Category Archives: Poetry Competitions

Love X: 6

Left (Win)
誰となく寄せては返る浪枕浮きたる舟の跡もとどめず

tare to naku
yosete wa kaeru
namimakura
ukitaru fune no
ato mo todomezu
To no one
Cleaving, they return;
Pillowed on the waves
The drifting boats’
Wakes fail to linger long…

A Servant Girl
1151

Right
何方を見ても忍ばむ難波女の浮き寝の跡に消ゆる白浪

izukata o
mitemo shinobamu
naniwame no
ukine no ato ni
kiyuru shiranami
Whither
Should I look in longing?
With a girl from Naniwa
I slept briefly, but her
Wake vanishes among the whitecaps…

Jakuren
1152

Both Left and Right together state: neither poem is bad.

In judgement: both poems seem elegant in configuration and diction, but the Right’s ‘girl from Naniwa’ (naniwame) raises the same issue as ‘diving girl’, only more so – there is not even evidence on this from inclusion in the Collection of Poems to Sing, is there? The Left’s ‘cleaving, they return; pillowed on the waves’ (yosete wa kaeru namimakura) really does seem like a pleasure girl, so I must say it is superior.

Love X: 5

Left (Win)
心通ふゆききの舟のながめにもさしてかばかり物は思はじ

kokoro kayou
yukiki no fune no
nagame ni mo
sashite ka bakari
mono wa omowaji
Her heart goes out
On the back-and-forth of boats
That fill her gaze, but
Surely her
Thoughts will not be as mine…

Lord Sada’ie
1149

Right
舟のうち浪の上なる浮き寝には立ち帰るとて袖ぞ濡れける

fune no uchi
nami no ue naru
ukine ni wa
tachikaeru tote
sode zo nurekeru
Within a boat,
Atop the waves
I sleep but briefly and
When I am to leave,
How soaked are my sleeves…

Lord Tsune’ie
1150

As the previous round.

In judgement: the use of ‘surely’ (sashite) in the final section of the Left’s poem sounds like it has been deliberately used to evoke a connection with the earlier ‘boat’ (fune). The initial section of the Right’s poem draws, yet again, on Mochitoki’s over-long line. The latter section also sounds like a deliberate use of evocative language, and the final line lacks impact. It is inferior to the Left’s poem.

Love X: 4

Left (Tie)
舟のうちにさしも浮きたる契までうらやむ程のえにこそ有けれ

fune no uchi ni
sashimo ukitaru
chigiri made
urayamu hodo no
e ni koso arikere
Within a boat
Such a brief
Bond is formed; yet
Do I envy it,
I really do!

Lord Ari’ie
1147

Right
その人と分きて待つらん妻よりもあはれは深き浪の上哉

sono hito to
wakite matsuran
tsuma yori mo
aware wa fukaki
nami no ue kana
There is her, and
My waiting
Wife:
Far fonder am I
Upon the waves!

Nobusada
1148

Left and Right state: neither has any fault.

In judgement: the configuration and diction of both poems sounds pleasant. I must make this a tie.

Love X: 3

Left
うき舟に一夜ばかりの契だになどありがたき我身なるらむ

ukifune ni
hitoyo bakari no
chigiri dani
nado arigataki
wa ga mi naruramu
In a drifting boat
A single night’s
Brief bond – even that:
Why so rarely
Do I get it?

Lord Suetsune
1145

Right (Win)
誰となきうき寢を忍ぶ海人の子も思へば淺き恨み也けり

tare to naki
ukine o shinobu
ama no ko mo
omoeba asaki
urami narikeri
Knowing not with whom
She’ll briefly sleep, and regret
Is my diving girl:
But considering, little
Will it trouble her!

Ietaka
1146

The Right state: ‘drifting boat’ (ukifune) fails to link properly with ‘single night’ (hitoyo). The Left state: although ‘diving girl’ (ama no ko) is used in the source poem in the section on pleasure girls in the Collection of Poems to Sing, we wonder about the appropriateness of simply using it to mean pleasure girl.

In judgement: there is no need to critique whether or not ‘drifting boat’ links with ‘single night’. In the final section ‘why so rarely’ (nado arigataki), though, makes me wonder why this should be the case! On the matter of the Right’s use of ‘diving girl’, our predecessors, including Lord Kintō, have provided poems on pleasure girls in the Collection of Poems to Sing, and who, indeed, would not utilize this? Furthermore, ‘knowing not with whom she’ll briefly sleep, and regret’ (tare to naki ukine o shinobu) certainly sounds like a pleasure girl! Thus, the Right must win over a pleasure girl finding it hard to get custom.

Love X: 2

Left (Tie)
浪の上にうかれてすぐるたはれめも頼む人には頼まれぬかは

nami no ue ni
ukarete suguru
tawareme mo
tanomu hito ni wa
tanomarenu ka wa
Atop the waves, and
Carried along helplessly,
Is even a pleasure girl
To a loving man
Unable to respond?

Lord Kanemune
1143

Right
波の上に結ぶ契のはてよりも戀に沈まん身こそうかれめ

nami no ue ni
musubu chigiri no
hate yori mo
koi ni shizuman
mi koso ukareme
Atop the waves
Form bonds
So brief – but more
Drowned in love
Am I, suffering so helplessly!

Lord Takanobu
1144

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

In judgement: both poems are certainly focused on the topic, with ‘atop the waves’ (nami no ue) and ‘helplessly’ (ukareme). The round ties.

Love X: 1

Left
蘆間分け月にうたひて漕ぐ舟に心ぞまづは乗りうつりぬる

ashima wake
tsuki ni utaite
kogu fune ni
kokoro zo mazu wa
nori’utsurinuru
Parting the reeds, and
Singing to the moon,
Boats come rowing out –
My heart, it is, that is first
Aboard and carried away…

Kenshō
1141

Right (Win)
浪の上にくだるを舟のむやひして月にうたひし妹ぞ戀しき

nami no ue ni
kudaru o fune no
muyaishite
tsuki ni utaishi
imo zo koishiki
Upon the waves,
Her boat departs,
Vanishing into the mist;
That moon-sung
Girl is dear to me, indeed!

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office
1142

The Right state: the Left’s poem lacks much of a conception of pleasure girls. In appeal: the poem was written in the conception of Mochitoki’s Chinese poem on pleasure girls ‘the reed-leaves are fresh in springtime’. The Left state: the Right’s poem has nothing worth mentioning.

In judgement: is the conception of pleasure girls really absent from the Left’s ‘parting the reeds, and singing to the moon’ (ashima wake tsuki ni utaite)? The case certainly cannot rely on ‘the reed-leaves are fresh in springtime’. A Chinese poem expresses its topic in its initial line. It is normal for the introduction of the topic to be vague. Japanese and Chinese poetry have aspects where they are similar, and aspects where they differ. Thus, it is not appropriate to cite a Chinese poem’s broaching of its topic as evidence for a Japanese poem’s content. There are certainly other examples by Mochitoki, such as his overlong line in ‘in a boat atop the waves, but I find the same pleasure in life’. The line about reed-leaves can in no way function as proof. Thus this poem, as ‘an old fisherman sings a single shanty’ could be said to be about an old man. As a result, given the lack of clarity in the poem, it is not possible to accept that it is about a pleasure girl. The Right’s poem concludes ‘that moon-sung girl is dear to me, indeed’ (tsuki ni utaishi imo zo koishiki). The final line seems to be almost pointlessly pedestrian, but the poem is certainly about love for a pleasure girl. The Right must win.

Love IX: 30

Left (Win)
忘れずは馴し袖もやこほこほるらむ寝ぬ夜の床の霜のさむしろ

wasurezu wa
nareshi sode mo ya
kōruramu
nenu yo no toko no
shimo no samushiro
If she should forget me not,
Would those oh so familiar sleeves, too,
Freeze solid?
In bed on a sleepless night
Frost forms on my chilly blankets…

Lord Sada’ie
1139

Right
分てこそ中より塵は積もりぬれ恋の病に沈むさ筵

wakete koso
naka yori chiri wa
tsumorinure
koi no yamai ni
shizumu samushiro
Split down
The middle, dust
Has piled up!
Sunk in the sickness
Of love upon this blanket!

Lord Takanobu
1140

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

In judgement: the conception of being lost in thought of another’s sleeves ‘in bed on a sleepless night frost forms on my chilly blankets’ (nenu yo no toko no shimo no samushiro) is certainly elegant. The scene in the Right’s poem, with the blanket divided in half, with one covered with dust, and the other where the speaker lies lovesick, is distasteful and I do not find it appealing, so thus, the Left wins.

Love IX: 29

Left (Tie)
人待つと荒れ行く閨のさむしろに払はぬ塵を払ふ秋風

hito matsu to
areyuku neya no
samushiro ni
harawanu chiri o
harau akikaze
Awaiting him in
A dilapidated room’s
Chill blankets,
The dust I’ve left untouched is
Brushed by the cloying wind of autumn.

A Servant Girl
1137

Right
夜もすがら泪ながるる狭筵は払はぬ塵も積もらざりけり

yomosugara
namida nagaruru
samushiro wa
harawanu chiri mo
tsumorazarikeri
All night long
My tears flow upon
My blanket, so
Even the dust I’ve left untouched
Does not pile up…

Jakuren
1138

The Right state: we wonder about the appropriateness of the autumn wind blowing into a bedroom. The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgment: while it does not sound as if there is a clear winner or loser between the ‘dust I’ve left untouched’ (harawanu chiri) used by both parties, why on earth should the autumn wind not blow into the Left’s bedroom? Really, there is no fault at all in saying that the wind will blow into a dilapidated bedroom! The Right has ‘dust I’ve left untouched’ flowing away with the speaker’s tears, and lacks any faults from beginning to end, but the configuration of the Left’s concluding ‘dust I’ve left untouched is brushed by the cloying wind of autumn’ is superior. The initial section of this poem is a little lacking, however, so both poems are equivalent and should tie.

Love IX: 28

Left
君とわが寝しさむしろの塵なれば形見がてらにうちも払はず

kimi to wa ga
neshi samushiro no
chiri nareba
katami ga tera ni
uchi mo harawazu
My love and I
Did sleep upon these blankets, so
Even the dust there
Is a memento –
I cannot brush it away!

Lord Suetsune
1135

Right (Win)
ひとり寝の床のさ筵朽ちにけり涙は袖をかぎるのみかは

hitorine no
toko no samushiro
kuchinikeri
namida wa sode o
kagiru nomi ka wa
Sleeping solo on
My bed’s blankets,
They have rotted away;
Tears on more than sleeves
Have that effect…

Ietaka
1136

The Right state: ‘did sleep’ (neshi) is particularly unimpressive. The Left state: ‘more than sleeves’ (sode o kagiru) is, perhaps, over-definite.

In judgement: in the Left’s poem, despite ‘did sleep upon these blankets’ (neshi samushiro) referring to something which definitely exists, it still sounds as if there is not much poetic expression in the poem. ‘Is a memento’ (katami ga tera) fails to resemble ‘for blossom viewing’ (hanami ga tera). As for the Right’s poem, I certainly would not say that ‘tears on more than sleeves have that effect’ (namida wa sode o kagiru nomi ka wa) is over-definite. It is somewhat difficult to make out on hearing, but the configuration is poetic, indeed, so the Right should win, it seems.

Love IX: 27

Left (Tie)
憂き身ゆへよがるる床のさむしろはしき忍び忍びてもかひやなからむ

ukimi yue
yogaruru toko no
samushiro wa
shikishinobitemo
kai ya nakaramu
My cruelty was it that
Kept him from my bed these many nights;
My blanket:
Should I spread it and think of him alone,
Would that have no effect at all?

Lord Kanemune
1133

Right
恋わびぬむなしき床のさむしろに幾夜いくたび寝覚しつらん

koiwabinu
munashiki toko no
samushiro ni
ikuyo ikutabi
nezameshitsuran
Sick am I of love –
In an empty bed’s
Blankets
How many nights, how many times,
Must I awake?

Nobusada
1134

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

In judgement: both of the ‘blankets’ (samushiro) of the Left and Right here seem elegant. The configuration of the Left’s ‘my cruelty was it that kept him from my bed these many nights; my blanket’ (ukimi yue yogaruru toko no samushiro) and the conception of the Right’s ‘sick am I of love – in an empty bed’s’ (koiwabinu munashiki toko no) are such that I find both difficult to put down. I must make the round a tie.