Tag Archives: catalpa bows

Spring II: 3

Left (Win)


narenuru hito no
kokoro o ba
nobe no kasumi mo
hedate ya wa sen
To a gathering
Of friendly folk
With hearts all in accord,
The haze across the fields
Will be no hindrance, at all.

Lord Ari’ie.




haru no higurashi
irusa no hara ni
matoi o zo suru
A catalpa bow:
Spring, all day long,
Drawn out
Upon Irusa Plain
Let’s music make!

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right have nothing special to say about the Left’s poem, but the Left grumble that the Right’s seems to be more on the theme of bows, than ‘field pleasures’, and add that they ‘fail to understand’ the reason why Irusa Plain has been singled out, among all the plains in Japan.

Shunzei, however, says that this criticism is ‘completely unjustified’ and that the Right’s poem is ‘strictly in accord’ with the theme of ‘field pleasures’. He goes on to praise the use of association in the poem, with azusa yumi, ‘catalpa bow’, associating with haru (‘spring’, but also ‘draw (a bow)’), hiki (‘pull’), iru (‘shoot (a bow)’) and mato (‘target’). Moving on to the Left’s poem, he says that the final stanzas seem ‘particularly good’, and that it would ‘do a disservice’ to the composition of poetry if he awarded a victory based on association alone, so the Left’s poem must be the winner.

Spring I: 28

Left (Win).


momoshiki ni
azusa yumi
haru mo tomone no
mezurashiki kana
By the hundredfold palace
Catalpa bows:
Sprung in springtime, bowstring on bracer:
How rare the sound!

Lord Suetsune




toneriko ga
tomo uchinarasu
azusa yumi
ite hikiwataru
haru wa kinikeri
The guardsmen lads’
Bracers sound;
Catalpa bows,
Drawn by archers:
Springtime is here, indeed!

Lord Takanobu


Again, the Right team have no comments to make about the Left’s poem this round, but the Left say the initial line of the Right’s poem is ‘unsatisfactory’. Shunzei, once again, agrees, remarking that, ‘the initial line sounds like the name of the tree used when referring to adding water to an ink-stone. Again, the Left is the winner.’ What he means by this is that toneriko, ‘guardsmen lads’ was homophonous with the word for ‘ash tree’. The old Japanese extracted a wax from ash trees, which was used to ease the running of sliding doors and shutters, and so by association, toneriko was used in poetry to refer to adding water to an ink-stone so that the ink, produced in solid sticks, would slide over it more easily. This image is inappropriate for a poem about the New Year Archery festival, and so the poem is of inferior quality, compared to the Left’s offering.

Spring I: 27

Left (Win).


azusa yumi
haru no kumoi ni
hibiku made
tomone ni kayou
mato no oto kana
Catalpa bows
In springtime round the cloud-borne palace
Bowstring on bracer and
Arrow on target – what a sound!

Lord Kanemune




azusa yumi
môke no ya ni ya
hate made kyô wa
atarinuru kana
Catalpa bows’
Spare arrows: will they
Be drawn, I wonder?
By this day’s end
All will have struck the target…

Lord Tsune’ie


The Right team have no comments to make about the Left’s poem, but the Left state that the initial section of the Right’s poem is ‘prosaic [heikai]’. Shunzei agrees, saying that the term ‘spare arrows’ is ‘unsuitable diction for poetry’ [uta kotoba ni yoroshikarazaru] and so the Left’s poem must be adjudged the winner.