Tag Archives: sakazuki

Autumn III: 15



kyō to ieba
yagate magaki no
shiragiku zo
tazuneshi hito no
sode to miekeru
On this day
At last, along my lattice fence
White chrysanthemums:
Seeming like the sleeves of
One who came to call…

Lord Kanemune.




sakazuki ni
ukaberu kyō no
kage yori ya
shiragiku no hana
In my wine cup
Floating on this day:
Does the moonlight
Bring on changing hues
For white chrysanthemum blooms?



The Right say that having the phrase ‘at last, along my lattice fence’ (yagate magaki no) continuing one from the other is ‘unsatisfactory’ [kokoroyukazu]. The Left say that the Right’s phrasing sounds as if the change in colour is brought about by the blossom floating in the wine cup, rather than the moonlight, and query if this is appropriate.

Shunzei’s judgement: Is the Left’s ‘at last, along my lattice fence’ that poor [ashiku ya wa]? Furthermore, the Right’s poem simply means ‘when floating in the wine cup’ the colours ‘change’. Neither poem has any conspicuous faults [tomo ni toganaku kikoyu]. The round should tie.

Spring III: 18

Left (Win).


momo no hana
eda sashikawasu
kage nareba
nami ni makasen
kyō no sakazuki
Peach blossoms
Thrust from the bough
Spreading shade, so
To the waves I shall entrust
My wine-cup today.

Lord Kanemune.




sakazuki no
nagare totomo ni
kyō no hana fuku
haru no yamakaze
With the wine-cups’
Scent seems to come:
Blowing through the blossoms today is
The mountains’ breath of spring.



The Right state that it is ‘difficult to find any imperfections in the Left’s poem,’ while the Left say that the Right’s ‘blowing through the blossoms’ (hana fuku) is ‘grating on the ear.’ (They probably make this comment because hana fuku sounded too close to the verb hanafuku which had the rather prosaic meaning of ‘sneeze’!)

Shunzei’s judgement is, ‘The Left have stated that the Right’s hana fuku grates on the ear, but it would seem to be following the spirit of the lines:

Gently blows the breeze in early dawn;
A mouth starts to smile.

However, as has been said, there are no imperfections in the Left’s poem, as so it should win.’ (According to the commentators, ‘a wordless mouth’ was a metaphor used for blossom, although the source of the lines Shunzei quotes is now obscure.)

Spring III: 17

Left (Win).


chiru hana o
kyō no matoi no
hikari nite
namima ni meguru
haru no sakazuki
Falling blossoms
To the gathering today
Add lustre,
Circling between the waves go
The wine-cups of spring.

A Servant Girl.




iwama yori
nagarete kudasu
sakazuki ni
hana no iro sae
ukabu kyō kana
From the rock-clefts
Float down
Cups of wine –
Even the blossoms’ hues
Seem adrift upon them, today…

Lord Takanobu.


The Right team state that the Left’s poem, ‘seems good,’ while the Left state that the Right’s combination of nagarete (‘flow’) and kudasu (‘send down’) is ‘inharmonious and would be better reversed.’ (In his poem, Takanobu has combined an intransitive verb nagaru with a transitive one, kudasu, and the Left are complaining that it’s odd to have something flowing (on its own) and then being sent down (by someone), so it would have been better phrased as kudashite nagaru, ‘sent down and then flowed’.)

Shunzei comments that, ‘Both poems have superlative elements. The Right’s nagaretekudasu is not entirely inharmonious, but the Left’s “circling between the waves go the wine-cups of spring” is particularly fine. Thus, I award it victory.’

Spring III: 16

Left (Tie).


iwama o kudaru
sakazuki wa
sashite tare ni to
miezu mo aru kana
Drifting down
Through the rock clefts, come
The winecups,
Proffered by no one,
Or so it seems…

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Tie).


iwama wake
nagare mo yaranu
sakaduki wa
Through the rock clefts
Unable to flow are
The winecups:
I would offer one, yet
‘Tis no use, at all.

Lord Tsune’ie.


Yet again, neither team has anything to say about the other’s poem.

Shunzei says, ‘Both Left and Right have composed on “rock cleft wine cups”, with a concept of “proffered to someone” (sashite tare ni) or “I would proffer, yet” (kokorozasedomo): these are truly identical in quality. The round must tie.’

Spring III: 15



kyō to ieba
iwama ni yodomu
sakazuki o
matanu sora made
hana ni youran
Talking of today,
Caught in clefts between the rocks, yet
The wine cups’
Not awaiting, even the skies seem
Drunk on blossom.

Lord Ari’ie.


Right (Win).


hana no iro wa
irihi o nokosu
ki no moto ni
haru mo kureyuki
mika tsuki no sora
The blossoms’ hues
Have caught the setting sun, while
Beneath the trees
Springtime dusk draws on,
A crescent moon within the sky.



Both teams have no particular comments to make about the other’s poem.

Shunzei remarks, ‘Both poems are of similar quality, as has been mentioned by the gentlemen present, however, the Left’s poem is clearly in the spirit of “With blossom the heavens are drunk, in the season of plentiful peaches.” (A well known Chinese poem composed by Sugawara no Michzane.) But the Right’s “Springtime dusk draws on, a crescent moon” captures the light better, I think. Thus, it seems to be the winner.’

Spring III: 14

Left (Win).


karahito no
ato o tsutauru
sakazuki no
nami ni shitagau
kyō mo kininkeri
How Cathay folk
Did long ago, ‘tis told;
With wine cups,
Trailing ‘long the waves
Has this day come.

Lord Sada’ie.




shizu ga kokoro wa
momo no hana
yayoi no kyō zo
‘Twas planted, long ago, and now
The peasants’ hearts,
Peach blossom
On this Third Month day
Must see.



Both teams say they have no criticisms, as before.

Shunzei, however, says, ‘The Left’s poem, as in the last round, draws on an ancient example of the Waterside Poetry Party. The Right’s, “The peasants’ hearts, on this Third Month day must see”, however, is extremely difficult to grasp, and certainly prosaic, is it not? The Left must win.’

Spring III: 13

Left (Tie).


sakazuki no
nagare ni tsukete
karahito no
fune norisu naru
kyō o shi zo omou
As the wine cups
Cathay folk,
Boarding boats
This day, comes to my mind.



Right (Tie).


yuku mizu ni
ukaburu hana no
sakazuki ya
nagarete no yo no
tameshi naruran
Upon the flowing waters
Floating flowers of
Wine cups!
In times gone by,
Was there ever such a thing?

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


Both Left and Right say they have no criticisms to make this round.

Shunzei says, ‘The Left’s poem recalls an ancient Chinese festival, while the Right’s mentions one from our own Court. In terms style and form, neither poem has any particular problems. The round must tie.’

Spring I: 5

Left (Tie).


mutsuki tatsu
kyô no matoi ya
momoshiki no
toyo no akari no
On the year’s turn
Today, with a congenial gathering
At the hundredfold palace,
Do the banquets – rubicund faces all –
Perhaps, begin?



Right (Tie).


momoshiki ya
sode o tsuranuru
sakazuki ni
ei o susumuru
haru no hatsukaze
At the hundredfold palace,
Arrayed sleeves and
Wine cups are
Pressed to a pleasant drunkenness by
The first breeze of spring.




The Right state that ‘on the year’s turn’ (mutsuki tatsu) is an expression they ‘are not accustomed to hearing’ [kikinarezu oboyu]. The Left, in response, say that this expression occurs in the Man’yōshū. The Right then state that ‘rubicund faces all’ (toyo no akari) is unclear. The Left reply that the various Imperial seasonal banquets are referred to as such in Imperial proclamations. The Left have no criticisms of the Right’s poem.

Shunzei’s judgement: The gentlemen of the Right have stated that mutsuki tatsu is something particularly worthy of criticism, but I do not feel this to be the case at all [makoto ni oboehaberazu]. I definitely recall seeing poems containing mutsuki tatsu in the Man’yōshū. However, even if something occurs in the Man’yōshū, I do not feel either Left or Right should cite it in support [sayū naku shōko to subeshi to mo oboehaberazu]. Someone now dead once told me that we should pick the tasteful sections of the Man’yōshū [man’yōshū wa yūnaru koto o toru beki]. Meaning that in that anthology there are many poems which sound unpleasant [kikinikuki], such as ‘Dig it from Lord Yamada’s nose!‘ and ‘Drinking wine, weeping drunkenly‘ which it would be difficult to select now. To the time of that anthology, they did not avoid poetic faults [uta no yamai]. Therefore, such poems should definitely not be used as sources for poetry competitions [kanarazushimo uta’awase no toki wa rei to nasubekarazaru]. This is not the case with the poem in question, but it needs to be said. Moreover, in Imperial Proclamations,toyo no akari (豊明) appears to be written 豊楽. Both Left and Right have already given their opinions on the poem’s overall conception [fūtei]. In terms of its sense, in one area alone is it surprising: instead of ‘custom’ (narai wa) which is normal in poetry in these situations, it uses ‘congenial gathering’ (matoi), which evokes the plucking of a catalpa bow; when one uses toyo no akari, one would normally then continue with expressions such as “cloudless world” (kumori naki yo ). In the present poem, however, there is nothing for it to connect to. The Right’s poem simply concludes ‘first breeze of spring’ (haru no hatsukaze), and while one can hear the New Year in this, the scenery of ‘Pressed to a pleasant drunkenness’ (ei o susumuru) is more that of the Twisting Waters banquet (gokusui no en) or of composition on ‘peach blossom skies‘. In sum, then, the poem fails to sound elegant in style [uta no tei mo yū ni shi mo kikoehaberazarubeshi]. The Left’s matoi, too, has no links within the poem. Neither is worthy of a win I feel. Thus, this round is, again, a tie.