hito shirenu sode zo tsuyukeki au koto wa kare nomi masaru yama no shitagusa Unknown to all My sleeves are drenched with dew; For our meetings Excel only in being withered As the scrub grass on the mountainside.
[Nakako,] The Suō Handmaid
oku yama no shitakagegusa wa kare ya suru nokiba ni nomi wa onore naritsutsu Deep within the mountains, have The grasses growing in the trees’ dark shade Really withered away? Simply beneath your eaves, Is where I ever am…
The Consultant Middle Captain
Image by joyfultta from Pixabay
Round Nine: Quiet thoughts at Tanabata
yae mugura shigeru nokiba o kakiwakete hoshiai no sora o nagametsuru kana Eightfold thickets Grow lushly beneath my eaves; Pulling them apart upon The sky of trysting stars Will I turn my gaze!
Taira no Sadatsugu
tanabata no au yo no hodo wa omoiyaru kokoro sae koso sora ni sumikere Tanabata is A night for meeting—throughout it I am filled with longing: Even my very heart Does dwell among the skies.
Fujiwara no Kaneyuki
 Taira no Sadatsugu 平貞継. The identity of this individual is unclear. This poem is his sole appearance in a poetry contest.
kokoroboso itsu made wa ga mi nagaraen nokiba ni sugaku sasagani no ito In loneliness How long must I Go on? By my eaves spun into a web is The spider’s thread…
kare nokoru noki no ayame o tayori nite kurikaeshi hiku kumo no itosuji On the withered remnants of Sweet-flags on my eaves Shall I rely, and Time and time again draw upon The spider’s thread.
When Spring Arrives in the Old Year 旧年立春
azumaya no nokiba no taruhi usuraku wa yuki kakiwakete haru ya tatsuran On an eastern hut’s Eaves, the icicles Seem more slender now; Forging through the snows Has spring come to call?
uchineru yoi mo
fuki dani susame
niwa no matsukaze Unable to bear the pains of love, and
Dozing through the night –
That happens sometimes;
O, just blow gently,
Breeze through the garden pines!
A Servant Girl
nokiba no oka no
matsu mo urameshi Unable to bear the pains of love,
When I gaze out, once more
The evening sun shines
Past my eaves, where on the hillside
Even the pines seem resentful…
Same as the previous round.
In judgement: here we have ‘O, just blow gently’ (
fuki dani susame), and the Right has ‘Past my eaves, where on the hillside’ ( nokiba no oka no): these recollect the poems ‘in the depths of sleep I tread to you’ ( uchinuru naka ni yukikayou) and ‘the beams strike the hillside through the pine needles’ ( sasu ya okabe no matsu no ha); both sound elegant. I make this round a tie.
wa ga mi furuya no
tane o make to wa I did not tell you:
My aged home’s
To think so lightly of
That you scatter seeds about!
kokoro no ne yori
noki no shinobu wa
My heart’s depths
Have grown old, as
Beneath my eaves the ferns
Have grown thick, indeed.
The Gentlemen of the Right state: we wonder about the appropriateness of sowing seeds beneath eaves? The Left, in appeal: why not compose a poem in this manner, given ‘even the grass seeds, forgotten’? The Left state: this seems little different from Toshiyori’s poem, ‘Beneath the eaves, my thoughts run wild / As the growing plants…’ (
omoinoki yori ouru narikeri).
In judgement: both poems refer to ferns, and the conception of ‘my aged home’ (
wa ga mi furuya no) and ‘my heart’s depths’ ( kokoro no ne yori) both sound suitable. I make this a tie.
hito ni nokiba no
namida no ame zo
tsuyukekarikeru Forgotten by
Him, beneath my eaves
The ferns bring back memories;
A rain of tears
Leaves them dew-drenched.
yagate nokiba ni
itodo shinobu no
kusa zo shigereru My man is
Far away; beneath my eaves
Are the signs:
How many memories and
Ferns grow thickly…
Both Left and Right state: we find no faults to mention.
In judgement: both poems refer to ‘memory ferns’ (
shinobugusa), and there is not a great deal of difference in quality between them, but the Left’s ‘rain of tears’ ( namida no ame), with its association of dew, is slightly better than the Right’s ‘ferns grow thickly’ ( kusa zo shigereru), and so should win.
There was a man who had been secretly conversing with a woman who had a husband. When their relationship cooled, seeing that he had little time for her, the woman sent this to him.
wa ga yado no
noki no sinobu ni
yagate mo sigeru
wasuregusa kana At my dwelling
Ferns grow beneath the eaves
Is your excuse;
And in the end all that grows lush is
The grass of your forgetfulness!
On seeing attractive-looking ivy on a crude house.
yoshi aru shizu no
tsuta no momiji o
noki ni hawasete Unexpectedly
Pleasant is this peasant’s
With scarlet ivy
Trailing across its eaves…