The Right state that pheasants do not cry out during the winter, to which the Left reply that this is seen occasionally in recent poetry. The Left then comment that mi occurs too often in the Right’s poem.
Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s ‘traces of times long gone’ (furuki ato o ya) is most fine [yoroshiku haberubeshi]. On pheasants crying in winter, it goes without saying that they do not, and in this poem in particular, I wonder about the appropriateness of ‘pheasants crying’ (because it was convention to avoid anything with potentially negative associations in a poem on the topic of Imperial Visits). The Right’s poem commences with ‘His Majesty’ (suberagi no) and continues with ‘the very blades of grass do bow’ (kusaha mo nabiku) which has felicitous associations. Thus, the Right must win.
The Right state that ‘most apt’ (tokoro ete) is rarely heard in poems. The Left reply that ‘track’ (kata ato) is the same.
Shunzei’s judgement: The poem of the Left sounds grandiose, but there is something dubious about it. When starting with Ōhara (ōhara ya), one expects it to be followed by ‘Oshio Mountain’, as it suggests the field of Ōhara. Without that following Oshio Mountain, when one encounters Ōhara, on recollects both ‘misty clear waters’ and ‘waters of a pure, peaceful well’, and does not know to which the Ōhara refers. There is no precedent at all for Imperial vists to the Ōhara which lies at the foot of Mount Hiei. There are, however, for visits to Mount Oshio. In the poem on ‘waters of a pure, peaceful well’, it states that ‘though there are no birds, we visit for our pleasure’, so it would be impossible for the ‘white banded hawk’ to take prey a’wing there. I have heard ‘tracks’ before, but the poem has little sense of truly knowing ‘Saga Field’, yet there have, without doubt, been Imperial visits there, so ‘tracks’ must be the better poem.
kasumi wo ya
kemuri to mien
tuma mo komoreru
Does seem as smoke;
On Musashino Plain
With his hen hidden
A pheasant calls.
The Left snap back that as Yorimasa’s poem is not included in the imperial anthologies, they could not have seen it, and in any case, what sort of criticism is it to say that it ‘resembles Yorimasa’s poem?’ As for the Right’s poem, ‘do pheasants always hide in the grass come the morning?’
Shunzei comments that it is ‘a bit much’ to avoid Yorimasa’s poem altogether. Although he does then go on to say that ‘there’s no reason to strong arm in examples’ of poems not in the imperial anthologies. However, ‘what’s the point’ of associating ‘today’ (kyō) so strongly with ‘smoke’ (kemuri)? (It was supposed to be used only for particular days, such as the first day of spring.) In the Right’s poem ‘When morning’s haze/Has cleared, how swiftly’ (asa kasumi/harureba yagate) ‘has nothing needing criticism about it’, so the their poem is superior this round.