Spring II: 15

Left (Win).


toko o hibari no
yukue mo shiranu
kumo ni irinuru
His marital
Bed, the skylark
Has left, and
Within the drifting
Clouds has vanished

Lord Ari’ie.




yakino no kusa wa
tobitatsu hibari
nedoko sadameyo
Looking out,
The stubble-burned fields’ grasses
Are all withered:
O, skylark, flying forth,
Find your bed, somewhere!

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right state that they would have preferred it if the Left’s poem had been phrased ‘the skylark’s bed’ (hibari no toko), rather than ‘bed, the skylark’ (toko o hibari no), which essentially is an argument in favour of avoiding the non-standard grammatical pattern of Direct Object-Subject. The Left’s criticism of the Right is on the grounds of content, saying, ‘Is it not the case that in a “stubble-burned field” (yakino) there would be nothing to “wither”? If something is burned, there is nothing left.’

Shunzei states that he finds it ‘difficult to agree’ with the Right’s criticism of the Left’s poem, and then goes on to state that ‘the stubble-burned fields’ grasses are all withered’ must mean either that they were burned after withering; or, that they withered after sprouting afresh following a burn. Though he does not say so explicitly, neither would be appropriate in a Spring poem, so ‘the Left must win.’

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