Category Archives: Poetry Competition in Six Hundred Rounds

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.

Love IX: 20

Left (Win)
夢絶えて返すかひなきさ夜衣うらみばかりを重ねつるかな

yume taete
kaesu kainaki
sayogoromo
urami bakari o
kasaneteuru kana
My dreams have ceased, and
Pointless, it is to reverse
My night robe –
Resentment is all the
Lies upon me…

Lord Ari’ie
1119

Right
寝る人の夢は幾度覚めぬらん返すかひなきさ夜衣かな

neru hito no
yume wa ikutabi
samenuran
kaesu kainaki
sayogoromo kana
That sleeper has from
Dreams, how many times
Awakened?
Pointlessly reversed is
My night robe!

Nobusada
1120

Both Gentlemen state there are no faults to mention.

In judgement: both Left and Right use a ‘pointlessly reversed night robe’ (kaesu kainaki sayogoromo), but I wonder about the impression of the Right’s ‘sleeper’ (neru hito no). The Left, from the initial ‘my dreams have ceased’ (yume taete) to the concluding section sounds fine. Thus, I must make the Left the winner.

Love IX: 19

Left
戀衣いつか干るべき河社しるしも浪にいとゞしほれて

koigoromo
itsuka hirubeki
kawa yashiro
shirushi mo nami ni
itodo shiorete
My clothes of love,
When might they dry?
A river shrine
Has had no effect – the waves
Dampen them all the more…

Kenshō
1117

Right (Win)
いかで猶夜半の衣を返しても重ねしほどの夢をだに見ん

ikade nao
yowa no koromo o
kaeshitemo
kasaneshi hodo no
yume o dani min
What to do? Again
My night time garb
Inside out I turn –
As many layers
As dreams, if only I would see…

Takanobu
1118

The Right state: there are a number of different theories about the source poem ‘stems of bamboo wave freely the clothes I’d dry’ (shino ni orihae hosu koromo), so how should the allusion here be correctly understood? In response: this refers to a summer performance of sacred music and dance. In this, sprigs of sakaki are placed in clear water, and bamboo stems are hung from the shelf as offerings. This is the river shrine (kawa yashiro). It appears in the records about sacred music in summer. Standard sacred music is performed to pray to the gods. Thus, if one is made to bear the weight of something one has not done, the feeling is close to the conception of damp clothes, is it not? And this is associated with the clothes of lovers that will not dry. The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgement:  the Left’s poem seems to be more about a ‘river shrine’ than ‘lovers’ clothing’ (koigoromo). While it is not entirely clear, the Left and Right’s criticism and response, are certainly unusual. There are two poems which are possible as sources for this, both of which appear in Tsurayuki’s Collection. These are: ‘At a river shrine / Stems of bamboo wave freely / The clothes I’d dry / How should I do so? / Seven days still damp…’  and:

行く水のうへにいはへる河社河浪高くあそぶなるかな

yuku mizu no
ue ni iwaeru
kawa yashiro
kawa nami takaku
asobunaru kana
The waters run, and
Above them in celebration is
A river shrine;
The river’s waves rise high,
Taking pleasure in their play!

This latter is a poem from a folding screen with pictures of each of the moons of the year, painted in the Tenryaku Era. Moreover, in a work by Lord Toshiyori, he says, ‘There is no one today who knows what a “river shrine” is. All we can do now is guess. So people say that it was a shrine on top of the water, where sacred music was performed in summer. The latter poem certainly does not seem to have this meaning. The former makes no mention of sacred music, and simply talks of clothing one has wanted to dry for a long time not drying.’ In addition, I have questioned a member of a household familiar with sacred music about this matter, and been told, ‘Where summer sacred music is concerned, there is a particular way of it. It is definitely absent from the records.’ Furthermore, Toshiyori played the double-reed flute. He would clearly have known all about sacred music, and around this time wrote, ‘first of all, there is no one who knows of this,’ and yet the Left’s response simply states, ‘it appears in the records about sacred music.’ This is something which requires greater proof. If the gentleman of the Left is able to provide some now, this would be a fine thing for the Way of Music! These, in brief, are my thoughts on this matter and, of course, the Left’s response.

First, it is a mistake to say that the river shrine is necessarily connected with summer sacred music. Summer sacred music is just what it sounds like: in summer, sacred music is performed, but not in any fixed way. However, here summer sacred music is done before a river shrine. Kawa yashiro shino ni is an old term for widely or ordinarily. It appears to have been used this way in the Collection of a Myriad Leaves. Orihaete has the same meaning. In the phrase ‘drying a robe / seven days undrying’ (hosu koromo / nanoka hizu) seven, or eight, days is simply a poetic convention for conveying that something was not dry after a long time. The ‘robe’ is not really a piece of clothing, but something which resembles it, and which is not dry. Ise said of the so-called Ryūmon Waterfall, ‘So why should the mountain’s princess rinse her cloth’ (nani yama hime no nuno sarasuramu) and also there are expressions such as ‘Nunohiki Falls’. Thus we have the Left’s argument for the summer sacred music platform, and then Lord Toshiyori’s writings; further, on the term shino ‘bamboo hung from the shelf as an offering to the gods’ and ‘clothing has the conception of damp clothing’. This is a remarkable way of interpreting the poem, indeed! The only way to settle the matter would be with the presentation of definite proof. So, this is certainly something which His Grace should request for review. In short, the Left’s poem, beginning with the idea that lovers’ clothing is to pray at a river shrine, and then saying ‘it has no effect’ (shirushi mo nami ni) seems like everlasting bitterness. The Right’s poem says ‘my night time garb inside out I turn’ (yowa no koromo o kaeshitemo), which is quite ordinary. In the absence of definite proof for the Left’s contentions, the Right must win.