Category Archives: Poetry Competition in Six Hundred Rounds

Love IX: 8

Left
恋妻はあらぬしらべしらべの琴の緒かあふことかたき音のみ絶えせぬ

koizuma wa
aranu shirabe no
koto no o ka
au koto kataki
ne nomi taesenu
My beloved wife:
Is it that untuned are
Our zithers’ strings?
So there is no harmony, and
Only my sobs are ceaseless…

Lord Suetsune
1095

Right (Win)
松風に通ふと聞きし琴の音も物思ふ時は身にぞしみける

matsukaze ni
kayou to kikishi
koto no ne mo
mono’omou toki wa
mi ni zo shimikeru
The wind in the pines
Resembles, I had heard,
A zither’s strains that, too,
When sunk in gloomy thought
Dye one so deeply…

Jakuren
1096

The Right state: saying ‘our zithers’ strings?’ (koto no o ka) is unsatisfactory. The Left state: if one is not depressed, would one not be deeply affected?

In judgement: the Left certainly sounds as if something is out of tune! The Right’s poem says that on hearing the wind pass through the pine trees, one would be affected. It sounds by no means distant from the topic. Thus, the Right wins.

Love IX: 7

Left (Tie)
昔聞く君が手馴れの琴ならば夢に知られて音をも立てまし

mukashi kiku
kimi ga tenare no
koto naraba
yume ni shirarete
ne o mo tatemashi
Long ago, I heard
Your favourite
Zither play – if that were me, then
In your dreams I would be known, and
Make a sound most sweet within your sleep…

Lord Sada’ie
1093

Right
わぎも子が心のひかぬ琴の音は我まつにこそ通はざりけれ

wagimoko ga
kokoro no hikanu
koto no ne wa
wa ga matsu ni koso
kayowazarikere
My darling’s
Heartstrings are not tugged
By my zither’s strains, so
Though I pine for her
‘Tis of no use at all…

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office
1094

The Right state: the Left’s poem gives the impression of being based on something – but what? The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgement: there is nothing unusual about the Left’s poem. It simply seems to be in the conception of the Man’yōshū poem where, ‘a Japanese zither made from the wood of the parasol tree transforms into a maiden in a dream, and says “When will / The day come that / I shall sing / Making his lap / My pillow?”’ I also have the feeling that it is alluding to the subsequent poem, however. So, it is certainly not the case that it is not based on anything. The Right’s poem has ‘heartstrings are not tugged’ (kokoro no hikanu) and then the metaphorical ‘though I pine for her’ (wa ga matsu ni koso), so is certainly not lacking in conception either. They are equivalent and tie.

Love IX: 6

Left (Win)
笛竹の聲のかぎりをつくしても猶憂きふしやよゝに殘らん

fuetake no
koe no kagiri o
tsukushitemo
nao ukifushi ya
yoyo ni nokoruran
My bamboo flute’s
Voice beyond its limits
Might I push, and yet
Still, would this sorrow
Remain – even to the world to come?

A Servant Girl
1091

Right
わが戀はまだ吹き馴れぬ横笛の音に立つれども逢かたもなし

wa ga koi wa
mada fukinarenu
yokobue no
ne ni tatsuredomo
au kata mo nashi
My love: like
An unpractised
Set of pipes
Gives out discordant sounds, yet
No chance is there to meet…

Lord Takanobu
1092

Left and Right together state: no faults.

In judgement: the Right’s pipes would seem to sound very youthful, indeed! As for the Left, although I feel I have heard such a conception before, because for the life of me I cannot recall where, the style seems tasteful. The Left wins.

Love IX: 5

Left
笛竹のただ人ふしを契とてよよの恨を残せとや思ふ

fuetake no
tada hitofushi o
chigiri tote
yoyo no urami o
nokose to ya omou
A bamboo flute has
But a single joint – and for but one night
Did we join together, so
Night after night of despair
Did you think to leave behind?

Lord Sada’ie
1089

Right (Win)
はるばると浪路分来る笛竹をわが恋妻と思はましかば

harubaru to
namiji wakekuru
fuetake o
wa ga koizuma to
omowamashikaba
Along the distant
Sea-lanes, forging, came
A bamboo flute:
My own true love –
If only I could think it that!

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office
1090

The Right state: the Left’s poem lacks any faults to mention. The Left state: the Right’s poem has not faults to point out.

In judgement: ‘night after night of despair’ (yoyo no urami o) in the Left’s poem sounds profound, but in actual fact is quite prosaic. In the Right’s poem, ‘sea-lanes, forging, came a bamboo flute’ (namiji wakekuru takefue o) has, I think, the contemporary conception of ‘it has come forging through many waves’. It seems evocative. Thus, the Right must win.

Love IX: 4

Left (Tie)
うらやましわがりこちくと笛の音を頼むる中の人は聞くらん

urayamashi
wagari kochiku to
fue no ne o
tanomuru naka no
hito wa kikuran
O, how I envious I am!
To my house comes, a bamboo
Flute’s strains – from
A trustworthy, loving
Man, it sounds…

Lord Suetsune
1087

Right
より竹の君によりけんことぞ憂き一夜のふしに音のみ泣かれて

yoritake no
kimi ni yoriken
koto zo uki
hitoyo no fushi ni
ne nomi nakarete
Bamboo flotsam –
That you should draw near
Is cruel, indeed, for
A single night together, brings
Only the sound of weeping…

Lord Tsune’ie
1088

‘Flotsam of bamboo’ (yoritake) and ‘comes, a bamboo’ (kochiku) are equally unsatisfying.

In judgement: ‘Flotsam of bamboo’ and ‘comes, a bamboo’ are of equal quality.

Love IX: 3

Left (Win)
さらぬだに身にしむ夜はの笛の音を憂き人ゆへに聞き明かしつる

saranu dani
mi ni shimu yowa no
fue no ne o
ukibito yue ni
kiki akashitsuru
Even were I not so in love,
On a night that chills the soul
The strains of a flute
For that cruel one
Drift to me ‘til the dawn…

Lord Kanemune
1085

Right
我ゆへに思はぬ夜はの笛の音も藻に棲む虫と袖は濡れけり

ware yue ni
omowanu yowa no
fue no ne mo
mo ni sumu mushi to
sode wa nurekeri
For my sake
I did not think this night
The flute’s strains –
A shrimp among the seaweed –
Soak the sleeves.

Jakuren
1086

The Right state: the Left’s poem is overly lacking in thought. The Left state: no faults.

In judgement: the Left has ‘for that cruel one’ (ukibito yue ni) – does this mean perhaps that one is unable to sleep as a result of someone’s cruelty? The reference to ‘a shrimp among the seaweed’ (mo ni sumu mushi) in the Right’s latter section feels overly abrupt and sounds lacking in connection to anything else in the poem. ‘That cruel one’ sounds somewhat insufficient, but it certainly has no faults. Thus, the Left wins.

Love IX: 2

Left (Tie)
よそにのみ隣の笛を聞き来しに我身の上に音こそ絶えせね

yoso ni nomi
tonari no fue o
kikikoshi ni
wa ga mi no ue ni
ne koso taesene
Simply a stranger to me is
The flute from next door
Drifting to my ear, but
Upon me fall
Nothing but endless cries.

Lord Ari’ie
1083

Right
夜もすがらよそに聞きつる笛の音の片敷く袖に移りぬる哉

yomosugara
yoso ni kikitsuru
fue no ne no
katashiku sode ni
utsurinuru kana
All through the night
I heard a strange
Flute’s strains;
On a single spread sleeve
Have they come to rest…

Nobusada
1084

The Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to mention. The Left state: we wonder about the appropriateness of the sound of a flute coming to rest on sleeves?

In judgement: both poems are about the ‘sounds of a flute’, with the Left having them ‘upon me fall’ (wa ga mi no ue ni) endlessly, and the Right resting ‘on a single spread sleeve’ (katashiku sode ni). Neither has a conception of love which is greater or lesser than the other. I must make this round a tie.

Love IX: 1

Left
独寝を今は何にかになぐさめん隣の笛も吹やみぬなり

hitorine o
ima wa nani ni ka
nagusamen
tonari no fue mo
fukiyaminu nari
Sleeping solo,
Now, how can I
Console myself?
For the flute next door
Has ceased to play…

Kenshō
1081

Right (Win)
よなよなは枕になれし笛竹のいかなる床にふしかはるらん

yonayona wa
makura ni nareshi
fuetake no
ikanaru toko ni
fushi kawaruran
Night after night
By my pillow used to be
A flute, but
What bed is it that
He has gone to lie in now?

Ietaka
1082

The Right state: the Left’s poem is mundane. The Left state: what does it mean that a flute is used to lying by a pillow?

In judgement: the Left’s poem has ‘for the flute next door has ceased to play’ (tonari no fue mo fukiyaminu nari), but I wonder if this should not be ‘for the flute next door will cease to play’ (tonari no fue mo fukiyamu). In the rhapsody which Xiang Xu wrote on thinking of times long gone, he says this about a neighbour playing an old flute, ‘Next door, there is a man who plays the flute. The sound emerges, echoing clear,’ without any suggestion that he has stopped playing, so I wonder how appropriate it is in this poem to say that the playing has stopped. The diction of the Right’s poem, ‘by my pillow use to be’ (makura ni nareshi) seems fine. Thus, the Right wins.

Love VIII: 30

Left (Tie)
忘れじの契うらむる故郷の心も知らぬ松蟲の聲

wasureji no
chigiri uramuru
furusato no
kokoro mo shiranu
matsumushi no koe
Never will I forget you –
Despairing of that vow
At home
All unknowing of my feelings
Comes a bell cricket’s cry…

Lord Sada’ie
1079

Right
來ぬ人の秋のけしきやふけぬらん恨みによはる松蟲の聲

konu hito no
aki no keshiki ya
fukenuran
urami ni yowaru
matsumushi no koe
He comes not, so
Is all seeming done, as autumn
Does wear on?
How I envy the weakening
Bell cricket’s song…

Jakuren
1080

Left and Right: both poems are equally admirable.

In judgement: the Left’s poem, with ‘all unknowing of my feelings comes a bell cricket’s cry’ (kokoro mo shiranu matsumushi no koe) is fine. The Right, with ‘is all seeming done, as autumn does wear on’ (aki no keshiki ya fukenuran), is too, so both Left and Right do truly move the heart, do they not? I have no way of distinguishing superior from inferior here, so thus must make the round a tie.

Love VIII: 29

Left (Win)
つらからん中こそあらめ萩原やした松蟲の聲をだに問へ

tsurakaran
naka koso arame
hagiwara ya
shita matsumushi no
koe o dani toe
Cold will
Our bond, no doubt, become, but
Among the bush clover
Eagerly awaiting, the bell-cricket’s
Call is all that I would ask…

A Servant Girl
1077

Right
夜もすがら人まつ蟲の鳴く聲を我身の上によそへてぞ聞く

yo mo sugara
hito matsu mushi no
naku koe o
wa ga mi no ue ni
yosoete zo kiku
All through the night
A cricket pines –
The song it sings
Upon myself does
Seem to dwell – or so it sounds…

Lord Tsune’ie
1078

The Gentlemen of the Right state: we have no reason to mention any faults in the Left’s poem. The Gentlemen of the Left state: the Right’s poem is pedestrian.

In judgement: both poems refer to ‘bell crickets’, with the Left saying, ‘our bond, no doubt, become’ (naka koso arame), then ‘call is all that I would ask’ (koe o dani toe), and ‘eagerly awaiting, the bell cricket’ (shita matsumushi) – all of these are extremely difficult to grasp, however, the Right’s poem is pointlessly pedestrian. So, the Left wins.