Category Archives: Poetry Competitions

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.

Love IX: 26

Left
君ゆへにわれさへうとく成はてゝ塵のみゐたる床のさむしろ

kimi yue ni
ware sae utoku
narihatete
chiri nomi itaru
toko no samushiro
For him
So distant have I
Become;
Dust alone gathers
On the matting of my bed.

Lord Ari’ie
1131

Right (Win)
さむしろも哀とや思ふあらましに來ぬ君待つとうち拂ふをば

samushiro mo
aware to ya omou
aramashi ni
konu kimi matsu to
uchiharau o ba
Does my matting, too,
Feel pity,
I wonder?
As waiting for one who never comes
I sweep it clean…

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office
1132

The Right state: the Left’s poem is not bad. The Left state: the final section of the Right’s poem is unsatisfactory.

In judgement: Both poems use ‘matting’ (samushiro), and the Left’s is not bad in form, but the theme of a person who has grown to hate their own bed so much that dust alone gathers there is completely different from that of the previous round – what sort of lover might they have had, one wonders! Although I wonder about the final section of the Right’s poem, it does not seem to regret the overall conception of love and so wins the round.

Love IX: 25

Left (Tie)
出にける君が夜床の狭筵にひとり寝してや肌を触れまし

idenikeru
kimi ga yodoko no
samushiro ni
hitorineshite ya
hada o furemashi
Departed
Is he from our bed tonight, so
On his blanket
Should I sleep alone,
Might I touch his skin?

Kenshō
1129

Right
綾むしろ立ち寄る人はなけれどもあらましにのみ敷きてこそ待て

ayamushiro
tachiyoru hito wa
nakeredomo
aramashi ni nomi
shikite koso mate
To my patterned blanket
He has not
Drawn near, yet
In simple longing
Will I spread it and await him…

Lord Tsune’ie
1130

Both Left and Right together state: this seems somewhat jocular.

In judgement: the Left’s conception of starting with ‘departed’ (idenikeru), as the poem of a woman sleeping alone and finding traces of a the man who has left on the blanket, sounds extremely poor in style. On the other hand, if it is a man’s poem, has he come upon the traces of a woman after she has left? In any case, whichever it is the initial line is not good at all. The Right’s poem, with its ‘to my patterned blanket he has not drawn near, yet’ (ayamushiro tachiyoru hito wa nakeredomo), also appears to be a woman’s poem. The Left’s humour, and the Right’s longing, are both eccentric. The round must tie.

Love IX: 24

Left (Win)
からあひの八入の衣色深くなどあながちにつらき心ぞ

kara’ai no
yashio no koromo
iro fukaku
nado anagachi ni
tsuraki kokoro zo
Deepest indigo
Dipped many times, my robe’s
Hue is dark, indeed;
Why, with such heartless
Cruelty am I treated…

Lord Suetsune
1127

Right
衣衣にうつりし色はあだなれど心ぞ深き忍ぶもぢずり

kinuginu ni
utsurishi iro wa
ada naredo
kokoro zo fukaki
shinobu mojizuri
My robe’s
Hues have shifted;
Faithless is she, yet
My heart’s depths
Are stained with fern-patterned longing…

Lord Takanobu
1128

The Right state: we wonder whether ‘deepest indigo dipped many times’ (kara’ai no yashio) should not be scarlet. How dark would the colour be then? In response: there is no possibility of interpreting this as scarlet. We have used deep indigo, so what is there to criticise in then using dark? The Left state: while we understand the conception of the poem, we feel the expression is somewhat lacking. ‘My heart’s depths are stained with secret longing’ (kokoro zo fukaki shinobu mojizuri) does not link well with the initial part of the poem.

In judgement: the Left’s initial ‘deepest indigo’ (kara’ai) certainly sounds elegant, and there is no reason to make it scarlet. I also see no reason to fault the use of dark, either. As for the Right, it does not sound as if ‘stained with fern-patterned longing’ (shinobu mojizuri) links with the remainder of the poem – from the beginning to ‘my heart’s depths’ (kokoro zo fukaki). The final ‘stained with fern-patterned longing’ seems to appear abruptly. Deepest indigo should win.

Love IX: 23

Left (Win)
寝るにこそ夢も見ゆらめさ夜衣返すは浅き思なりけり

nuru ni koso
yume mo miyurame
sayogoromo
kaesu wa asaki
omoinarikeri
Is it that I sleep
That brings me dreams of her?
Night robes
Turned inside-out bring but shallow
Feelings…

Lord Kanemune
1125

Right
夢路まで憂き身の程はさ夜衣返すも猶や人知れぬ恋

yumeji made
uki mi no hodo wa
sayogoromo
kaesu mo nao ya
hito shirenu koi
Even on the path of dreams
So pitiful is my lot;
My night robe
I reverse, yet
Unknown is my love…

Jakuren
1126

The Right state: we wonder about the appropriateness of ‘Is it that I sleep’ (nuru ni koso)? The Left state: the sense of the Right’s poem is difficult to grasp.

In judgement: both Gentlemen use ‘night robe’ (sayogoromo), and while the Left’s ‘sleep’ (nuru) is ordinary enough, I do wonder a little about the suitability of the initial ‘is it that I sleep’ (nuru ni koso), but it is certainly not the case that the conception of love in the poem is weak. The Right’s ‘I reverse, yet’ (kaesu mo nao ya) is elegant, but the poem’s conception certainly lacks clarity. Having a stronger conception of love, the Left wins.

Love IX: 22

Left (Tie)
恋そめし思ひの妻の色ぞそれ見にしむ春の花の衣手

koisomeshi
omoi no tsuma no
iro zo sore
mi ni shimu haru no
hana no koromode
The first flush of love’s
Scarlet passion for her:
A hue that
Stains the flesh, as spring’s
Blossoms do the sleeves…

Lord Sada’ie
1123

Right
飽かざりしそのうつり香は唐衣恋をすすむる妻にぞ有りける

akazarishi
sono utsurika wa
karakoromo
koi o susumuru
tsuma ni zo arikeru
I cannot get enough of
Her scent transferred to
My Cathay robe:
Love for her begins
With a skirt!

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office
1124

The Right state: both the conception and diction of the Left’s poem are unclear. The Left state: the Right’s poem, in addition to being commonplace, has ‘begins’ (susumuru) which is unimpressive.

In judgement: in the Left’s poem, while ‘blossoms do the sleeves’ (hana no koromode) is evocative, ‘a hue that’ (iro zo sore) is certainly extremely difficult to understand. In the Right’s poem, both ‘Cathay robe’ (karakoromo) and ‘with a skirt’ (tsuma ni zo arikeru) seem elegant, but I wonder about the impression of ‘her scent transferred’ (sono utsurika) and ‘begins’. It is unclear which poem is superior or inferior, so the round should tie.

Love IX: 21

Left
うちとけて誰に衣を重ぬらんまろがまろ寝も夜深き物を

uchitokete
tare ni koromo o
kasanuran
maro ga marone mo
yobukaki mono o
Loosening them,
With whom does he clothes
Pile together?
Sleeping all alone
How deep this night is…

A Servant Girl
1121

Right (Win)
思わび寝る夜の床の露しげみ身のしろ衣かす人もがな

omoiwabi
neru yo no toko no
tsuyu shigemi
mi no shirogoromo
kasu hito mo gana
In the grief of love,
Sleeping at night, my bed
Is soaked through with dew;
To lend me an over-mantle
Is there no one at all…

Lord Tsune’ie
1122

The Right state: the final section of the Left’s poem is difficult to grasp. The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgement: the Left’s ‘sleeping all alone how deep this night is…’ (maro ga marone mo yobukaki mono o) does not sound as if it links with the initial section of the poem. ‘Alone’ (maro) is also unacceptable. The Right’s ‘to lend me an over-mantle’ (mi no shirogoromo) sounds elegant. I make it the winner.