Category Archives: Poetry Competitions

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.

Love VIII: 28

Left (Win)
あはれにぞ鳴あかすなる蛬われのみしぼる袖かと思ふに

aware ni zo
nakiakasunaru
kirigirisu
ware nomi shiboru
sode ka to omou ni
How sad it is –
Crying with the dawn is
The cricket, though
I alone am wringing
Out my sleeves, I feel.

Lord Suetsune
1075

Right
露深きあはれを思へきりぎりす枕の下の秋の夕暮

tsuyu fukaki
aware o omoe
kirigirisu
makura no shita no
aki no yūgure
Deep in dew and
Sad, I wish you were,
O, cricket,
Beneath my pillow
On this autumn evening…

Nobusada
1076

The Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults we can mention. The Gentlemen of the Left state: our feelings are the same as those of the Right

In judgement: both Left and Right are on ‘crickets’ (kirigirisu) and their configuration and diction sound equally elegantly beautiful. I feel that the Right, with ‘deep in dew and sad, I wish you were’ (tsuyu fukaki aware o omoe), is somewhat lacking in the conception of the poet’s own love, but the Left, with ‘I alone am wringing out my sleeves, I feel’ (ware nomi shiboru sode ka to omou ni), has an excellent conception of love, so I must state that the Left is the winner.

Love VIII: 27

Left (Win)
蟲の音も秋を限りと恨むなりたえぬ思やたぐひなるらん

mushi no ne mo
aki o kagiri to
uramu nari
taenu omoi ya
tagui naruran
The insects’ cries do
Mark the bounds of autumn
With despair;
Are endless thoughts of love
To be my only fellow?

Lord Kanemune
1073

Right
夏蟲もうら山しきは秋の夜の露にはもえぬ思ひなりけり

natsumushi mo
urayamashiki wa
aki no yo no
tsuyu ni wa moenu
omoi narikeri
The fireflies are
A source of envy,
On an autumn night
When dewfall damps down
The fires of my passion…

Ietaka
1074

The Gentlemen of the Right: the Left’s poem has no faults to mention. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we wonder about the appropriateness of ‘dewfall damps down’ (tsuyu ni wa moenu).

In judgement: the Left’s poem has been stated to be without fault by the gentlemen present. In the Right’s poem, I wonder if saying, ‘dewfall damps down’ is meaning nothing burns in autumn? On the matter of using the term ‘summer insects’ (natsumushi) to refer to fireflies, I do wonder whether it is appropriate to imply with one’s composition that there are no such insects in autumn. Although in the Collection of Poems to Sing Aloud, fireflies occur in the Summer section, among the same collection’s Chinese poems there is ‘in the dark before dawn innumerable fireflies start from the autumn grasses’. Furthermore, in Pan Anren’s ‘Rhapsody on Autumn Inspirations’ he says, ‘Glittering fireflies shine by the palace gate, and crickets sing from the eaves of the fence’. Even though there are countless cases of Autumn fireflies, how can one have composed suggesting that there are not? Thus, the Left wins.

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.