Tag Archives: haru

Spring I: 16

Left (Tie).


haru kaze ni
ike no kôri ya
matarenu nami no
hana o miru kana
In the breath of spring
Will the ice upon the pond
Unanticipated blossom touched
Waves come into view…

Lord Kanemune.


Right (Tie).


uguisu no
namida no tsurara
koe nagara
tayori ni sasoe
haru no yama mizu
The bush warbler’s
Tears of ice,
And song,
Issue an invitation!
To the mountain waters this springtime…



The Right team have no comments to make about the Left’s poem this round, but the Left wonder whether the essence of the poem, of the warbler’s ‘tears of ice’ and song inviting the waters, might not be a bit much?

Shunzei remarks that the form and phrasing of the Left’s poem is ‘certainly charming’, and echoes their criticism of the Right’s poem, as having an ‘impossible essence’. He then goes on to say, ‘The Left is placidly charming; the Right’s essence must be excessive. They are equivalent and I judge this round a tie.’

Spring I: 13

Left (Win).


migiwa o wataru
harukaze ni
ike no kokoro mo
toke ya shinuran
The ice-bound
Waters’ edge a’crossing goes
The breath of spring;
Has the mere’s heart, too,





yuki tsumoru
mine ni haruhi ya
tani no ogawa no
mizu masariyuku
Upon the snow-laden
Peaks has the spring sun
For the valley streamlets are
With water overflowing…

Lord Tsune’ie


Neither team had anything deep to say about the other’s poem this round.

Shunzei states that, while both are of the same quality, the phrase ‘spring sun’ (haruhi) was not one that he liked to see used (why remains unclear, although there is speculation that it was because it was an ancient term dating from the Man’yōshū), and so the Left’s poem was just the winner.

Spring I: 12

Left (Win).


sora wa nao
kasumi mo yarazu
kaze saete
yukige ni kumoru
haru no yo no tsuki
The skies are still
Untouched by haze;
The wind clearly brings
A sense of snow to cloud
The moon, this springtime night.

A Servant Girl




ume ga e no
nioi bakari ya
haru naran
nao yuki fukashi
mado no akebono
Is a branch of plum’s
Scent alone
Still the snows lie deep
Outside my window this dawn.



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

Shunzei comments that both poems are simply and beautifully constructed in both form and phrasing, and the final two lines of both poems are equally charming. He feels, though, that the beginning of the Right’s poem would have been improved if, instead of ‘a branch of plum’ (ume ga e), which focuses the audience’s attention on the branch, and not the blossom, it had begun ‘Is the plum beneath my eaves’ (noki no ume), instead. In addition, while reluctant to discount ‘outside my window this dawn’ (mado no akebono), he cannot help but feel that ‘the moon, this springtime night’ (haru no yo no tsuki) is a more superlative conclusion, and so has to award victory to the Left.

Spring I: 11

Left (Tie).


ama no hara
haru tomo mienu
nagame kana
kozo no nagori no
yuki no akebono
Upon the plain of Heaven
Of Spring there is no sign
In sight:
A memento of the year that’s gone,
Snowfall with the dawning.

Lord Ari’ie


Right (Tie).


nagori ni wa
haru no tamoto mo
kasumi yori chiru
yuki no keshiki ni
The memento
Also upon my springtime sleeves
Stands clear:
Drifting from the haze,
A scene of snow.



In this round the Right team have no criticisms to make of the Left’s poem, but the Left query beginning a poem with ‘memento’, as the audience then immediately wonder, ‘A memento of what?’

Shunzei comments that the Left’s poem starts extremely well, but that, even though ‘in sight’ (nagame kana) has been frequently used in poetry recently, its spirit has yet to be fully determined, and so including it here must be considered a mistake. Furthermore, the concluding line, ‘snowfall with the dawning’ (yuki no akebono), has also been much used in recent poetry. As for the Right’s poem, he feels it ends extremely well, but echoes the criticism of the Left about the beginning. Thus, the best result for this round is a tie.

Spring I: 10

Left (Win).


kasumi aezu
nao furu yuki ni
sora tojite
haru monofukaki
uzumibi no moto
No trace of haze and
Still the falling snow
Seals the sky;
Spring lies deep
Amongst the buried embers.

Lord Sada’ie




kasumi shiku
kesa sae sayuru
tamoto kana
yuki furu toshi ya
mi ni tsumoruran
Haze spreads:
Today, ‘tis clear
Upon my sleeve:
Is it with snow fall this year
That I am buried?

Lord Takanobu


The Right team state that the final line of the Left’s poem is ‘grating on the ear’, but that otherwise they can find nothing wrong with it. Shunzei remarks somewhat testily, that they are pre-empting his role as judge, but broadly agrees, finding the central image of snow ‘sealing the sky’ particularly fine. He finds the Right’s poem problematic in that ‘haze spreads’ in the middle of spring, and this poem is supposed to be describing the season’s beginning – it should be ‘haze rises’ (kasumi tatsu), and there is nothing remarkable about the rest of it. Thus, he awards the round to the Left.

Spring I: 8

Left (Tie).


haru kitemo
nao shimikōru
yamazato wa
kakehi no mizu no
otozure mo nashi
Though spring has come,
Yet chill seeps within
My mountain home:
Water from the pipes
Makes no sound at all…

Lord Kanemune


Right (Tie).


haru kitemo
yuki furu sora o
kasumi mo sayuru
kokochi koso sure
Though spring has come
When on the sky, full of falling snow,
I gaze,
Even the haze of spring is clearly cold
I feel.



The Right team here disapprove of the Left’s use of shimikōru, calling it, ‘grating on the ear’ – Shunzei disagrees, saying that neither component, shimi or kōru, is ‘vulgar’. Both poems, he feels, start well, and the fourth line of the Right poem, kasumi mo sayuru, is particularly fine, but, once again, the round must be adjudged a tie.

Spring I: 6

Left (Win).


sode kawasu
mihashi no kiwa ni
toshi furite
ikutabi haru o
yoso ni mukaetsu
Sleeve brushes sleeve
On the palace walkways’ edge
Year on top of year;
How many springtimes
Have I but distantly seen it in?

Lord Kanemune




itsushika to
mihashi no kiwa ni
sechi ni au
ōmiyabito ya
haru o shiruran
Soon, indeed,
On the palace walkways’ edge
The season-greeting banquet will come
Upon the palace-folk; is that how
They know it’s spring?

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office


Shunzei awards victory to Kanemune’s poem for its fine use of ‘palace walkways’ (mihashi) and ‘how many springtimes’ (ikutabi haru), while finding the Right team’s poem ‘splendidly constructed, but insufficiently clear’, as it doesn’t explicitly mention ‘sechie’ – a particular palace New Year banquet – although it does contain all the relevant characters.

Spring I: 4



haru kureba
hoshi no kurai ni
kage miete
kumoi no hashi ni
izuru taoyame
When spring is come
A sprinkling of star
Light seems
Upon the walkways of the cloud-borne palace
To emerge: gentle maidens.



Right (Win).


itsushika to
sode o tsuranuru
momoshiki ni
yorozuyo meguru
haru no sakazuki
How swiftly,
Sleeves overlapping at the
Hundredfold palace;
For ten thousand generations will we pass round
The wine cups in springtime.

Lord Takanobu


The Right state that the ‘form of the Left’s poem does not match the emotional tone’. The Left have no criticisms of the Right’s poem.

Shunzei’s judgement: ‘A mismatch of form and emotion in the Left’s poem has been suggested by the gentlemen of the Right. I am not certain whether I agree with this suggestion or not [yuki, yukazu no jō wa, mata ekokoroehaberanedo], but the final line of the second poem sounds splendid [yoroshiku kikoehaberi] and hence it must win.