Tag Archives: Jakuren

Spring I: 5

Left (Tie).


mutsuki tatsu
kyô no matoi ya
momoshiki no
toyo no akari no
On the year’s turn
Today, with a congenial gathering
At the hundredfold palace,
Do the banquets – rubicund faces all –
Perhaps, begin?



Right (Tie).


momoshiki ya
sode o tsuranuru
sakazuki ni
ei o susumuru
haru no hatsukaze
At the hundredfold palace,
Arrayed sleeves and
Wine cups are
Pressed to a pleasant drunkenness by
The first breeze of spring.




The Right state that ‘on the year’s turn’ (mutsuki tatsu) is an expression they ‘are not accustomed to hearing’ [kikinarezu oboyu]. The Left, in response, say that this expression occurs in the Man’yōshū. The Right then state that ‘rubicund faces all’ (toyo no akari) is unclear. The Left reply that the various Imperial seasonal banquets are referred to as such in Imperial proclamations. The Left have no criticisms of the Right’s poem.

Shunzei’s judgement: The gentlemen of the Right have stated that mutsuki tatsu is something particularly worthy of criticism, but I do not feel this to be the case at all [makoto ni oboehaberazu]. I definitely recall seeing poems containing mutsuki tatsu in the Man’yōshū. However, even if something occurs in the Man’yōshū, I do not feel either Left or Right should cite it in support [sayū naku shōko to subeshi to mo oboehaberazu]. Someone now dead once told me that we should pick the tasteful sections of the Man’yōshū [man’yōshū wa yūnaru koto o toru beki]. Meaning that in that anthology there are many poems which sound unpleasant [kikinikuki], such as ‘Dig it from Lord Yamada’s nose!‘ and ‘Drinking wine, weeping drunkenly‘ which it would be difficult to select now. To the time of that anthology, they did not avoid poetic faults [uta no yamai]. Therefore, such poems should definitely not be used as sources for poetry competitions [kanarazushimo uta’awase no toki wa rei to nasubekarazaru]. This is not the case with the poem in question, but it needs to be said. Moreover, in Imperial Proclamations,toyo no akari (豊明) appears to be written 豊楽. Both Left and Right have already given their opinions on the poem’s overall conception [fūtei]. In terms of its sense, in one area alone is it surprising: instead of ‘custom’ (narai wa) which is normal in poetry in these situations, it uses ‘congenial gathering’ (matoi), which evokes the plucking of a catalpa bow; when one uses toyo no akari, one would normally then continue with expressions such as “cloudless world” (kumori naki yo ). In the present poem, however, there is nothing for it to connect to. The Right’s poem simply concludes ‘first breeze of spring’ (haru no hatsukaze), and while one can hear the New Year in this, the scenery of ‘Pressed to a pleasant drunkenness’ (ei o susumuru) is more that of the Twisting Waters banquet (gokusui no en) or of composition on ‘peach blossom skies‘. In sum, then, the poem fails to sound elegant in style [uta no tei mo yū ni shi mo kikoehaberazarubeshi]. The Left’s matoi, too, has no links within the poem. Neither is worthy of a win I feel. Thus, this round is, again, a tie.

SKKS XX: 1949

On the spirit of chanting the name of the Buddha, against all odds, as in the Lotus Sutra.


fukaki yo no
mado utsu ame ni
oto senu wa
uki yo o noki no
shinobu narikeri
In the depths of night
The rains striking ‘gainst my window
Make no sound–
From this cruel world I have left,
And try to remain so.

The Monk Jakuren


Composed on the moon as a friend over many autumns at the poetry competition in the Poetry Office on the evening of the 15th of the Eighth Month.


takasago no
matsu mo mukashi ni
nao yukusue wa
aki no yo no tsuki
The Takasago
Pines will in the past
Recede, no doubt;
Still into the future passes
The moon on Autumn nights.

The Monk Jakuren

SKKS VI: 705

Composed on the spirit of the year’s end by the seashore, at the home of the Tsuchimikado Grand Minister (Minamoto no Michichika (1149-1202)).


oi no nami
koekeru mi koso
kotoshi mo ima wa
sue no matsuyama
Eld in waves
Doth break upon my breast, and
I am sorrow-struck, indeed;
For this year, now is the
End, the peak of Matsuyama.

The Monk Jakuren

SKKS V: 522

At a time when the Regent and Grand Minister was a colonel, he had this composed for him as part of a hundred poem sequence.


kasasagi no
kumo no kakewashi
aki kurete
yowa ni wa shimo ya
The magpies’
Bridge, spans the clouds,
And at the end of autumn
In night’s depths, is it the frost
That falls all around.

The Monk Jakuren (d. 1202)