Tag Archives: seri

Winter I: 30

Left (Win).


serikawa no
nami mo mukashi ni
miyuki taesenu
saga no yama’arashi
Seri River’s
Waves, too, in ancient times,
Would rise and fall;
A Progress as endless as
The storm winds on Mount Saga.

A Servant Girl.




miyuki seshi
nobe no furumichi
ato taesenu wa
serikawa no mizu
A progress passed
Across the plain’s old trails,
Well trod,
The traces will endure
As do the waters of Seri River…

Lord Takanobu.


Neither team finds any fault this round.

Shunzei’s judgement: Both poems have the conception [kokoro] of ‘Seri River’ (serikawa) and ‘endless Progress’ (miyuki taesenu), and there is not much between them in terms of winning or losing, but the Left’s ‘storm winds on Mount Saga’ (saga no yama’arashi) seems to blow a bit more strongly today!

Winter I: 29

Left (Tie).


inishie no
nagare o ukuru
mikari kana
sono serikawa no
ni makasete
In days long gone,
Flowed by here
His Majesty’s hunting party;
At the River Seri,
Traces, tell the tale…

Lord Suetsune.




inishie no
nomori no kagami
kyō mireba
miyuki o utsusu
kōri narikeri
That long ago
Falconer’s mirror
When I look on it today,
Reflecting the progress is
A sheet of ice.



The Right find no fault with the Left’s poem. The Left wonder whether ice is able to reflect anything, and what the purpose of using the term is.

Shunzei’s judgement: Both poems are elegant [yū], starting with ‘In days long gone, flowed by here’ (inishie no nagare o ukuru) and ‘That long ago falconer’s mirror: when I look on it today’ (inishie no nomori no kagami kyō mireba) respectively, but the use of ‘the’ (sono) in the Left’s ‘the River Seri’ (sono serikawa) is poor [ika ni zo kikoyu]. The Right’s ‘ice’ (kōri) really does seem somewhat unsuitable. Thus, it is impossible to pick either as the winner.

Spring I: 19

Left (Tie).


nawa tatsu koma o
ika ni shite
nobe no hatsugusa
Seeming driven wild and
Tether snapping is my steed:
How might
He be tied,
By the fresh grasses on the plain?



Right (Tie).


kesa mireba
sawa no wakazeri
shitane toke
midori ni hayuru
yuki no mura kie
Looking this morning on
The fresh dropwort by the marsh,
Melting round the roots –
So greenly growing –
Snow spots were vanishing.

Lord Takanobu


The Right team comment here that the Left’s poem is in the same spirit as Shun’e’s poem in the Shikashū (SKS I: 12). Into this has been inserted the additional idea of ‘tether snapping’ (nawa tatsu), and this is ‘grating on the ear’.

The Left team, in turn, say that the Right’s poem contains both ‘melting’ (toke) and ‘vanishing’ (kie) and this is an error. (Japanese poetics held that a poem should not contain two words with identical meanings.) It is also ‘undesirable’ to use ‘growing’ (hayuru).

Shunzei comments that the Right team have correctly identified the resemblance of the Left’s poem to that by the Monk Shun’e, and in such poems, it is commonplace not to avoid this. However, as in Taira no Sadafun’s poem in the Shūishū (SIS XVIII: 1185). ‘Tether snapping’ (nawa tatsu) is used of approaching a woman. (Nawa tatsu 縄絶つ ‘tether snapping’ is homophonous with na wa tatsu 名は立つ ‘one’s name would arise (in conversation)’ – in other words, ‘be gossiped about’.) Here, though, it is simply used about breaking a rope, or cord, and ‘is this not mundane?’ The Right’s poem starts ‘very well’, but to use ‘growing’ (hayuru) is ‘not good at all’. Both poems are ‘commonplace’ and so neither deserves a win.

Sanekata Shū 183

When Lady Saishō from the Sen’yōden had returned to her estate, I called but got the impression that she already had company; returning home, I sent this to her using a woman I had come across washing water-celery in the Nakagawa River.


nakagaFa ni
susuku taseri no
netaki koto
araFarete koso
In Nakagawa
Rinsing water-celery
Roots – green-eyed;
That another had appeared,
You should have said plainly.

GSS XV: 1075

On the day the Emperor [Kōkō (830-887; r. 884-887)] in the Ninna period (885-889), following the example set in the reign of the Emperor Saga (786-842; r. 809-823), made an excursion to the River Seri.


saga no yama
miyuki taenisi
seri kaFa no
tiyo no furu miti
ato Fa arikeri
His Majesty, Saga’s mountain
Excursion is long done, yet
By the river Seri
For a thousand generations will the ancient ways
Leave their mark.

Ariwara no Yukihira (818-893)