Tag Archives: peasants

Autumn II: 16

Left (Tie).


akita moru
shizu ga iori ni
yado karan
satemo kono yo wa
suginubeki mi zo
The autumn paddies warding,
A peasant’s hut – there
Will I find lodging;
And thus, within this world
Will I be able to spend my time!

Lord Kanemune.


Right (Tie).


yamada no io mo
aki wa nao
kokoro no hate wa
Not deep at all within
The mountain paddies is this hut, yet
Autumn, still,
My heart, to the brim,
Does fill…



The Right complain that the Left’s poem ‘appears to be expressing somewhat outré sentiments’. The Left state on the other hand that the Right’s poem is ‘not bad’.

Shunzei’s judgement: the type of emotional import expressed in the Left’s poem is superlative. In The Tales of Ise, after all, there is the section on ‘gathering fallen ears of rice’ – most charming! To say that this is outré suggests a deficiency of understanding. The Right’s poem, too, conveys an emotional message. I must wonder about the use of ‘Not deep at all within’ (fukakaranu), but still, the round should tie.

Autumn II: 6

Left (Tie).


kosame furu
katsushika wase o
karu mama ni
tami no sode sae
Showers fall in
Katsushika; early ripened rice
Even the peasants’ sleeves
Are damp.



Right (Tie).


kohagi saku
katayamakage ni
higurashi no
nakisu sabitaru
murasame no sora
Bush clover blooming
In the mountain’s shade;
The sundown cicadas
Sing intermittently
To the showery skies.



Neither team has any criticisms to make.

Shunzei say, ‘The style and construction of both poems is superb, though the Left’s is particularly archaic in tone, and thus using mama ni in the central section is somewhat weak, is it not? Surely, “Whilst reaping” (karu nae ni) would have been a better fit! The Right’s simple conclusion of “showery skies” (murasame no sora) is particularly effective. However, the Left, too, with “even the peasants’ sleeves” (tami no sode sae) shows a fine spirit. The two poems are a match and tie.’

Autumn I: 27



ato mo naku
kesa wa nowaki ni
shidoro ni mieshi
sugo ga takegaki
Not a trace remains, after
This morning, when the gales
Came, of
The jumbled sight of
Peasants’ bamboo fences.

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Win).


wa ga kokoro made
nowakisuru yoru no
hana no iroiro
Even my heart
Has faded, following
A night of galing,
With the blossoms’ myriad hues…



The Right remark tersely that the Left’s poem is ‘just about “peasants’ bamboo fences” (sugo ga takegaki)’, while the Left reply, ‘and what about “galing” (nowakisuru)?’

Shunzei’s judgement is that ‘the Right’s poem is not bad in form [utazama wa ashikarazaru], but “Gales” must be composed about the wind blowing upon the many blooms on the plains, and to think that the wind would go so far as to cause damage to “peasants’ bamboo fences” is inappropriate. In the Right’s poem, “galing” does not seem a particular fault. By including “even my heart” (wa ga kokoro made) a link is formed between blossoms and emotions [kokoro ni aru ni nitarubeshi]. The Right’s poem has the essence of the topic [hon’i naru ya], does it not? It must win.’

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.’

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.’