Category Archives: Poetry Competitions

Love X: 16

Left (Win)
さざ浪や志賀津の海士になりにけりみるめはなくて袖のしほるる

sazanami ya
shigatsu no ama ni
narinikeri
mirume wa nakute
sode no shioruru
Rocked by wavelets
A fisherman at Shiga Bay
Have I become!
Glimpsing no seaweed,
How my sleeves are soaked…

Lord Suetsune
1171

Right
伊勢の海の底までかづく海人なれやみるめに人を思ふ心は

ise no umi no
soko made kazuku
ama nare ya
mirume ni hito o
omou kokoro wa
At Ise, to the sea
Bed dive
Fisher-girls: Am I one, too?
A seaweed-tangled glimpse of you
Lodging in my heart…

Jakuren
1172

The Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to mention. The Left state: neither beginning nor end is sufficiently forcefully expressed.

In judgement: the conception and configuration of the Left’s ‘fisherman at Shiga Bay’ (shigatsu no ama) certainly seem splendid. That is really all there is to say about this poem. To make a deliberate point of seeking out elements which sound difficult is a pointless activity for the Way of Poetry and an individual poet. As for the Right’s poem, diving ‘to the sea bed’ (soko made) is just something that fisher-girls do. The Left must win.

Love X: 15

Left
藻塩やく海人のまくかたならねども恋のそめきもいとなかりけり

moshio yaku
ama no makuka
tanaranedomo
koi no someki mo
ito nakarikeri
Burning seaweed for salt,
Scattering on the shore are the fisher-girls;
Not just so, but
From the tumult of love
Is there little respite.

Kenshō
1169

Right (Win)
思ひにはたぐひなるべき伊勢の海人も人を恨みぬ袖ぞ濡れける

omoi ni wa
taguinarubeki
ise no ama mo
hito o uraminu
sode zo nurekeru
In thoughts of love
Are we the same:
The diver girls at Ise,
Gazing at bay, with no sight of you
My sleeves are soaked.

Ietaka
1170

The Right state: there is a theory that ‘scattering on the shore’ (ama no makukata) is actually ‘waiting’ (matekata). How should this phrase be correctly be understood here? In response, the Left: the poem was composed from the standpoint that ‘scattering on the shore’ is correct. The Later Selection texts vary between ku and te, but ‘without surcease’ (itoma nami) is an appropriate expression for burning seaweed for salt. In both the Collection of a Myriad Leaves and the Tales of Ise there is the expression ‘ceaseless salt burning (shio yaku itoma nashi). In addition, there is the Ise Priestess Consort’s poem ‘Scattering on the shore, the fisher-girls rake seaweed’, where te would not be suitable. Izumi Shikibu’s poem:

伊勢の海の海人のあまたのまてかたにおりやとるらん浪の花なみ

ise no umi no
ama no amata no
matekata ni
ori ya toruran
nami no hananami
By the sea at Ise
Crowds of fisher-girls
A’waiting
To be plucked –
A row of blossoms on the waves.

is written with te, but ‘crowds of fisher-girls’ seems to suit the conception of burning seaweed. The Right still find fault: in the Muroyama Lay Priest’s Collection in a Tortoiseshell Mirror, Hideaki’s poem is written with mate. In addition, it evokes a scene of evaporation pools, and is there such an activity as scattering salt on the shore? In response: the salt kilns are on the shore. It is they which are scattered. People from the area have told me as much. In addition, mate could mean looking for razor clams (mategai) in the sand. And the girls would not be completely occupied doing this. In response, the Right: that is not the only possible meaning of mate. When the fisher-girls are busy with their work, and have no respite from it, one uses itoma nami. The Left have no criticisms to make of the Right’s poem.

In judgement: the Left’s poem, with the initial ama no makukata, followed by the final section ‘from the tumult of love is there little respite’ (koi no someki mo ito nakarikeri) fails to sound elegant. There should be no confusion over this issue. Lord Hide’aki’s poem in the Later Selection is plainly ‘a diver-girl does wait without surcease’ (ama no matekata itoma nami). On this matter, long ago when I was in attendance upon His Majesty, Emperor Sutoku, he presented me with the commentaries on problematic poems by a certain personage written as he remembered them, and His Majesty asked, ‘People say there are many errors in this text – is this true?’ to which I replied, ‘When it came to making things, there are errors in even those made by the wisest men of old. What you could call imperfect scholarship.’ In the midst of talking about this and that, I mentioned problems in the Later Selection, and that this matekata poem was written maku; I didn’t provide any commentary, just simply said, ‘This is matekata. The fact that there are texts which erroneously write maku have produced some doubt over this,’ and when people later heard that I had said this, his followers got confused and thought I meant maku was correct. ‘Without surcease’ (itoma nami) is particularly suitable for matekata. ‘Waiting’ (matekata) and ‘burning seaweed for salt’ (moshio yaku) are both things which fisher-girls do endlessly – there is no difference between them. Both the Collection of a Myriad Leaves and the Tales of Ise say ‘fisher-girls without surcease’ (ama no itoma nashi). Nowhere does it say ‘scattering’ (makukata). In addition, the shore where they burn seaweed for salt on the beach (hama ni shio yaku kata) bears no resemblance to scattering salt (shio o maku). Moreover, as for the Ise Virgin Consort’s poem, there are many texts which have mate, and any versions of both this anthology and of the Later Selection, too, which have maku are erroneous. There is also a poem in reply to the Consort’s poem ‘Scattered on the shore, / Raking, the fisher-girls gather / Sea-salt weed: / Where does the smoke / Rise to, I ask, my love?’ There are many who argue that this should be maku, but it simply means that the fisher-girls are busy. Matekata and itomanaki koto mean the same thing. In conclusion, we must have regard to the Later Selection poem. Hide’aki has left only a few poems, but was surrounded by poets of peerless talent. Whichever way one looks at it, he was not one to produce an erroneous poem. The Right’s poem has nothing special about it, but as the Left uses ‘from the tumult of love is there little respite’ which sounds old-fashioned and unpleasant, and there is no evidence that makukata is correct, the Right wins.

Love X: 14

Left (Win)
我恋はあまのさかてを打ち返し思ときてや世をも恨みん

wa ga koi wa
ama no sakate o
uchikaeshi
omoi tokite ya
yo o mo uramin
My love:
With my diver girl’s hands raised to heaven
I cast back
Knowing of these pains of love
The world is all despair!

Lord Kanemune
1167

Right
衣手はしほたるれどもみるめをばかづかぬ海人となりにけるかな

koromode wa
shiotaruredomo
mirume o ba
kazukanu ama to
narinikeru kana
Though my sleeves
Are drenched, as
Unable to catch a glimpse of seaweed
Like a hapless diver-girl
Have I become.

Lord Tsune’ie
1168

The Right state: there are various possible interpretations for ama no sakate. In addition, is it appropriate to compose a poem from the diver-girl’s perspective? The Left state: there is nothing to mention in the Right’s poem.

In judgement: the Left’s ama no sakate is not a particularly good expression, but I see no fault in composing from the diver-girl’s perspective. In recent times, people have come up with alternate interpretations for the phrase, but I see no reason for them. This old fool long ago composed a poem in this way. So I wonder, should I criticise my own composition? There is evidence for this in the Tales of Ise, and other texts, too. However, in poetry competitions, ama no sakate fails to sound appropriate. The Right’s diver-girl with sleeves drenched by the tide and unable to harvest seaweed seems incapable. She cannot be a genuine diver-girl. The Left’s sakate is not that elegant, but the girl is genuine. It wins.

Love X: 13

Left (Win)
潮風の吹こす海人の苫ひさし下に思ひのくゆる頃かな

shiokaze no
fukikosu ama no
toma hisashi
shita ni omoi no
kuyuru koro kana
The tidewinds
Blow across the fisher girl’s
Rush-woven roof;
Below, in fires of passion
Does she smoulder…

A Servant Girl
1165

Right
みさごゐる磯良が崎にあさりする海士もみるめを猶求めけり

misago iru
isora ga saki ni
asarisuru
ama mo mirume o
nao motomekeri
Ospreys hunt
Along the strand at Isora;
Digging for clams,
The fisherman, a seaweed-strewn chance at love
Is seeking still…

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office
1166

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

In judgement: the Left’s ‘blow across the fisher girl’s rush-woven roof’ (fukikosu ama no toma hisashi) is certainly elegant. The Right’s ‘ospreys hunt along the strand at Isora’ (misago iru isora ga saki) seems a kind of overblown style, yet the Left seems particularly pleasant in form. I make it the winner.

Love X: 12

Left (Tie)
一夜のみ宿かる人の契とて露結び置く草枕かな

hitoyo nomi
yado karu hito no
chigiri tote
tsuyu musubioku
kusamakura kana
For just a single night
Will he rent my lodging and
Make a brief bond of love;
Dewdrops tangled with
My grassy pillow…

A Servant Girl
1163

Right
結びけん契もつらし草枕待つ夕暮も宿を頼みて

musubiken
chigiri mo tsurashi
kusamakura
matsu yūgure mo
yado o tanomite
Tangled
Brief bonds are chill;
With a grassy pillow
She awaits the evening and
A request for lodging.

Takanobu
1164

Left and Right state together: both poems have only a faint conception of entertainers.

In judgement: both Left and Right have a ‘grassy pillow’ (kusamakura) and a faint conception of entertainers, as the Gentlemen have already stated. They seem to me to somehow resemble the poem by the Left in Round Nine. The Left’s ‘dewfall drops tangled’ (tsuyu musubioku) and the Right’s ‘brief bonds are chill’ (chigiri mo tsurashi) are both elegant. Once again, I make this a tie.

Love X: 11

Left (Tie)
東路や萱津の原の朝霧に起き別るらん袖はものかは

azumaji ya
kayatsu no hara no
asagiri ni
okiwakaruran
sode wa mono ka wa
On the eastern roads,
Upon the field of Kayatsu
With the morning mists
Does he rise and part, but
Are his sleeves as mine?

Lord Ari’ie
1161

Right
さまざまにうつる心も鏡山影見ぬ人を恋ふるものかは

samazama ni
utsuru kokoro mo
kagamiyama
kage minu hito o
kouru mono ka wa
Many
Hearts does she attract upon
Mirror Mount,
But with one whose face remains unseen
Would I fall in love?

Lord Takanobu
1162

The Right state: the Left’s poem is fine. The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgement: both poems are certainly by men entranced by thoughts of player-girls. The configuration and diction of ‘are his sleeves as mine?’ (sode wa mono ka wa) and ‘would I fall in love?’ (kouru mono ka wa) are both not unpleasant. Thus, I make this a tie.

Love X: 10

Left (Win)
一夜かす野上の里の草枕結びすてける人の契りを

hitoyo kasu
nogami no sato no
kusamakura
musubitekeru
hito no chigiri o
For a single night you lent,
At the estate of Nogami,
Your pillow of grass to me;
Entwined in
A brief bond of love!

Lord Sada’ie
1159

Right
恨むべき方こそなけれ東路の野上の庵の暮れ方の空

uramubeki
kata koso nakere
azumaji no
nogami no io no
kurekata no sora
My despite
Has no place to go;
Upon the eastern roads
Above a hut in Nogami
The sky is filled with darkness…

Jakuren
1160

The Right state: ‘for a single night you lent’ is grating on the ear. In addition, we wonder about the appropriateness of the final section. The Left state: the Right’s poem has no particular faults to mention.

In judgement: the Left’s ‘estate of Nogami’ (nogami no sato), and the Right’s ‘a hut in Nogami’ (nogami no io), then saying ‘entwined’ (musubitekeru) and ‘the sky is filled with darkness’ (kurekata no sora) – both poems have significant conception, but how should the initial section of the Right’s poem – ‘my despite has no place to go’ (uramubeki kata koso nakere) be understood? If it was a sky filled with light, then one would feel despite, but in the evening she would be lending her hut, surely. There is nothing unusual about the conclusion of the Left’s poem. It should win.

Love X: 9

Left
うかれめの浮かれて歩く旅やかた住みつきがたき恋もする哉

ukareme no
ukarete ariku
tabiyakata
sumitsukigataki
koi mo suru kana
Player girls do
Drift around
The inn-houses;
As unsettled
Is the love they make…

Lord Suetsune
1157

Right (Win)
東路やゆききの人にうちとけて宿かりそめの契すらしも

azumaji ya
yukiki no hito ni
uchitokete
yado karisome no
chigiri sura shimo
Along the Eastern Roads
Folk go back and forth, and
To relieve them, the girls
Find brief lodging and even make brief
Vows of love…

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office
1158

The Right state: the Left’s poem has no matters we can criticize. The Left state: the conception of Love in the Right’s poem is vague.

In judgement: The Left’s poem seem certainly to capture the conceptions of both Love and player-girls. ‘Even’ (sura shimo) in the Right’s final section, sounds rather abrupt and portentous, but the initial section is certainly elegant. Thus, the Right should win.

Love X: 8

Left
心ゆく野路の旅寝の友なくはいとど都や恋しからまし

kokoro yuku
noji no tabine no
tomo naku wa
itodo miyako ya
koishikaramashi
To ease my heart
While sleeping on my travels ‘tween the fields
I have no friend at all, so
How much more the capital
Does seem dear to me now!

Lord Kanemune
1155

Right (Win)
立ち宿る一夜ばかりの契だにさてながらふる人もある世を

tachiyadoru
hitoyo bakari no
chigiri dani
sate nagarauru
hito mo aru yo o
Lodging on one’s travels,
For just a single night,
A love
That lasts with
A lady does happen sometimes, yet…

Nobusada
1156

The Right state: the Left’s poem has no entertainers, or conception of love, either. The Left state: the Right’s poem lacks entertainers.

In judgement: it seems that the Gentlemen of both teams have already stated that both poems lack the conception of Love. However, they seem to me to both capture the conception of entertainers. The Right’s configuration and conception are fine. It should win, I think.

Love X: 7

Left
頼むなるあさけ神しも幣はせん君が心やわれになびくと

tanomu naru
asake kami shimo
nusa wa sen
kimi ga kokoro ya
ware ni nabiku to
Worship she does
The goddess Asake, so should even
I make her an offering?
Then might my lady’s heart
Trail in my direction…

Kenshō
1153

Right (Win)
鏡山君に心やうつるらむいそぎ立たれぬ旅衣かな

kagamiyama
kimi ni kokoro ya
utsururamu
isogi tatarenu
tabigoromo kana
Upon Mirror Mount
Has my heart
Found lodging? For
In haste to rise and don
My travelling garb, I am not!

Lord Tsune’ie
1154

Left and Right state: there are no faults to mention in either poem.

In judgement: both Left and Right here refer to a ‘person’ (kimi), with the Left’s ‘making her an offering’ (nusa wa sen) that she might ‘trail in my direction’ (ware ni nabiku ya), while the Right’s has left his heart on Mirror Mount and ‘is not in haste to rise and don his travelling garb’ (isogi tatarenu tabigoromo): each of these poems is evocative, and makes effective use of wordplay, with the Left’s ‘make her an offering’ certainly resembling something I have come across previously, but the initial ‘goddess Asake’ is poor. The Right’s ‘Mirror Mount’ (kagami yama) is something I am familiar with, and this has a gentle tone. Thus, the Right wins.