uramikane sayo no koromo o hito shirezu omoikaesedo nagusamanu kana Unable to despise you, On this brief night, my robe, Unknown to all, I did reverse in constant thought of you, but It brought me no comfort, at all!
Kii, from the Ichijō Palace
hitasura ni sayo no koromo ni kotoyosete uranaki hito o uramizaranan Truly, On this brief night, your robe Is but a pretext— An unfeeling lady I would not despise!
The Governor of Mimasaka
haru no tatsu kasumi no koromo ura mo naku toshi o hete koso hana no chirikere Spring does sew A robe of haze Without an underlay, The year passes by in A scattering of blossom
haru no no no yuki ma o wakete itsushika to kimi ga tame to zo wakana tsumitsuru Across the springtime meadows Do I forge between the snows, Eagerly, so eagerly, For you, my Lord, Have I gathered fresh herbs!
harugasumi kasumi kometaru yamazato wa kōri toku tomo kage wa mieji o The haze of spring Blurs all around A mountain retreat, Even were the ice to melt I could see no sign of it!
ume ga e ni ki’iru uguisu toshigoto ni hana no nioi o akanu koesuru Upon the plum tree’s branches Has come to rest the warbler; Every single year, that Of the blossoms’ scent He cannot get his fill he sings.
sakurairo ni hana saku ame wa furinu tomo chishio zo somete utsurou na sode Cherry-coloured Blossoms flower, as the rain Falls on, yet Dyed a thousand times Fade not, o, my sleeves!
aoyagi no ito harubaru to midori naru yukusue made mo omoi koso yare The willow’s Branches dangle lengthily So green Right to the very end Will I fondly think of you.
Sages’ Dwellings 仙宮
tachinuwanu koromo no sode shi furekereba michitose hete zo momo mo narikeru Neither woven nor sewn are This robe’s sleeves, but When they wave Three thousand years go by Among the peaches.
Coming of Age 元服
motoyui no kozome no ito o kurikaeshi koromo no iro ni hiki ya utsusan A topknot’s Deeply dyed scarlet cords Winding back and forth – In the shade of your robe, I wonder, will they be reflected?
yashio no koromo
nado anagachi ni
tsuraki kokoro zo Deepest indigo
Dipped many times, my robe’s
Hue is dark, indeed;
Why, with such heartless
Cruelty am I treated…
utsurishi iro wa
kokoro zo fukaki
shinobu mojizuri My robe’s
Hues have shifted;
Faithless is she, yet
My heart’s depths
Are stained with fern-patterned longing…
The Right state: we wonder whether ‘deepest indigo dipped many times’ (
kara’ai no yashio) should not be scarlet. How dark would the colour be then? In response: there is no possibility of interpreting this as scarlet. We have used deep indigo, so what is there to criticise in then using dark? The Left state: while we understand the conception of the poem, we feel the expression is somewhat lacking. ‘My heart’s depths are stained with secret longing’ ( kokoro zo fukaki shinobu mojizuri) does not link well with the initial part of the poem.
In judgement: the Left’s initial ‘deepest indigo’ (
kara’ai) certainly sounds elegant, and there is no reason to make it scarlet. I also see no reason to fault the use of dark, either. As for the Right, it does not sound as if ‘stained with fern-patterned longing’ ( shinobu mojizuri) links with the remainder of the poem – from the beginning to ‘my heart’s depths’ ( kokoro zo fukaki). The final ‘stained with fern-patterned longing’ seems to appear abruptly. Deepest indigo should win.
hito o zo sara ni
ause o shiranu
mi o uramitemo How cruel
She is, I ever feel,
My thoughts a river;
No rushed meetings between us –
I hate myself for that, and yet…
hodo to zo kikishi
katashiku sode no
na koso arikere Far, far away
Lies, I have heard,
The River Robe:
For my single spread sleeve
How apt that name is!
The Right state: we find the Left’s poem unconvincing. The Left state: the Right’s poem lacks any faults.
In judgement: in the Left’s poem, ‘my thoughts a river’ (
omoigawa) is certainly not unconvincing. The latter section of the Right’s poem sounds fine. It should win.
omoide wa kokoro bakari ni kayowashite koromo no kubi ni koto na morashi so My feelings Simply through my heart I send back and forth; On the collar of my robe O, let nothing leak out!
Minamoto no Nakazane