Tag Archives: Lightning

Autumn I: 18

Left (Left).


kaze wataru
asaji ga ue no
tsuyu ni dani
yadori mo hatenu
yoi no inazuma
Brushed by the breeze,
Atop the cogon grass
The dewdrops but
Briefly rest:
Lightning at dusk.

Lord Ari’ie.




kaze fuku nobe no
tsuyu ni dani
yadori mo hatenu
inazuma no kage
Idly gazing
Across the windblown meadow;
The dewdrops but
Briefly rest:
Lightning’s light.



The Right simply say, ‘The Left’s poem is fine, is it not!’ The Left, however, grumble, ‘We cannot see how the final phrase relates to what has come before.’

Shunzei states, ‘Both poems are remarkably similar in spirit and diction, with the Left concluding “lightning at dusk” (yoi no inazuma) and the Right with “lightning’s light” (inazuma no kage) – is there really much to choose between them? The Left wins.’

Autumn I: 17

Left (Win).


hakanashi ya
aretaru yado no
utatane ni
inazuma kayou
tamakura no tsuyu
How brief it was!
In a ruined dwelling
Dozing, when
Lightning crossed
The dewdrops on my pillowing arm…

A Servant Girl.




sawa no hotaru wa
kage kiete
taedae yadoru
yoi no inazuma
All together have
The fireflies above the marsh
Lost their light;
Briefly remaining,
Lightning at the dusk…



The Right state that they have no criticisms of the Left’s poem. The Left wonder about the suitability of fireflies disappearing in the autumn.

Shunzei feels, ‘The Left’s poem is certainly charming in form and expression, but more thought should have been given to the initial phrase “How brief it was!” (hakanashi ya). The Right’s poem, too, is charming, and as for fireflies being a topic for summer poetry alone, in autumn it is acceptable to compose on the failing of their light, is it not? Did not Anjin compose “Fireflies flashing on the palace stairs and gates/Crickets crying from the eaves and tiles”? There is also the example from the Collection of Songs to Sing Aloud of “Seeking cuckoo calls in the dawntime clouds/Innumerable fireflies flit among the autumn grasses”. Still, the Left’s “dewdrops on my pillowing arm” wins, I think.’

Autumn I: 16



yoi no ma no
tsuki matsu hodo no
kumoma yori
omowanu kage o
misuru inazuma
In the early evening
While waiting for the moon,
From between the clouds
All unexpected is the light
Of lightning.

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Win).


kagerō yoi no
kumoma yori
hikari o kaete
terasu inazuma
The evening moon
Misty is at dusk, when
From between the clouds
Comes a different light:
A flash of lightning!

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


Neither team finds any fault with the other’s poem this round.

Shunzei, however, says, ‘Both poems contain the line “from between the clouds” (kumoma yori), with the Left “while waiting for the moon” (tsuki matsu hodo) and the Right “The evening moon misty is at dusk” (yūzukuyo kagerō yoi). In addition to the fact that “misty” is far more charming in relation to an “evening moon”, than “waiting for the moon”, “all unexpected is the light” (omowanu kage) is not an expression I find particularly pleasing. “Comes a different light” (hikari o kaete) seem much finer. Thus, I make the right the winner.’

Autumn I: 15

Left (Tie).


aki no yo ni
ikutabi bakari
inaba no tsuyu ni
yadoru inazuma
On an autumn night
How many times does
It flash, I wonder?
In the dewfall on the seedling rice
Lightning has found a home.

Lord Kanemune.


Right (Tie).


yama no ha ni
nokoreru kumo no
taema yori
tobata no omo ni
kayou inazuma
On the mountains’ edge
Rest clouds, and
From the space between
Across the face of Tobata field
Passes lightning.



The Right state that they find the Left’s poem ‘commonplace’ [mezurashikarazu], while the Left remark that the Right’s poem ‘ has no faults, but we wonder about the utility of “Tobata”?’

Shunzei’s judgment: While the Left’s poem recalls the verse ‘How many times have I awakened’ (ikutabi bakari nezameshite), in form, I certainly feel it is good [utazama, yoroshiku koso haberumere]. As for the Right’s poem, though there is no particular wording which calls for the use of ‘Tobata’, as a large paddy field which is close to the capital, it does not seem that there is a reason not to use it. Thus, this round is a tie.

Autumn I: 14

Left (Tie).


inazuma no
hikari ni nomi ya
tanaka no sato no
yūyami no sora
Is it lightning’s
Light alone, that
Can console?
Dwelling among the rice-fields
Beneath the blackened evening sky.



Right (Tie).


shitsu no o ga
yamada no io no
toma o arami
moru inazuma o
tomo to koso mire
A peasant in
The mountain fields, whose hut has
A rough roof of straw:
The lightning dripping in
Seems his single friend.

Lord Tsune’ie.


As with the previous round, neither team can find fault with the other’s poem.

Shunzei, however, says, ‘The initial part of the Left’s poem is fine, indeed, but one wonders where the “dwelling among the rice fields” (tanaka no sato) is. I wonder whether nowadays poets can simply refer to a house among the rice fields. I do seem to have heard it before, but for the life of me I cannot remember where. As for the Right’s poem, this, too, has a perfectly standard beginning, but then has the expression “lightning dripping” (moru inazuma) – this seems rather new-fangled to me! Both poems are about the same.’

Autumn I: 13

Left (Win).


kage yadosu
hodo naki sode no
tsuyu no ue ni
naretemo utoki
yoi no inazuma
The light dwells
But for an instant on my sleeves
Where dewdrops rest;
Accustomed to it though I am, how distant is
Lightning in the evening.

Lord Sada’ie.




mubatama no
yami o arawasu
inazuma mo
hikari no hodo wa
Dark, broken by
The flash,
So brief.

Lord Takanobu.


Neither team can find fault with the other’s poem this round.

Shunzei feels, ‘The spirit of “an instant on my sleeves” (hodo naki sode) is particularly fine, is it not? Prefacing “dark, broken by” (yami o arawasu) with “lily-seed” (mubatama no), seems somewhat overblown, and then concluding with “so brief” (hakanakarikeri) contradicts the initial statement. “Lightning in the evening” (yoi no inazuma) should win.’