A poem from the Poetry Contest held by the Empress Dowager during the reign of the Kanpyō emperor.
akikaze ni Fokorobinurasi Fudibakama tudurisasete teFu kirigirisu naku
With the autumn breeze Seem to have bloomed and twined The asters Bound together by the rasping Crickets’ cries.
Ariwara no Muneyana
 This poem is composed around a dual wordplay, which I have not been able to closely replicate in the translation. Hokorobu is simultaneously both ‘bloom fully’ and ‘thread (a needle)’ while tsuzuru is both ‘sew together’ and an onomatopoeic representation of the sound that a cricket makes.
The Gentlemen of the Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to mention. The Gentlemen of the Left state: the intial part of the Right’s poem is derived from an old poem, and so does the end!
In judgement: I wonder whether the cogon-grass (asajū), mentioned initially, is as clearly conceived as the ‘lawn’ (michishiba) mentioned at the end? The Right’s poem refers to ‘So full are my thoughts, what am I to do? With the autumn wind’, but reverses the beginning and end of that poem; it is extremely old-fashioned in style, but pleasant as it is plainly intended to be understood as a variant of its model. Thus, the Right wins over the combination of ‘cogon-grass’ and ‘lawn’.
The Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to indicate. The Left state: in the Later Collection of Gleanings there is a poem about Ibuki, which uses ‘burst into flame’ (moyu). We wonder about the suitability of using ‘burst into flame’ without also using Ibuki. The Right, in response: older poems used ‘burst entirely into flame’ (sashimoyu), and this composition is the same.
In judgement: I am not accustomed to hearing ‘the depths of my heart are silver grass’ (kokoro no soko no kaya) as in the Left’s poem. The image in the Right’s poem of moxa not completely covered with dew bursting into flame seems rather overblown. The strengths and weaknesses of the two poems are unclear, so the round should tie.
kesa mireba hagi ominaeshi nabikashite yasashi no nobe no kaze no keshiki ya
This morn when I look out Are the bush clovers and maidenflowers Waving Gently in the fields A vision of wind?
Lord Toshiyori 15
takamado no noji no shinohara sue sawagi sosoya akikaze kyō fukinu nari
At Shinohara in Noji,
Noisy in the treetops
Rustles the autumn wind
As it blows today.
Lord Mototoshi 16
In the Left’s poem, from the phrase ‘bush clovers and maidenflowers’ (hagi ominaeshi) and to the following ‘gently in the fields’ (yashi no nobe) seem singularly unremarkable. In fact, the diction seems so out of place as to be comic. The Right’s poem has an elevated style and charming diction, so one would think it should win, should it not?
The Gentlemen of the Left: the Right’s poem does use the comically forceful diction ‘rustles’ (sosoya).
In judgement: the Left’s ‘waving’ (nabikashite) is an expression giving the poem an extremely idiosyncratic style. The initial section also appears to be lacking in force. As for the Right’s poem, ‘rustles’ (sosoya) is used by Sone no Yoshitada in his poem ‘rustling, the autumn wind has blown’ (sosoya akikaze fukinu nari), so it is not as if there is not a prior example of usage. Thus, it seems to me that the Right’s poem is superior.
The judge, Fujiwara no Mototoshi, is mistaken here, as the poem he is remembering is by Ōe no Yoshitoki 大江嘉言 and can be found in Shikashū (III: 108). Yoshitada is the author of SKS III: 110, however, so it seems he has simply made a mistaken identification of authorship over two poems which are more or less adjacent to each other in that anthology.