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Teiji-in uta’awase 28

Left (Tie)


hito no ue to
omoishi mono o
wa ga koi ni
nashite ya kimi ga
tada ni ya minuru
Upon me
The coals of passion have lain, yet
After my love has been
So clear, why, my lady
Do you seem so calm?




ashi mayou
naniwa no ura ni
hiku fune no
tsunade nagaku mo
koi wataru kana
Lost among the reeds
Of Naniwa Bay,
Pulling a boat with
Tug-ropes stretching long
As my love endures!


MYS I: 64

When he visited the Naniwa Palace in Kyōun 3 [706]

葦邊行 鴨之羽我比尓 霜零而 寒暮夕 和之所念


asibe yuku
kamo no pagapi ni
simo purite
samuki yupube pa
yamato si omopoyu
Huddled in the reeds
Upon the ducks’ folded wings
Frost falls and
In the evening’s cold
My thoughts dwell upon Yamato.

Prince Shiki

Love X: 1


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


Right (Win)

nami no ue ni
kudaru o fune no
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

A woman wearing a kimono sits in a small boat with her back to the viewer. The boat is on a still river, with mist rolling in gradually obscuring the reflection of the woman and boat. It is night, with a clear sky and full moon shining down from above.
Created with Adobe Firefly.
A kuzushiji version of the poem's text.
Create with Soan.

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.

MYS II: 128

A futher poem sent by the Elder Maiden of Ishikawa to  Ōtomo no Tanushi.


wa ga kikisi
mimi ni yoku niru
asi no ure no
asi yamu wa ga se
As I have heard
So it does seem to be:
As the reed tips
Pierce your legs, my darling,
Get well soon!

The above poem was presented by the Elder Maiden of Ishikawa to Chūrō, when she visited him on hearing that his legs were troubling him.


Composed to accompany a painting of the few remains of the bridge at Naraga on a folding screen for His Majesty, during the Tenryaku era.


asima yori
miyuru nagara no
mukasi no ato no
sirube narikeri
From between the reeds
Can one see at Nagara
The bridge pillars:
A trace from long ago
To guide us now…

Fujiwara no Kiyotada

Love I: 24

Left (Win).


wasurezu yo
honobono hito o
mishimae no
tasogare narishi
ashi no mayoi ni
Never will I forget you
Who I glimpsed faintly
In the dusk of Mishima Bay
A single reed
Causes confusion.

A Servant Girl.




hana no iro ni
utsuru kokoro wa
kasumi no ma yori
A blossom’s hue
Has caught my heart;
A mountain cherry
Through the parted mists
Has set me on the path of love.

Lord Takanobu.


The Gentlemen of the Right state: saying simply ‘dusk’ (tasogare) when it should be ‘the hour of dusk’ (tasogare toki) sounds somewhat strange. The Gentlemen of the Left state: the Right’s poem is composed to recall the Kokinshū’s ‘A mountain cherry through the drifting mists’ (yamazakura kasumi no ma yori), but is inferior to the original.

Shunzei’s judgement: in regard to the Left’s poem, it is certainly the case that, even without the ‘hour’, ‘in the dusk’ is a standard expression. The Right’s poem sounds old-fashioned. The Left, though, does not sound unpleasant, even though its mentioning of ‘never will I forget’ (wasurezu yo) recollects ‘a tiled kiln’. It should win.