Tag Archives: haze

Autumn III: 17



haru aki ni
tomeru yado ni wa
shiragiku o
kasumi no iro ni
ukabete zo miru
Long life’s
Blessings to this house:
White chrysanthemums
In pale blue haze
Adrift, I see…

Lord Suetsune.




kimi o omou
iwai ni kiku o
aki mo kagiranu
hana to koso mire
Wishing for my Lord’s
Long life, chrysanthemums
I have first plucked;
Not of autumn alone
Do these flowers seem!



The Right have no criticisms to make of the Left’s poem. The Left say that they do not feel the Right’s poem quite expresses all that it attempts to do.

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s ‘Long life’s blessings to this house’ (haru aki ni tomeru yado ni wa) must be a reference to the Hall of Longevity. What does ‘in pale blue haze adrift’ (kasumi no iro ni ukabu) mean, though? Even though sake is referred to as ‘flowing haze’, to simply say ‘in pale blue haze’ suggests that one is really referring to haze, itself. Left and Right have strengths and weaknesses and there is no clear difference between them.

Spring III: 21

Left (Win).


kasumi no sue no
araoda ni
kawazu mo haru no
kure uramunari
Through the haze upon
The unplanted paddy fields
The frogs, too, spring’s
Passing mourn.

Lord Sada’ie.




ide no kawazu wa
nami no ue ni zo
koe wa kikoyuru
Hidden in the waters,
The frogs of Ide
Swarm, yet
Across the waves
Come their cries.

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right wonder about the appropriateness of ‘through the haze upon’ (kasumi no sue), while the Left content themselves with saying the Right’s poem is ‘trite.’

Shunzei states that, ‘“Through the haze upon the unplanted paddy fields” (kasumi no sue no araoda) is a particularly desolate image, but I do wonder if it’s appropriate here. “Hidden in the waters, the frogs of Ide swarm” (migakurete ide no kawazu) certainly sounds as if it were based on a prior example, but I find myself unable to recall it at present. Having both “across the waves” (nami no ue) and “the frogs of Ide” (ide no kawazu), however, is excessive. The left seems the winner.’

Spring III: 12

Left (Tie).


ochikata ya
mada minu mine wa
kasumi nite
nao hana omou
shiga no yamagoe
In the distance far
As yet unseen peaks
Are shrouded in the haze;
Yet I think on blossom on
The path across the Shiga Mountains.

A Servant Girl.


Right (Tie).


haru fukami
hana no sakari ni
kumo o wakeiru
shiga no yamagoe
Spring is at its height, and
The blossoms their peak
Have reached, so
I pass between the clouds
On the path across the Shiga Mountains.

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right say that ‘shrouded in the haze’ (kasumi nite) in the Left’s poem is ‘somewhat grating on the ear’ [isasaka mimi ni tatsu], while the Left reply that the Right’s is ‘rather old-fashioned’ [furumekashiki] and ‘there would be people complaining it was similar to their own work!’

In response, Shunzei says, ‘The Left’s ‘shrouded in haze’ certainly is somewhat grating in form [mimi ni tatsubeku ya], but seeing blossom scattered on a mountain path and wondering about the situation on peaks ahead hidden in the haze, seems well in keeping with the conception of the topic [amari no kokoro ni ya haberan]. As for the Right, on first impression it is splendid [yū], and as for it seeming old-fashioned, and people complaining about it: well, I wonder if there ever was anyone who composed in such a manner [kayō no kokoro ni koso yomeru hai ni ya]? At the present time I have no recollection of anyone. Thus, I cannot decide on a winner between the two.’

Spring II: 28



kasumi ka wa
hana uguisu ni
haru ni komoreru
yado no akebono
Is this haze?
No, in blossom and warbler song
Am I sealed;
Shut in by springtime
Is my home this dawn.

Lord Sada’ie


Right (Win).


kasumi tatsu
sue no matsuyama
honobono to
nami ni hanaruru
yokogumo no sora
The hazes rise
Around the pine-clad peak of Sué;
Departing from the waves,
Narrow clouds trail across the sky.



The Right team have no particular remarks to make about the Left’s poem this round, but the Left state that the Right’s poem is ‘most satisfying.’

Shunzei’s judgement is: ‘The Left’s “Is this haze?” (kasumi ka wa) seems like it wants to be “Is this just haze?” (kasumi nomi ka wa). “In blossom and warbler song am I sealed” (hana uguisu ni tojirarete) and “my home this dawn” (yado no akebono) remind one of “the lofty palace of Shinsei stands behind warblers and blossom” and this is excellent. As for the Right’s poem, this is particularly moving, with its depiction of the scene “departing from the waves, narrow clouds trail across the sky” (nami ni hanaruru yokogumo no sora), recalling “the pine-clad peak of Sué” (sue no matsuyama). The poem does start with “hazes rise” (kasumi tatsu) and having “haze” (kasumi), “wave” (nami) and “cloud” (kumo) means the poem is somewhat overburdened with similar imagery. “Narrow clouds trail across the sky”, though, does make a particularly strong impression, and the Left’s poem is merely satisfying, as has been said. Thus, “my home this dawn” must lose, I think.’

Spring II: 25

Left (Tie).


kasumi bakari wa
soko tomo miezu
akegure no sora
The drifting,
Misty haze
Blurs all;
Nowhere can I see
The softly lightening sky.

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Tie).


kasumi mo ya
akeyuku sora o
tachiwataru kana
Does the haze, too,
The lightening sky
In sad solitude
Does it cover all.

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right team state that, ‘the expression ‘softly lightening’ (akegure) gives the impression that the scene is rather earlier than dawn,’ to which the Left snap back that ‘sad solitude’ (kokorobosogeni) is ‘puerile.’

Shunzei’s judgement is, ‘The comments by both teams are apt. The poems seem of equivalent quality.’

Spring II: 17

Left (Tie).


harubaru to
ogi no yakehara
tatsu hibari
kasumi no uchi ni
koe agarunari
Into the distance, far,
The silver-grass plain is aflame;
A skylark takes flight, and
From within the haze, its
Song soars.

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Tie).


haru fukaki
nobe no kasumi no
shita kaze ni
fukarete agaru
yū hibari kana
Now is the height of spring, and
Haze lies o’er the plains;
The breeze beneath
Gusts, lifting
A skylark, at eventide.



The Right have no comments to make about the Left’s poem, but the Left say they are ‘unused to hearing’ the expression ‘breeze beneath the haze’ (kasumi no shita kaze), and then continue to ask, facetiously, ‘Do you mean to say that skylarks don’t soar without a breeze?’ The Right reply that, ‘when the wind is blowing gently, it appears as if the bird is lifted by it – that is the scene.’

Shunzei states that Left’s poem, with its essence of the skylark’s call emerging from the haze is ‘truly charming’. He did ‘wonder’ about the Right’s essence of the bird being lifted by the breeze, can see the scene of a gentle ‘breeze beneath the haze across the plains’ (nobe no kasumi no shita kaze), and is attracted by both sides’ poems. Thus, there are no winners or losers this round.

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.