Tag Archives: Kenshō

Love X: 15

Left
藻塩やく海人のまくかたならねども恋のそめきもいとなかりけり

moshio yaku
ama no makuka
tanaranedomo
koi no someki mo
ito nakarikeri
Burning seaweed for salt,
Scattering on the shore are the fisher-girls;
Not just so, but
From the tumult of love
Is there little respite.

Kenshō
1169

Right (Win)
思ひにはたぐひなるべき伊勢の海人も人を恨みぬ袖ぞ濡れける

omoi ni wa
taguinarubeki
ise no ama mo
hito o uraminu
sode zo nurekeru
In thoughts of love
Are we the same:
The diver girls at Ise,
Gazing at bay, with no sight of you
My sleeves are soaked.

Ietaka
1170

The Right state: there is a theory that ‘scattering on the shore’ (ama no makukata) is actually ‘waiting’ (matekata). How should this phrase be correctly be understood here? In response, the Left: the poem was composed from the standpoint that ‘scattering on the shore’ is correct. The Later Selection texts vary between ku and te, but ‘without surcease’ (itoma nami) is an appropriate expression for burning seaweed for salt. In both the Collection of a Myriad Leaves and the Tales of Ise there is the expression ‘ceaseless salt burning (shio yaku itoma nashi). In addition, there is the Ise Priestess Consort’s poem ‘Scattering on the shore, the fisher-girls rake seaweed’, where te would not be suitable. Izumi Shikibu’s poem:

伊勢の海の海人のあまたのまてかたにおりやとるらん浪の花なみ

ise no umi no
ama no amata no
matekata ni
ori ya toruran
nami no hananami
By the sea at Ise
Crowds of fisher-girls
A’waiting
To be plucked –
A row of blossoms on the waves.

is written with te, but ‘crowds of fisher-girls’ seems to suit the conception of burning seaweed. The Right still find fault: in the Muroyama Lay Priest’s Collection in a Tortoiseshell Mirror, Hideaki’s poem is written with mate. In addition, it evokes a scene of evaporation pools, and is there such an activity as scattering salt on the shore? In response: the salt kilns are on the shore. It is they which are scattered. People from the area have told me as much. In addition, mate could mean looking for razor clams (mategai) in the sand. And the girls would not be completely occupied doing this. In response, the Right: that is not the only possible meaning of mate. When the fisher-girls are busy with their work, and have no respite from it, one uses itoma nami. The Left have no criticisms to make of the Right’s poem.

In judgement: the Left’s poem, with the initial ama no makukata, followed by the final section ‘from the tumult of love is there little respite’ (koi no someki mo ito nakarikeri) fails to sound elegant. There should be no confusion over this issue. Lord Hide’aki’s poem in the Later Selection is plainly ‘a diver-girl does wait without surcease’ (ama no matekata itoma nami). On this matter, long ago when I was in attendance upon His Majesty, Emperor Sutoku, he presented me with the commentaries on problematic poems by a certain personage written as he remembered them, and His Majesty asked, ‘People say there are many errors in this text – is this true?’ to which I replied, ‘When it came to making things, there are errors in even those made by the wisest men of old. What you could call imperfect scholarship.’ In the midst of talking about this and that, I mentioned problems in the Later Selection, and that this matekata poem was written maku; I didn’t provide any commentary, just simply said, ‘This is matekata. The fact that there are texts which erroneously write maku have produced some doubt over this,’ and when people later heard that I had said this, his followers got confused and thought I meant maku was correct. ‘Without surcease’ (itoma nami) is particularly suitable for matekata. ‘Waiting’ (matekata) and ‘burning seaweed for salt’ (moshio yaku) are both things which fisher-girls do endlessly – there is no difference between them. Both the Collection of a Myriad Leaves and the Tales of Ise say ‘fisher-girls without surcease’ (ama no itoma nashi). Nowhere does it say ‘scattering’ (makukata). In addition, the shore where they burn seaweed for salt on the beach (hama ni shio yaku kata) bears no resemblance to scattering salt (shio o maku). Moreover, as for the Ise Virgin Consort’s poem, there are many texts which have mate, and any versions of both this anthology and of the Later Selection, too, which have maku are erroneous. There is also a poem in reply to the Consort’s poem ‘Scattered on the shore, / Raking, the fisher-girls gather / Sea-salt weed: / Where does the smoke / Rise to, I ask, my love?’ There are many who argue that this should be maku, but it simply means that the fisher-girls are busy. Matekata and itomanaki koto mean the same thing. In conclusion, we must have regard to the Later Selection poem. Hide’aki has left only a few poems, but was surrounded by poets of peerless talent. Whichever way one looks at it, he was not one to produce an erroneous poem. The Right’s poem has nothing special about it, but as the Left uses ‘from the tumult of love is there little respite’ which sounds old-fashioned and unpleasant, and there is no evidence that makukata is correct, the Right wins.

Love X: 7

Left
頼むなるあさけ神しも幣はせん君が心やわれになびくと

tanomu naru
asake kami shimo
nusa wa sen
kimi ga kokoro ya
ware ni nabiku to
Worship she does
The goddess Asake, so should even
I make her an offering?
Then might my lady’s heart
Trail in my direction…

Kenshō
1153

Right (Win)
鏡山君に心やうつるらむいそぎ立たれぬ旅衣かな

kagamiyama
kimi ni kokoro ya
utsururamu
isogi tatarenu
tabigoromo kana
Upon Mirror Mount
Has my heart
Found lodging? For
In haste to rise and don
My travelling garb, I am not!

Lord Tsune’ie
1154

Left and Right state: there are no faults to mention in either poem.

In judgement: both Left and Right here refer to a ‘person’ (kimi), with the Left’s ‘making her an offering’ (nusa wa sen) that she might ‘trail in my direction’ (ware ni nabiku ya), while the Right’s has left his heart on Mirror Mount and ‘is not in haste to rise and don his travelling garb’ (isogi tatarenu tabigoromo): each of these poems is evocative, and makes effective use of wordplay, with the Left’s ‘make her an offering’ certainly resembling something I have come across previously, but the initial ‘goddess Asake’ is poor. The Right’s ‘Mirror Mount’ (kagami yama) is something I am familiar with, and this has a gentle tone. Thus, the Right wins.

Love X: 1

Left
蘆間分け月にうたひて漕ぐ舟に心ぞまづは乗りうつりぬる

ashima wake
tsuki ni utaite
kogu fune ni
kokoro zo mazu wa
nori’utsurinuru
Parting the reeds, and
Singing to the moon,
Boats come rowing out –
My heart, it is, that is first
Aboard and carried away…

Kenshō
1141

Right (Win)
浪の上にくだるを舟のむやひして月にうたひし妹ぞ戀しき

nami no ue ni
kudaru o fune no
muyaishite
tsuki ni utaishi
imo zo koishiki
Upon the waves,
Her boat departs,
Vanishing into the mist;
That moon-sung
Girl is dear to me, indeed!

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office
1142

The Right state: the Left’s poem lacks much of a conception of pleasure girls. In appeal: the poem was written in the conception of Mochitoki’s Chinese poem on pleasure girls ‘the reed-leaves are fresh in springtime’. The Left state: the Right’s poem has nothing worth mentioning.

In judgement: is the conception of pleasure girls really absent from the Left’s ‘parting the reeds, and singing to the moon’ (ashima wake tsuki ni utaite)? The case certainly cannot rely on ‘the reed-leaves are fresh in springtime’. A Chinese poem expresses its topic in its initial line. It is normal for the introduction of the topic to be vague. Japanese and Chinese poetry have aspects where they are similar, and aspects where they differ. Thus, it is not appropriate to cite a Chinese poem’s broaching of its topic as evidence for a Japanese poem’s content. There are certainly other examples by Mochitoki, such as his overlong line in ‘in a boat atop the waves, but I find the same pleasure in life’. The line about reed-leaves can in no way function as proof. Thus this poem, as ‘an old fisherman sings a single shanty’ could be said to be about an old man. As a result, given the lack of clarity in the poem, it is not possible to accept that it is about a pleasure girl. The Right’s poem concludes ‘that moon-sung girl is dear to me, indeed’ (tsuki ni utaishi imo zo koishiki). The final line seems to be almost pointlessly pedestrian, but the poem is certainly about love for a pleasure girl. The Right must win.

Love IX: 25

Left (Tie)
出にける君が夜床の狭筵にひとり寝してや肌を触れまし

idenikeru
kimi ga yodoko no
samushiro ni
hitorineshite ya
hada o furemashi
Departed
Is he from our bed tonight, so
On his blanket
Should I sleep alone,
Might I touch his skin?

Kenshō
1129

Right
綾むしろ立ち寄る人はなけれどもあらましにのみ敷きてこそ待て

ayamushiro
tachiyoru hito wa
nakeredomo
aramashi ni nomi
shikite koso mate
To my patterned blanket
He has not
Drawn near, yet
In simple longing
Will I spread it and await him…

Lord Tsune’ie
1130

Both Left and Right together state: this seems somewhat jocular.

In judgement: the Left’s conception of starting with ‘departed’ (idenikeru), as the poem of a woman sleeping alone and finding traces of a the man who has left on the blanket, sounds extremely poor in style. On the other hand, if it is a man’s poem, has he come upon the traces of a woman after she has left? In any case, whichever it is the initial line is not good at all. The Right’s poem, with its ‘to my patterned blanket he has not drawn near, yet’ (ayamushiro tachiyoru hito wa nakeredomo), also appears to be a woman’s poem. The Left’s humour, and the Right’s longing, are both eccentric. The round must tie.

Love IX: 19

Left
戀衣いつか干るべき河社しるしも浪にいとゞしほれて

koigoromo
itsuka hirubeki
kawa yashiro
shirushi mo nami ni
itodo shiorete
My clothes of love,
When might they dry?
A river shrine
Has had no effect – the waves
Dampen them all the more…

Kenshō
1117

Right (Win)
いかで猶夜半の衣を返しても重ねしほどの夢をだに見ん

ikade nao
yowa no koromo o
kaeshitemo
kasaneshi hodo no
yume o dani min
What to do? Again
My night time garb
Inside out I turn –
As many layers
As dreams, if only I would see…

Takanobu
1118

The Right state: there are a number of different theories about the source poem ‘stems of bamboo wave freely the clothes I’d dry’ (shino ni orihae hosu koromo), so how should the allusion here be correctly understood? In response: this refers to a summer performance of sacred music and dance. In this, sprigs of sakaki are placed in clear water, and bamboo stems are hung from the shelf as offerings. This is the river shrine (kawa yashiro). It appears in the records about sacred music in summer. Standard sacred music is performed to pray to the gods. Thus, if one is made to bear the weight of something one has not done, the feeling is close to the conception of damp clothes, is it not? And this is associated with the clothes of lovers that will not dry. The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgement:  the Left’s poem seems to be more about a ‘river shrine’ than ‘lovers’ clothing’ (koigoromo). While it is not entirely clear, the Left and Right’s criticism and response, are certainly unusual. There are two poems which are possible as sources for this, both of which appear in Tsurayuki’s Collection. These are: ‘At a river shrine / Stems of bamboo wave freely / The clothes I’d dry / How should I do so? / Seven days still damp…’  and:

行く水のうへにいはへる河社河浪高くあそぶなるかな

yuku mizu no
ue ni iwaeru
kawa yashiro
kawa nami takaku
asobunaru kana
The waters run, and
Above them in celebration is
A river shrine;
The river’s waves rise high,
Taking pleasure in their play!

This latter is a poem from a folding screen with pictures of each of the moons of the year, painted in the Tenryaku Era. Moreover, in a work by Lord Toshiyori, he says, ‘There is no one today who knows what a “river shrine” is. All we can do now is guess. So people say that it was a shrine on top of the water, where sacred music was performed in summer. The latter poem certainly does not seem to have this meaning. The former makes no mention of sacred music, and simply talks of clothing one has wanted to dry for a long time not drying.’ In addition, I have questioned a member of a household familiar with sacred music about this matter, and been told, ‘Where summer sacred music is concerned, there is a particular way of it. It is definitely absent from the records.’ Furthermore, Toshiyori played the double-reed flute. He would clearly have known all about sacred music, and around this time wrote, ‘first of all, there is no one who knows of this,’ and yet the Left’s response simply states, ‘it appears in the records about sacred music.’ This is something which requires greater proof. If the gentleman of the Left is able to provide some now, this would be a fine thing for the Way of Music! These, in brief, are my thoughts on this matter and, of course, the Left’s response.

First, it is a mistake to say that the river shrine is necessarily connected with summer sacred music. Summer sacred music is just what it sounds like: in summer, sacred music is performed, but not in any fixed way. However, here summer sacred music is done before a river shrine. Kawa yashiro shino ni is an old term for widely or ordinarily. It appears to have been used this way in the Collection of a Myriad Leaves. Orihaete has the same meaning. In the phrase ‘drying a robe / seven days undrying’ (hosu koromo / nanoka hizu) seven, or eight, days is simply a poetic convention for conveying that something was not dry after a long time. The ‘robe’ is not really a piece of clothing, but something which resembles it, and which is not dry. Ise said of the so-called Ryūmon Waterfall, ‘So why should the mountain’s princess rinse her cloth’ (nani yama hime no nuno sarasuramu) and also there are expressions such as ‘Nunohiki Falls’. Thus we have the Left’s argument for the summer sacred music platform, and then Lord Toshiyori’s writings; further, on the term shino ‘bamboo hung from the shelf as an offering to the gods’ and ‘clothing has the conception of damp clothing’. This is a remarkable way of interpreting the poem, indeed! The only way to settle the matter would be with the presentation of definite proof. So, this is certainly something which His Grace should request for review. In short, the Left’s poem, beginning with the idea that lovers’ clothing is to pray at a river shrine, and then saying ‘it has no effect’ (shirushi mo nami ni) seems like everlasting bitterness. The Right’s poem says ‘my night time garb inside out I turn’ (yowa no koromo o kaeshitemo), which is quite ordinary. In the absence of definite proof for the Left’s contentions, the Right must win.

Love IX: 18

Left
いとはれて胸やすからぬ思をば人の上にぞ書きうつしつる

itowarete
mune yasukaranu
omoi o ba
hito no ue ni zo
kakiutsushitsuru
Being despised
And my unquiet heart
Filled with feelings
Upon her
I paint them out!

Kenshō
1115

Right (Win)
いかにせん絵にかく妹にあらねどもまこと少き人心かな

ika ni sen
e ni kaku imo ni
aranedomo
makoto sukunaki
hitogokoro kana
What am I to do?
A lady painted in a picture
She is not, yet
How lacking are
Her feelings!

Nobusada
1116

The Right state: what is the Left’s poem about? In appeal: it reflects Changkang, who, feeling a woman living next door was beautiful, painted her and was then able to meet her. The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgement: I, too, was unsure of the meaning of ‘my unquiet heart filled with feelings upon her’ (mune yasukaranu omoi woba hito no ue ni zo), and after reading the Left’s response, I am still unclear. In general, in these cases it is customary to cite the source of such things, and to hear of such wide reading is interesting indeed, but this is simply, ‘it reflects Changkang, who, feeling a woman living next door was beautiful, painted her and was then able to meet her’, so it would be difficult to locate within the usual Three Histories; furthermore, I have no recollection of a person named in this Chinese manner, and so an ignorant old man like myself can only ask, who is this Nagayasu? More importantly, though, I do not feel the conception of this poem is particularly well-matched to the topic. The Right’s ‘a lady painted in a picture’ (e ni kaku imo) is a little over-explicit, but ‘how lacking are’ (makoto sukunaki) would seem to be in the style of the Kazan Archbishop, and as I feel this is easier to understand than Nagayasu, I make the Right the winner.

Love IX: 10

Left (Win)
あはれとて聞き知る人はなけれども恋しき琴の音こそ絶えせね

aware tote
kikishiru hito wa
nakeredomo
koishiki koto no
ne koso taesene
To be moved
By hearing is there
No one, yet
My beloved zither’s
Strains sound on and on…

Kenshō
1099

Right
なをざりにはかなくすさむ琴の音もまつには通ふ物とこそ聞け

naozari ni
hakanaku susamu
koto no ne mo
matsu ni wa kayou
mono to koso kike
Carelessly and
Wildly plucked
My zither’s strains
Blend with the pines
I had heard…

Lord Takanobu
1100

The Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to mention. The Left state: the Right’s poem is not bad.

In judgement: both Gentlemen’s ‘zithers’ (koto) appear to be equally elegant, and the Right has a fine final section. The Left seems pleasant in both the initial and latter sections. So, the Left wins.

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.