Tag Archives: ice

KKS I: 12

A poem from the Poetry Competition held in the reign of the Kanpyō Empress.


tanikaze ni
tokuru koFori no
Fimagoto ni
uti’iduru nami ya
Faru no FatuFana
In the valley’s breezes
Does melt the ice, and
From every crack
Do burst waves – are these
The first blooms of spring?

Minamoto no Masazumi

Love I: 11



kōri iru
mirume nagisa no
tagui kana
ue seku sode no
shita no sazanami
As ice-bound
Algae on the beach
Am I:
The surface stopped up, but my sleeves
Conceal a confusion of waves…

Lord Sada’ie.




ware to wa to
omou ni kakaru
namida koso
osauru sode no
shita ni narinure
I should say nothing,
I feel, and yet
My tears,
Held down by my sleeves,
Do flow beneath them…



The Gentlemen of the Right state: the Left do not seem to be expressing enough. The Gentlemen of the Left state: the initial line of the Right’s poem is difficult to pronounce. In addition, it is difficult to understand.

Shunzei’s judgement: the Left’s ‘the surface stopped up, but my sleeves’ (ue seku sode no) and the Right’s ‘held down by my sleeves’ (osauru sode no) are both elegant in form [yū naru sama], but no matter how much I ponder them I find them difficult to comprehend, so again, there is no clear winner or loser this round.

Winter II: 19

Left (Win).


sayuru yo ni
oshi no fusuma o
sode no kōri o
On a freezing night
Beneath my duck-down bedding
I lie alone;
The ice upon my sleeve
I can never brush away…

A Servant Girl.




ko no ha o ya
tori no uwage ni
neya no fusuma mo
sayuru shimo yo ni
Are there any leaves
Left by the birds
For extra feathers?
The bedding in my chamber
Is frozen with frost tonight…



Neither Left nor Right have anything in particular to say.

Shunzei’s judgement: I wonder about accepting the Left’s ‘Beneath my duck-down bedding I lie alone’ (oshi no fusuma o katashikite). The strengths and weaknesses are plain, and so there is not much more to say than that. The Left wins.

Winter II: 12

Left (Win).


shimizu moru
tani no toboso mo
kōri o tataku
mine no matsukaze
Where spring waters flow
From out the valley mouth
Is stopped;
Against the ice strikes
The wind from off the pine-filled peaks.

A Servant Girl.




kozue ni mo
yowa no shirayuki
oto yowariyuku
mine no matsukaze
The treetops, too,
Within the snows tonight
Are buried, it seems:
The sounds have softened of
The wind from off the pine-filled peaks.



Neither Left nor Right find any fault.

Shunzei’s judgement: The phrasing of both poems, such as ‘wind from off the pine-filled peaks’ (mine no matsukaze), ‘Against the ice strikes’ (kōri o tataku) and ‘sounds have softened’ (oto yowariyuku), has not particular strong or weak points [kōotsu nakuhaberedo], but still, ‘against the ice strikes’ seems a little superior.

Winter II: 1



yamazato wa
asakawa wataru
koma no oto ni
seze no kōri no
hodo o shiru kana
Dwelling in the mountains,
Crossing the river in the morning,
The horses’ footfalls
Upon the ice within the shallows
Tells to me its depth…



Right (Win).


tanikawa no
kōru dani aru
yamazato ni
hito mo oto senu
kesa no shirayuki
The streamlet,
Even, has frozen
At my mountain home;
No folks’ footfalls
On this snow-white morning…



The Right have no criticisms to make of the Left’s poem. The Left just remark that the Right’s use of ‘even’ (dani aru) is ‘poor’ [yokarazu].

Shunzei’s judgement: Despite the Left starting their poem with ‘dwelling in the mountains’ (yamazato wa), even if it is on a winter morning, where must it take place? It must be at a riverside estate, or village. In addition, the only element of the conception of morning, is ‘crossing the river in the morning’ (asa kawa wataru). I do wonder about the sound of ‘even, has frozen’ (kōri dani aru), but the snow in the morning is more moving and charming [aware mo okashiku mo] than the Left’s mere sound of horses’ hooves on ice, so the Right’s is the better poem.