even a silent-footed
Steed had I to ride…

Lord Suetsune
1059

Right (Win)
道遠み妹がりがりいそぐその駒に草取り飼はんなづみもぞする

michi tōmi
imogari isogu
sono koma ni
kusa torikawan
nazumi mo zo suru
Long is the road
To go swiftly seek my darling, so
For my steed
I’ll go gather grasses
That he not tire along the way…

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office
1060

The Gentlemen of the Right state: we wonder about the appropriateness of making one’s way across when there is no ‘bridge’? The Gentlemen of the Left state: there are no faults to indicate in the Right’s poem.

In judgement: the gentleman of the Left has composed his poem referring to the conception of the Man’yō poem ‘A silent-footed / Colt I’d have: / In Kashitsuka, / The clapper bridge at Mama / To ceaselessly traverse!’, but must have misplaced the bridge somewhere. Truly, I do wonder how it is possible to make one’s way across in the absence of a bridge. Although to say ‘for my steed I’ll go gather grasses’ (sono koma ni kusa torikawan) is something commonplace, doing it to prevent one’s mount getting tired, despite the length of the journey, seems better than lacking a bridge.

Love VIII: 19

Left (Tie)
うち頼む人の心は荒熊のおそろしきまでつれなかりけり

uchitanomu
hito no kokoro wa
arakuma no
osoroshiki made
tsurenakarikeri
I placed all my trust
In her, but that heart is
As a wild bear,
Frightening in its
Cold cruelty!

Lord Kanemune
1057

Right
戀をのみすがの荒野にはむ熊のおぢられにける身こそつらけれ

koi o nomi
suga no arano ni
hamu kuma no
ojirarenikeru
mi koso tsurakere
Simply in love, but as
On the wild plain of Suga,
A hunting bear,
Fleeing in fear,
Pitiful am I, indeed!

Lord Tsune’ie
1058

Both Left and Right together state: the opposing poem is essentially the same as Toshiyori’s poem:

信濃なるすがの荒野にはむ熊のおそろしきまで濡るゝ袖哉

shinano naru
suga no arano ni
hamu kuma no
osoroshiki made
nururu sode kana
In Shinano
On the wild plain of Suga,
Of a hunting bear
I am so afraid
My sleeves are soaked!

In judgement: both poems are about ‘bears’ and sound old-fashioned, as the Gentlemen have said. They must tie.

Love VIII: 18

Left (Win)
鴨のゐる入江の浪を心にて胸と袖とにさはぐ戀かな

kamo no iru
irie no nami o
kokoro nite
mune to sode to ni
sawagu koi kana
Ducks flock on
The inlet’s waves
Within my heart, so
My breast and sleeves both
Are raucous with love!

Lord Sada’ie
1055

Right
佐保川の霧のまよひの程だにも妻もとむとて千鳥鳴夜を

saogawa no
kiri no mayoi no
hodo dani mo
tsuma motomu tote
chidori naku yo o
To the vernal river:
The mist brings confusion
And in its midst,
Seeking a mate,
A plover cries at night…

Jakuren
1056

The Gentlemen of the Right state: we wonder about the appropriateness of ‘my breast and sleeves both are raucous’ (mune to sode to ni sawagu)? The Left, in appeal, state: there is ‘the river-mouths of my sleeves’ (sode no minato) and ‘when I think, upon my breast’ (omoeba mune ni) so linking ‘breast’ and ‘sleeve’ is entirely uncontroversial. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we find no faults to mention in the Right’s poem.

In judgement: I understand the views of the Left’s poem held by both teams. It has also been said that the Right’s poem lacks faults. However, in ‘seeking a mate, a plover cries at night’ (tsuma motomu tote chidori naku yo o) only the two words ‘at night’ (yo o) have any conception of love. The remainder of the poem is simply about plovers, so there is little of love about it. ‘Breast and sleeves both’ (mune to sode to) should win.

Love VIII: 17

Left
山鳥のはつおの鏡掛けねども見し面影に音は泣かれけり

yamadori no
hatsuo no kagami
kakenedomo
mishi omokage ni
ne wa nakarekeri
A mountain pheasant’s
Tail of hempen cord this mirror
Does not suspend, yet
The face I saw there once
Makes me weep out loud…

Kenshō
1053

Right (Win)
面影をほの三嶋野に尋ぬれば行衛知られぬ鵙の草ぐき

omokage o
hono mishimano ni
tazunureba
yukue shirarenu
mozu no kusaguki
Her face
I did but briefly see at Mishimano
When I visited there;
I know not where has gone
The shrike hiding in the grasses.

Lord Takanobu
1054

The Gentlemen of the Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to mention. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we wonder about the appropriateness of combining ‘Mishima Plain’ (mishimano) with ‘the shrike hiding in the grasses (mozu no kusaguki). Is there a poem as a precedent for this? If not, is it suitable?

In judgement: both poems have the conception of love: of imagining the pheasant and his mirror, and weeping at the memory of a lover’s face; and thinking of the shrike hiding in the grasses, visiting Mishima Plain, and recalling the past. However, what should we do about the matter of whether there is a precedent poem for ‘the shrike hiding in the grasses’ on Mishima Plain? Surely, it could be any plain, so there is no reason not to use this. The configuration of ‘I know not where has gone’ (yukue shirarenu) sounds better than that of ‘makes me weep out loud’ (ne wa nakarekeri). The Right, again, must win, I think.