Tag Archives: Kenshō

Love IX: 1

Left
独寝を今は何にかになぐさめん隣の笛も吹やみぬなり

hitorine o
ima wa nani ni ka
nagusamen
tonari no fue mo
fukiyaminu nari
Sleeping solo,
Now, how can I
Console myself?
For the flute next door
Has ceased to play…

Kenshō
1081

Right (Win)
よなよなは枕になれし笛竹のいかなる床にふしかはるらん

yonayona wa
makura ni nareshi
fuetake no
ikanaru toko ni
fushi kawaruran
Night after night
By my pillow used to be
A flute, but
What bed is it that
He has gone to lie in now?

Ietaka
1082

The Right state: the Left’s poem is mundane. The Left state: what does it mean that a flute is used to lying by a pillow?

In judgement: the Left’s poem has ‘for the flute next door has ceased to play’ (tonari no fue mo fukiyaminu nari), but I wonder if this should not be ‘for the flute next door will cease to play’ (tonari no fue mo fukiyamu). In the rhapsody which Xiang Xu wrote on thinking of times long gone, he says this about a neighbour playing an old flute, ‘Next door, there is a man who plays the flute. The sound emerges, echoing clear,’ without any suggestion that he has stopped playing, so I wonder how appropriate it is in this poem to say that the playing has stopped. The diction of the Right’s poem, ‘by my pillow use to be’ (makura ni nareshi) seems fine. Thus, the Right wins.

Love VIII: 25

Left
起きもゐで年ふる戀はをのづから常世の神やしるし見すべき

oki mo ide
toshi furu koi wa
onozukara
tokoyo no kami ya
shirushi misubeki
Unable to arise
From love these many years,
May I
By the eternal gods
Be shown a sign!

Kenshō
1069

Right (Win)
獨臥すながながし夜のかなしきを語らひあかすきりぎりす哉

hitori fusu
naganagashi yo no
kanashiki o
katarai akasu
kirigirisu kana
Lying alone,
So long, long the night’s
Sorrow;
Lightening it with chatter
Are the crickets!

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office
1070

The Gentlemen of the Right state: what is the meaning of ‘the eternal gods’ (toko no kami). In appeal, the Left: in the Chronicles of Japan, insects are worshipped under the name of ‘the eternal gods’ and made to seem like men. The Left state: what can an insect chatter about?

In judgement: in regard to the Left’s poem, while it is true that insects were worshipped, a poem on ‘Love and Insects’ with no insect is lacking something from the start. This poem would seem to be more a case of ‘Love and Prayers’. Thus, this is nothing enduring. A prior example has been contrived, but this is ineffective. It does not seem as if this insect’s nature has any relation to the topic. The Right’s poem has a commonplace cricket. Where is the fault in having it lighten one’s mood with chatter? Thus, the Right must win.

Love VIII: 23

Left (Tie)
身を捨てゝ思へといはゞ唐国の虎臥す谷に世をもつくさん

mi o sutete
omoe to iwaba
karakuni no
tora fusu tani ni
yo o mo tsukusan
‘Abandon all restraint, and
Love me!’ say that, and
In far Cathay,
In a valley where tiger’s lie
Would I end my life!

Kenshō
1065

Right
もろこしの虎臥す嶋もへだつらん思はぬ中のうときけしきは

morokoshi no
tora fusu shima mo
hedatsuran
omowanu naka no
utoki keshiki wa
In Cathay,
Isles where tigers lie
Stand in between:
A heedless love’s
Chill is such a sight!

Jakuren
1066

Left and Right together: both tigers do not seem to emphasise anything in particular.

In judgement:  both poems refer to ‘tigers’ (tora), with the Left having ‘a valley where tigers lie’ (tora fusu tani) and the Right ‘isles where tigers lie’ (tora fusu shima). These seem to be an attempt to differ from the standard ‘meadow’ (nobe). Saying ‘valley’ or ‘isles’ makes both poems sound modern. They are of the same quality.

Love VIII: 17

Left
山鳥のはつおの鏡掛けねども見し面影に音は泣かれけり

yamadori no
hatsuo no kagami
kakenedomo
mishi omokage ni
ne wa nakarekeri
A mountain pheasant’s
Tail of hempen cord this mirror
Does not suspend, yet
The face I saw there once
Makes me weep out loud…

Kenshō
1053

Right (Win)
面影をほの三嶋野に尋ぬれば行衛知られぬ鵙の草ぐき

omokage o
hono mishimano ni
tazunureba
yukue shirarenu
mozu no kusaguki
Her face
I did but briefly see at Mishimano
When I visited there;
I know not where has gone
The shrike hiding in the grasses.

Lord Takanobu
1054

The Gentlemen of the Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to mention. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we wonder about the appropriateness of combining ‘Mishima Plain’ (mishimano) with ‘the shrike hiding in the grasses (mozu no kusaguki). Is there a poem as a precedent for this? If not, is it suitable?

In judgement: both poems have the conception of love: of imagining the pheasant and his mirror, and weeping at the memory of a lover’s face; and thinking of the shrike hiding in the grasses, visiting Mishima Plain, and recalling the past. However, what should we do about the matter of whether there is a precedent poem for ‘the shrike hiding in the grasses’ on Mishima Plain? Surely, it could be any plain, so there is no reason not to use this. The configuration of ‘I know not where has gone’ (yukue shirarenu) sounds better than that of ‘makes me weep out loud’ (ne wa nakarekeri). The Right, again, must win, I think.

 

Love VIII: 7

Left
相思ふ中には枝も交しけり君が梢はいやおちにして

ai’omou
naka ni wa eda mo
kawashikeri
kimi ga kozue wa
iya’ochi ni shite
Joined in love
Branches meet and
Twine together, they say, yet
As the treetops, you fail to come
Again, and yet again.

Kenshō
1033

Right (Win)
人しれぬ心に君を楢柴のしばしもよそに思はずもがな

hito shirenu
kokoro ni kimi o
narashiba no
shibashi mo yoso ni
omowasu mogana
Unknown to all
My heart to you
Inclines among the oaks;
For just a while, as a stranger
I would you not think of me…

Lord Takanobu
1034

The Gentlemen of the Right state: ‘again, and yet again’ (iya’ochi) does not sound pleasant. The Gentlemen of the Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgement: the Left’s poem, having the conception of intertwined branches is pleasant, but ‘treetops at my house’ (yado no kozue) would be normal, so I wonder about ‘as the treetops, you fail to come’ (kimi ga kozue)? In the Right’s poem, although ‘among the oaks; for just a while’ (narashiba no shibashi) is commonplace, it is still more elegant than ‘again and yet again’.

Love VIII: 4

Left (Tie)
ももよ草百夜までなど頼めけむかりそめ臥しの榻のはしがき

momoyogusa
momoyo made nado
tanomekemu
karisome fushi no
shiji no hashigaki
A hundred nights upon the grass:
After a hundred nights, how
Can I trust we’ll meet?
Fitfully pillowed on
The scratches on my shaft stand…

Kenshō
1027

Right
逢事はいつといぶきの嶺に生ふるさしも絶せぬ思ひなりけり

au koto wa
itsu to ibuki no
mine ni ouru
sashimo taesenu
omoi narikeri
When will our meeting
Come? On Ibuki
Peak grows
Moxa, thus, endlessly
Burning, as do my fires of love.

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress Household Office
1028

The Gentlemen of the Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to mention. The Gentlemen of the Left state: it is difficult to grasp that there is nothing said from ‘when will it come? On Ibuki’ (itsu to ibuki). ‘Moza, thus’ (sashimo) does not fit with the end of the poem.

In judgement: I do wonder about the sound of beginning a poem with momoyogusa. Furthermore, originally, the ‘one hundred nights’ (momoyo) would be placed upon the shaft stand. ‘When on Ibuki grows moxa’ (itsu to ibuki no sashimo), too, just as with Inaba’s pines, places too much stress on the peak. The poems are of the same quality and tie.

Love VII: 25

Left (Win).
いざやさは君に逢はずは渡らじと身を宇治橋に書き付けてみん

iza ya sa wa
kimi ni awazu wa
wataraji to
mi o ujihashi ni
kakitsuketemin
So, then,
If I am not to meet you,
I’ll not cross
In my despair, the bridge at Uji,
But just inscribe this here…

Kenshō
1009

Right.
都思ふ濱名の橋の旅人や浪に濡れては恋渡るらむ

miyako omou
hamana no hashi no
tabibito ya
nami ni nurete wa
koiwataruran
His thoughts on the capital,
The bridge at Hamana,
Does a traveller,
Wet by the waves,
Cross while lost in love?

Lord Takanobu
1010

The Gentlemen of the Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to indicate. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we wonder if the Right’s poem does not sound as if it is only the capital which the poet loves?

In judgement: in the Left’s poem, ‘If I am not to meet you, I’ll not cross’ (kimi ni awazu wa wataraji to)  is particularly charming, having the conception of the tale of Sima Xiangru in Mengqiu, at the bridge into the commandery of Shu, where he says, ‘If I am not aboard a four-horse carriage, I’ll never cross this bridge again!’, and then later was made a Cavalryman in Permanent Attendance, and entered as an imperial messenger. Metaphorically, it also evokes his meeting with Wenjun, and so seems particularly profound. The poem of the Right commences with ‘His thoughts on the capital’ (miyako omou) and then continues with ‘wet by the waves, cross while lost in love’ (nami ni nurete wa koiwataruran). I do not see how one can say that this poem lacks the conception of Love. However, the conception of the Left’s poem seems rare, indeed. Thus, it wins.

Love VII: 19

Left.
逢ふ事は苗代水を引き止めて通しはてぬや小山田の關

au koto wa
nawashiro mizu o
hikitomete
tōshihatenu ya
oyamada no seki
Can a meeting, like
The waters round the rice seedlings
Be stopped
In their endless flow
Past the Oyamada Barrier?

Kenshō
997

Right (Win).
衣手は清見が關にあらねども絶ゆるよもなき涙也けり

koromode wa
kiyomi ga seki ni
aranedomo
tayuru yo mo naki
namida narikeri
My sleeves as
The Barrier at Kiyomi
Are not, yet
Without cease
Are my tears…

Lord Tsune’ie.
998

The Right state: we are unfamiliar with the expression ‘Oyamada Barrier’ (oyamada no seki). The Left state: it sounds as if it is tears that are ceaseless at the Barrier at Kiyomi.

In judgement: the Left’s poem is stylistically tasteful, but with only ‘can a meeting, like the waters round the rice seedlings’ (au koto wa nawashiro mizu) the conception of love is weak is it not? The Right’s poem metaphorically has tears ceaseless at the Barrier at Kiyomi, and with the ta present, I accept the Left’s point to a certain extent, but this type of thing is not unusual in metaphorical poems.  In addition, there is little reason to imagine the waters round the rice-seedlings being blocked. As it has a stronger focus on Love, the Right wins.

Love VII: 13

Left (Tie).
聞きわたるありなれ河の水にこそ影を傡べて住まゝほしけれ

kikiwataru
arinaregawa no
mizu ni koso
kage o narabete
sumamahoshikere
Echoes cross
The Arinare River’s
Waters;
Bringing to mind the face
Of the one I would be with…

Kenshō
985

Right.
涙川逢ふ瀬も知らぬみをつくし丈越す程になりにけるかな

namidagawa
ause mo shiranu
miotsukushi
take kosu hodo ni
narinikeru kana
A river of tears:
I know no way for us to meet, so
The channel buoys, my soul,
Are flooded over –
That is how they be!

Nobusada
986

The Gentlemen of the Right state: we are not accustomed to hearing the expression ‘Arinare River’ (arinaregawa), and the ending of the poem is old-fashioned. The Gentlemen of the Left state: ‘are flooded over’ (take kosu hodo) sounds excessively modern.

In judgement: ‘Arinare River’ is unusual, and the final section of the Left’s poem is certainly old-fashioned. The ‘river of tears’’ (namidagawa) ‘channel buoys’ (miotsukushi) do seem to be enduring an excess of water, don’t’ they! The round should tie.

Love VII: 7

Left.
鯨取るさかしき海の底までも君だに住まば浪路しのがん

kujira toru
sakashiki umi no
soko made mo
kimi dani sumaba
namij shinoga
The whale-hunting
Savage sea’s
Depths: even there,
Should it be your dwelling,
Would I endure the waves…

Kenshō.
973

Right (Win).
石見潟千尋の底もたとふれば淺き瀬になる身の恨かな

iwamigata
chihiro no soko mo
tatoureba
asaki se ni naru
mi o urami kana
Iwamigata:
Your thousand fathom depths
I take as
A shallow shoal
For my despite.

Jakuren.
974

The Right state:  the Left’s poem leaves a fearsome impression, does it not? The Left state: we find no fault with the Right’s poem.

In judgement: The Left’s ‘whale hunting’ (kujira toran) I remember occurring in the Man’yōshū, but among many of that collection’s oddly-styled poems. However, it does sound extremely fearsome. When Emperor Qin Shihuang sought Mount Penglai, although he said to ‘shoot’ (iyo) great fish, I have not heard that he went so far as to ‘hunt’ (tore) them. Generally speaking, poems should evoke delicacy and charm, and what purpose is served, for the way of poetry, or for the individual, by frightening people deliberately? The Right’s Iwamigata and ‘For my despite’ (mi no urami kana) recalls an official complaining over being passed over for promotion. However, I cannot accept the Left’s poem. Thus, the Right wins.