Tag Archives: moonflowers

Summer II: 18



shizu ga kakine mo
hikari kotonaru
yūgao no hana
Creeping from the matted growth
The peasant’s fence
Shines with the fair hues
Of a special light:
Moonflower blooms.

Lord Ari’ie.




tasogare ni
magaite sakeru
hana no na o
ochikata hito ya
towaba kotaemu
In the dusk
Entangled, blooming;
The flowers’ name
A distant stranger
Were I to ask, would he reply?

Lord Takanobu.


The Right wonder whether the expression ‘shine with fair hues’ (irowayu) is quite proper. The Left complain that ‘in the poem “distant stranger/will I raise my voice” there is no mention of moonflowers.

Shunzei states, ‘In the Left’s poem, it might be acceptable to talk of the “fence’s hue” (kakine no iro), but “shines with the fair hues” (irowaete)is undesirable. As for the Right’s poem, the response to the “distant stranger” in the original poem contains the phrase ‘when in Spring’ (haru sareba). It is certainly not a reference to moonflowers. In Genji, the Prince sees some white blossoms, and mentions the “distant strangers”; his bodyguard hears and understands, saying, “Those are called moonflowers,” and this is no mistake, however, to refer to Genji so obliquely is poor. It does the work a disservice. Still, with the Left’s “shines with fair hues” it is difficult to determine a winner. A tie it is!”

Summer II: 17

Left (Tie).


nasake zo miyuru
arate kumu
shizu ga soto mo no
yūgao no hana
How natural
To be moved:
Twined roughly round the fence
Outside a peasant’s hut,
Moonflower blooms…



Right (Tie).


yamagatsu no
chigiri no hodo ya
yoru o nomi matsu
yūgao no hana
Is it with the mountain man
Her time is pledged
So secretly?
For the night alone, awaiting,
The moonflower bloom.



The Right state, ‘it is normal diction to say ‘roughly’ (arate) ‘hang’ (kaku). Is it possible to also use ‘twine’ (kumu)?’ In response from the Left, ‘Yes, one can.’ The Left have no criticisms to make of the Right’s poem.

Shunzei states, ‘Both poems are equally lacking in faults or merits. Whether one uses “roughly” twining or hanging, neither is particularly superlative, I think. “Her time is pledged” (chigiri no hodo ya) seems somehow lacking , too. This round must tie.’

Summer II: 16

Left (Win).


kusa no ha nabiku
kaze no ma ni
kakine suzushiki
yūgao no hana
At the first fall of dusk
Blades of grass rustle
In the breeze;
On the brushwood fence coolly
Blooms a moonflower.

Lord Sada’ie.




hikazu furu
yuki ni shioreshi
yūgao sakeru
shizu ga takegaki
Day after passing day
Of snowfall has draped it,
I feel,
Moonflowers blooming on
A peasant’s bamboo fence.

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right state, ‘Both “first fall of dusk” (kuresomete) and “in the breeze” (kaze no ma ni) are unusual expressions.’ The Left in return say, ‘It sounds as if the bamboo fence is weighed down with moonflowers!’ (The Left here are interpreting the verb shioru to mean ‘bend down’ which is one of its senses. I have not followed this in my translation, in line with Shunzei’s judgement, below.)

Shunzei comments, ‘The gentlemen of the Right have stated that “first fall of dusk” (kuresomete) and “in the breeze” (kaze no ma ni) are unusual expressions, but I do not feel this to be particularly the case. As for yuki ni shiroreshi, surely this simply means that the fence is draped. In any case, however, “on the brushwood fence, coolly” is the superior poem in every way.’

Summer II: 15

Left (Tie).


kayaribi no
kemuri ibuseki
shizu no io ni
susukenu mono wa
yūgao no hana
Mosquito smudge fires’
Fumes fill the dreary
Peasant’s hut; but
Untouched by soot are
The moonflower blooms.

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Tie).


kemuri tatsu
shizu no iori ka
usugiri no
magaki ni sakeru
yūgao no hana
Is this smoke rising from
The peasants’ huts?
Faintly misted
Blooming on the rough-hewn fence
Are moonflowers…



The Right have no criticisms to make this round. The Left simply say the phrase ‘huts? Faintly misted’ (iori ka usugiri) ‘stands out’.

Again, Shunzei is blunt: ‘The Left’s “untouched by soot” (susukenu) and the Right’s “faintly misted” (usugiri) are both equally poor. The round should tie.’

Summer II: 14



kore ya kono
hitome mo shiranu
yamagatsu ni
sashi nomi mukau
yūgao no hana
Hidden from all eyes,
To the mountain man
Alone, she turns
This moonflower bloom

Lord Kanemune.


Right (Win).


shizu no o ga
kataoka shimete
sumu yado o
motenasu mono wa
yūgao no hana
The peasant
Hemmed in by hills around
His house,
Garlands it with
Moonflower blooms.



The Right grumble that ‘alone, she turns’ (sashi nomi mukau) is ‘grating on the ear’, while the Left wonder if ‘gardlands’ (motenasu) is appropriate (it’s not standard in the lexicon of poetry).

Shunzei simply says, ‘Both poems are equally lacking in faults or merits, but yet I feel the Right should win.’

Summer II: 13



katayama no
kakine no hikage
tsuyu ni zo utsuru
hana no yūgao
Facing the single mountainside
In evening sunlight upon the fence
Faintly seen,
Glistening with dew,
Is a bloom of moonflower.

A Servant Girl.


Right (Win).


orite koso
yū tsuyu ni
himo toku hana no
hikari ari to wa
Plucked, that
I might gaze upon her,
Touched with evening dew,
Her belt undoing, this blossom
Is lustrous, indeed!

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right wonder whether the Left’s poem, ‘lacks the emotional import of the topic [dai no kokoro kasuka ni ya], despite the mention of moonflowers?’ The Left counter that, ‘The Right’s poem simplistically recalls The Tale of Genji [genji no monogatari bakari o omoeru]– is this appropriate in a poetry contest [uta’awase no akashi to nasu ni, ikaga]?’

Shunzei states, ‘The Left certainly does lack the emotional import of the topic. Moreover, it does not use the expression “moonflower blossom” (yūgao no hana), but “bloom of moonflower” (hana no yūgao). This, too, is contrary to the topic [dai no mama narade] and, I have to say, an unusual choice of expression. The Right’s poem does simply refer to The Tale of Genji, but in form it cannot be said to be anything less than superb [utazama yū narazaru ni wa arazaru]. It is superior to a “bloom of moonflower”.’