Category Archives: Poetry Competition in Six Hundred Rounds

Spring I: 4



haru kureba
hoshi no kurai ni
kage miete
kumoi no hashi ni
izuru taoyame
When spring is come
A sprinkling of star
Light seems
Upon the walkways of the cloud-borne palace
To emerge: gentle maidens.



Right (Win).


itsushika to
sode o tsuranuru
momoshiki ni
yorozuyo meguru
haru no sakazuki
How swiftly,
Sleeves overlapping at the
Hundredfold palace;
For ten thousand generations will we pass round
The wine cups in springtime.

Lord Takanobu


The Right state that the ‘form of the Left’s poem does not match the emotional tone’. The Left have no criticisms of the Right’s poem.

Shunzei’s judgement: ‘A mismatch of form and emotion in the Left’s poem has been suggested by the gentlemen of the Right. I am not certain whether I agree with this suggestion or not [yuki, yukazu no jō wa, mata ekokoroehaberanedo], but the final line of the second poem sounds splendid [yoroshiku kikoehaberi] and hence it must win.

Spring I: 3

Left (Win).


hatsu haru no
kyō wa kashikoki
nobeyo to chiyo no
shirushi zo oku
At the start of spring
Today, the awesome
Imperial Word
Announce! For a thousand generations
The signs are placed.

Lord Ari’ie



morobito no
tachi’iru niwa no
sakazuki ni
hikari mo shirushi
chiyo no hatsuharu
Where the courtier crowds
Sit and stand within the gardens,
Upon the wine cups
Light is e’en a sign, of
A thousand generations, at the start of spring.


Neither team finds any fault in the other’s poem this round.

Shunzei’s judgement: The conception [kokoro] of the Left’s ‘Announce! For a thousand generations the signs are placed’ (nobeyo to chiyo no shirushi zo oku) is fine [yoroshiku haberubeshi]. The configuration of the Right’s poem, too, is splendid [sugata wa yū ni haberu], but ‘wine cups’ (sakazuki) seems rather abrupt. ‘Light’ (hikari) could beimagined as coming from the moon, but its origin is not entirely clear. Thus, as a result, the Left must win.

Spring I: 2



toshi no hajime wa
toyo miki ni
kasanete tamau
hirohata no kinu
Newly arrived is
The year, and at its head,
A goodly draught of wine,
Once more, bestowed with
A broad bolt of silken cloth!

Lord Suetsune

Right (Win).


taenu himuro ni
suberaki no
chiyo ni tameshi o
kyō zo tatekeru
In Matsugasaki,
Unenduring ice-houses: within,
Of His Majesty’s
Thousand ages, a sign
Stands there this day.

Lord Tsune’ie

The Right state that there is not doubting the conception of the Left’s poem as a Festival poem [sechie no kokoro wa utagainashi]. The final section, though, does not fit this [kokoro yukazu]. The Left state that the first five syllables of the Right’s poem are grating to hear [mimi ni tachite kikoyu].

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s poem is truly completely in keeping with the conception of the topic [dai no kokoro wa makoto ni kagirinaku], but ‘A broad bolt of silken cloth!’ (hirohata no kinu) really does seem unsuited. The Right’s poem concerns the Ice Testing on New Year’s Day, and so does have the conception of a festival poem, but [en no kokoro mo habaramedo] on the face of it the poem feels more like one on the topic of Ice-Houses. However, it is still the case that hirohata sounds poor [yoshikarazu kikoe]. I will make ‘Ice Houses’ the winner.

Spring I: 1

Left (Tie).


aratama no
toshi o kumoi ni
mukau tote
kyô morobito ni
miki tamau nari
To the fresh-jewelled
Year does the cloud-borne Palace
This day, on many folk
Will the esteemed draught be bestowed!

A Servant Girl

Right (Tie).


momoshiki ya
haru o mukauru
sakazuki ni
kimi ga chitose no
kage zo utsureru
Hundred-fold, the Palace, to
Spring does turn!
Within the wine cups,
His Majesty’s one thousand years
Does show its form!


The Right find no faults in the Left’s poem this round. The Left state that the conception [kokoro] of the Right’s poem is incorrect for the topic of Festivals on New Year’s Day. It suggests, rather, the Migusuri rites.

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s poem starts with ‘To the fresh-jewelled’ (aratama no) which is approprate for the first poem in the first round, but concludes with ‘Will the esteemed draught be bestowed!’ (miki tamau nari), which is extremely pedestrian diction [muge ni tada kotoba ni haberan]. The Left have stated that the Right’s poem lacks the conception of the festivals [en no kokoro naki]. That may be the case, but still I wonder if it is lacking as a festival poem? It does refer to celebration. The round should tie.