Tag Archives: sawa

Love IV: 9


sora harete
yama no ha izuru
hikage ni mo
kawaki mo yaranu
sode no ue kana
The sky clears and
From the mountains’ edge appears
The sunlight, yet
It cannot even dry
The surface of my sleeves…

Lord Ari’ie.

Right (Win).

sawa ni idete
asana tsumu
tomo oboenu
ayashiki hodo ni
nururu sode kana
Going out to the marshes and
Gathering greens for breakfast –
I cannot recall at all;
How strange it is that
My sleeves are then so drenched…

Lord Tsune’ie.

The Right state: we find no faults to mention in the Left’s poem. The Left state: recalling gathering greens for breakfast is something one can do in the afternoon or the evening. In addition, ‘I cannot recall’ (oboenu) is prosaic in content.

In judgement: the Left’s poem simply says that the sunlight is unable to dry one’s sleeves, and contains little conception of love. The Right’s ‘sleeves’ sound as if they have been most extraordinarily drenched, so the Right should win.

Autumn II: 24

Left (Win).


nami yosuru
sawa no ashibe o
kaze ni tatsunari
shigi no hanegaki
A wave beats on
The marshy reed beds;
Roost broken, sorrowfully
Starting up into the breeze
The snipe work their wings.

A Servant Girl.




akenu tote
sawa tatsu shigi no
hito koe wa
hane kaku yori mo
aware narikeri
Crying that there’s no dawn yet,
Starting from the marsh, a snipe’s
Single call,
More that his beating wings
Summons sadness…



The Right wonder, ‘if it wouldn’t be rather difficult for a lightly beat its wings on taking off into the wind, as in the Left’s poem?’ The Left respond with, ‘In the Right’s poem, the accustomed reference to the sound of the snipe’s wings, seems subordinated to its cry. Is that right?’

Shunzei’s judgement: A snipe’s wing-beats on taking off into a strong wind are not that vigorous. ‘The snipe work their wings’ (shigi no hanegaki) is what they do, whether gently or not. However, this poem has more of a feeling of reed-bed dwelling birds like cranes, or plovers. In the Right’s poem, it’s not clear what kind of snipe it is ‘starting from the marsh’. The Left’s ‘reed-bed snipe’ should win.

Autumn I: 17

Left (Win).


hakanashi ya
aretaru yado no
utatane ni
inazuma kayou
tamakura no tsuyu
How brief it was!
In a ruined dwelling
Dozing, when
Lightning crossed
The dewdrops on my pillowing arm…

A Servant Girl.




sawa no hotaru wa
kage kiete
taedae yadoru
yoi no inazuma
All together have
The fireflies above the marsh
Lost their light;
Briefly remaining,
Lightning at the dusk…



The Right state that they have no criticisms of the Left’s poem. The Left wonder about the suitability of fireflies disappearing in the autumn.

Shunzei feels, ‘The Left’s poem is certainly charming in form and expression, but more thought should have been given to the initial phrase “How brief it was!” (hakanashi ya). The Right’s poem, too, is charming, and as for fireflies being a topic for summer poetry alone, in autumn it is acceptable to compose on the failing of their light, is it not? Did not Anjin compose “Fireflies flashing on the palace stairs and gates/Crickets crying from the eaves and tiles”? There is also the example from the Collection of Songs to Sing Aloud of “Seeking cuckoo calls in the dawntime clouds/Innumerable fireflies flit among the autumn grasses”. Still, the Left’s “dewdrops on my pillowing arm” wins, I think.’