Tag Archives: dropwort

Love I: 22



imo ga shima
ara’iso ni yoru
uki miru no
uki o mo miru wa
minu ni masareri
At Imogashima’s
Rocky shore
Floats seaweed;
The sorrow on seeing her
Is better that the sorrow of not…





sawa no nezeri o
tsumite dani
kokoro no ato o
ikade nokosamu
I cannot feel more:
Dropwort from the marshes
Plucked – exhausted,
A trace of this love within my heart:
How might I recall it?



Neither Left nor Right finds any fault this round.

Shunzei’s judgement: The final section of the Left’s poem a kind of charming form [hitotsu no sugata nite okashiku haberu], but ‘rocky shore’ (ara’iso) sounds frightful [osoroshiku kikoehabere]. The Right’s ‘plucking dropwort’ (seri tsumu) is archaic, but not objectionable [furugoto nareba nadarakani wa haberubeki], but saying ‘a trace within my heart’ (kokoro no ato o) gives an extremely relaxed and vague feeling [itaku kasumeru kokochishite], and so it is difficult to say that either poem is better.

Spring I: 19

Left (Tie).


nawa tatsu koma o
ika ni shite
nobe no hatsugusa
Seeming driven wild and
Tether snapping is my steed:
How might
He be tied,
By the fresh grasses on the plain?



Right (Tie).


kesa mireba
sawa no wakazeri
shitane toke
midori ni hayuru
yuki no mura kie
Looking this morning on
The fresh dropwort by the marsh,
Melting round the roots –
So greenly growing –
Snow spots were vanishing.

Lord Takanobu


The Right team comment here that the Left’s poem is in the same spirit as Shun’e’s poem in the Shikashū (SKS I: 12). Into this has been inserted the additional idea of ‘tether snapping’ (nawa tatsu), and this is ‘grating on the ear’.

The Left team, in turn, say that the Right’s poem contains both ‘melting’ (toke) and ‘vanishing’ (kie) and this is an error. (Japanese poetics held that a poem should not contain two words with identical meanings.) It is also ‘undesirable’ to use ‘growing’ (hayuru).

Shunzei comments that the Right team have correctly identified the resemblance of the Left’s poem to that by the Monk Shun’e, and in such poems, it is commonplace not to avoid this. However, as in Taira no Sadafun’s poem in the Shūishū (SIS XVIII: 1185). ‘Tether snapping’ (nawa tatsu) is used of approaching a woman. (Nawa tatsu 縄絶つ ‘tether snapping’ is homophonous with na wa tatsu 名は立つ ‘one’s name would arise (in conversation)’ – in other words, ‘be gossiped about’.) Here, though, it is simply used about breaking a rope, or cord, and ‘is this not mundane?’ The Right’s poem starts ‘very well’, but to use ‘growing’ (hayuru) is ‘not good at all’. Both poems are ‘commonplace’ and so neither deserves a win.