Tag Archives: cogon grass

Autumn II: 10

Left (Win).


soso ya shitaba mo
tsuyu wa tamoto ni
ogi no uwakaze
When the evening comes,
Rustling underleaves
Are restless;
Dewdrops on the sleeves:
Wind o’er the silver-grass.

Lord Ari’ie.




nobe mo hitotsu ni
tsuyu michite
mushi no ne ni naru
niwa no asajū
When evening falls
The plains, too, are completely
Insects sing from
The cogon grasses in my garden.



The Right remark that ‘it is not clear what the “underleaves” (shitaba) belong to until the end of the poem’. The Left have a number of criticisms: ‘In the Right’s poem, it sounds as if the “cogon grass” (asaji) becomes “insects”. In addition, the topic of this poem is not “Garden Huts”. Furthermore, the poem lacks any expression conveying the emotional overtones of the topic – particularly with “the plains, too, are completely” (nobe mo hitotsu ni).’

Shunzei’s judgement: It is standard expression to begin a poem with ‘underleaves’, when concluding with ‘silver-grass’ as in the Left’s case. However, ‘rustling’ (sosoya) seems unnecessary in this poem. It seems a rather forced interpretation to think the cogon grass is turning into insects, seeing as this is not something that happens in nature. That this is a poem more suited to the topic of ‘Garden Huts’, though, is an unavoidable fault. So, while I cannot be satisfied with the inclusion of ‘rustling’, the final section of this poem is fine. It wins.

Autumn I: 20

Left (Win).


fukikuru aki no
yūkaze ni
kokoro midare to
uzura naku nari
Across the sedge fields
Come blowing the autumn
Evening winds;
My heart’s in disarray,
The quails are crying…

Lord Kanemune.




aki kaze o
itoi ya suran
asaji ga shita ni
uzura naku nari
The autumn wind:
Do they dislike it, I wonder?
In the dark of evening
From beneath the sparse stalks of cogon grass
The quails are crying…

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right feel that, ‘Just having “my heart’s in disarray” (kokoro midare to) is lacking something.” The Left have no particular criticisms of the Right’s poem.

Shunzei responds, ‘The gentlemen of the Right have remarked upon the lack in the Left’s poem, wondering, no doubt, if this should be “feeling my heart’s in disarray” (kokoro midare tote). If one were to say that this is definitely the way the poem should have been composed, it would be something of a loss to the Way of Poetry, I feel. If we permit poets to say they are “moved” (aware nari), why not that their “heart’s in disarray”? The Right’s poem has a superlative final section, but one cannot know whether quails dislike the autumn wind or not. In Springtime, the warblers frolic in the mists; in Autumn, the insects cry from beneath the dewdrops – but each only at their allotted time, and from this one can tell the season. The quails’ cries make one feel the chill of the autumn wind. If one composes that they hid themselves from dislike of it, it restricts the imagination about quails too much. The Left wins.’

Autumn I: 18

Left (Left).


kaze wataru
asaji ga ue no
tsuyu ni dani
yadori mo hatenu
yoi no inazuma
Brushed by the breeze,
Atop the cogon grass
The dewdrops but
Briefly rest:
Lightning at dusk.

Lord Ari’ie.




kaze fuku nobe no
tsuyu ni dani
yadori mo hatenu
inazuma no kage
Idly gazing
Across the windblown meadow;
The dewdrops but
Briefly rest:
Lightning’s light.



The Right simply say, ‘The Left’s poem is fine, is it not!’ The Left, however, grumble, ‘We cannot see how the final phrase relates to what has come before.’

Shunzei states, ‘Both poems are remarkably similar in spirit and diction, with the Left concluding “lightning at dusk” (yoi no inazuma) and the Right with “lightning’s light” (inazuma no kage) – is there really much to choose between them? The Left wins.’

Spring II: 16

Left (Win).


kataoka no
kasumi mo fukaki
kogakure ni
asahi matsu ma no
hibari nakunari
At Kataoka
The haze is deep upon
The shade of the concealing trees;
Awaiting dawn’s first light,
A skylark sings.

A Servant Girl.




nobe mireba
agaru hibari mo
ima wa tote
asaji ni otsuru
yūgure no sora
Looking out across the plain,
A soaring skylark
Seizes the second
To plunge among the cogon-grass
From the evening sky.



Neither team has any criticisms to make of the other’s poem.

Shunzei states that, ‘Left and Right deal with the skylark at morning and evening respectively. Both poems are alike in content, yet the Right’s poem conveys a particularly desolate feeling. Why should this be? Once more, the Left is the victor.’ Commentators are divided as to whether in this judgement he is suggesting that loneliness is an inappropriate emotion to convey in a skylark-themed poem, or whether, knowing that the Left’s poem was composed by Fujiwara no Yoshitsune, the host of the competition and the highest-ranking person present, he is simply flattering a powerful man’s work.

Autumn 29



takasago no
onoe no shika
koe tateshi
kaze yori kawaru
tsuki no kage kana
In Takasago
The stags
Have raised their call;
The wind bringing brighter


Right (Win).


tsuyu saete
nenu yo no tsuki ya
aranu asaji no
kesa no iro kana
So clear the dewfall
Did the moonlight this restless night
Drift upon it?
Lacking is the cogon grass
Its hue this morning…


Autumn 23

Left (Tie).


naozari no
ono no asaji ni
oku tsuyu mo
kusaba ni amaru
aki no yûgure
Brief, indeed,
Upon the sharp-leaved cogon grass in Ono,
Is the dewfall
Now mounting upon the blades
In the autumn evening.




asajiu no
ono no shinohara
ochikatabito ni
aki kaze zo fuku
The sharp-leaved cogon grass
In the arrow-bamboo of Ono,
Rustled by
A traveller to a distant land:
The autumn wind a’blowing.


Spring 10

Left (Tie).


utsurou haru o
amata hete
mi sae furinuru
asajiu no yado
Cherry blossoming and
Fading springs
So many have I spent, that
Even I have fallen into dotage,
At my dwelling, all overgrown with spiky cogon grass.




utsurinikeri na
to bakari o
nageki mo aezu
tsumoru haru kana
‘The cherry blossoms
Have already faded away,’
Simply that
Cannot contain my grief,
As one spring piles upon another.