Tag Archives: shiba

Winter II: 10

Left (Win).


suzu no karine ni
shimo saete
matsukaze hayashi
fukenu kono yo wa
Upon Mt Yoshino,
In fitful sleep upon a bed of bamboo,
The frost falls chill, indeed, and
The wind gusts through the pines,
With the fall of night.





shiba no amido wa
kaze sugite
arare yokogiru
matsu no oto kana
On the mountains’ edge
My woven brushwood door
Is pierced by the wind;
Hearing hail blown horizontal
Against the pines…



Both Left and Right are exaggerated in their insistence that the other’s poem lacks any faults.

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s ‘Upon Mt Yoshino, in fitful sleep upon a bed of bamboo’ (yoshinoyama suzu no karine ni) would seem to suggest an ascetic who, having travelled into the mountains, has made himself a hut from bamboo and pillowed upon the tree roots, would it not? But here he seems to have simply cut them down, spread them out and lain upon them! In addition, ‘The wind gusts through the pines’ (matsukaze hayashi) fails to sound elegant [yū ni shi kikoezaru]. The Right, by starting with ‘On the mountains’ edge’ (toyamanaru), suggests that the poet is speaking of his own dwelling’s door in the mountains. ‘Hearing hail blown horizontal against the pines’ (arare yokogiru matsu no oto) also just does not sound appropriate. Both poems have an exaggerated feeling [kotogotoshikaran to wa kokorozashite], and I cannot grasp who they are referring to. However, the Left’s poem is, still, somewhat superior.

Autumn I: 29



kinō made
yomogi ni tojishi
shiba no to mo
nowaki ni haruru
oka no be no sato
Until yesterday
Sealed by mugwort was
This brushwood door;
Swept clear by the gale
The hills around my dwelling.

A Servant Girl.




kari ni sasu
iori made koso
nowaki ni taenu
ono no shinohara
Roughly thatched,
Even my hut
Has blown away:
Unable to endure the gales
Amongst the arrow bamboo groves…



Both teams say they can appreciate the sentiment of the opposing team’s poem.

Shunzei agrees: ‘Both the Left’s “hills around my dwelling” (oka no be no sato) and the Right’s “arrow bamboo groves” (ono no shinohara) are charming. “Sealed by mugwort was this brushwood door; swept clear by the gale” (yomogi ni tojishi shiba no to mo nowaki ni haruru) and “Even my hut has blown away: unable to endure the gales” (iori made koso nabikikere nowaki ni taenu) have no failings in form between them. Thus, the round ties.’

Spring II: 7



tatsu kiji no
naruru nohara mo
ko o omou michi ya
haru madouran
The flying pheasants
Know these fields so well, yet
The fond way to their fledglings
Does it sink springtime in confusion…?

Lord Sada’ie


Right (Win).


kigisu no yado o
susono no hara no
shiba no shitagusa
The crying, flying
Pheasants’ lodging
Should you seek out, look
In meadows on the mountains’ skirts
Among the brushwood undergrowth…



The Right team wonder whether ‘know a field well’ (hara ni naruru) isn’t a bit ‘modern’ for poetry. Furthermore, ‘sink springtime in confusion’ (haru madouran) ‘seems to be missing something’ (by this they probably mean that you would expect the expression to be haru ni madouran, with the grammatical structure more clearly expressed). The Left team respond that the first line of the Right’s poem ‘grates on the ear’ and wonder, ‘What one is to make of “pheasants’ lodgings” (kigisu no yado)?’, meaning that traditional poetic expression called for ‘warblers’ lodgings’ (uguisu no yado).

Shunzei rather harshly says that the Left’s poem is ‘poorly constructed and unacceptable in both spirit and diction,’ wondering whether there was ‘a single school which would not find fault with it on the grounds of both logic and poetic form’? It would be possible to say ‘flying pheasants’ springtime confusion’ (tatsu kigisu no haru madou), and this would ‘not require any criticism’, just as ‘crying, flying pheasants’ lodging’ does not. Furthermore, the Right’s final stanza, ‘Among the brushwood undergrowth’ (shiba no shitagusa) is ‘particularly pleasant’ and so the Right’s poem must be awarded the victory.

Spring I: 9

Left (Win).


shigaraki no
toyama wa yuki mo
kienishi o
fuyu o nokosu ya
tani no yūkaze
From Shigaraki’s
Mountains, the snow
Has gone, yet
Does winter remain in
The valleys’ evening breeze?





haru kaze wa
fuku to kikedomo
shiba no ya wa
nao samushiro ni
i koso nerarene
The spring breeze
Blows, I hear, yet
My twig-roofed hut is
Yet chill: beneath a threadbare blanket
I cannot fall asleep.

Lord Tsune’ie


Shunzei states the first part of the Left’s poem is ‘elevated in tone’, but that the final line is problematic: a reference to ‘morning’ might have been better, or just to the ‘valleys’ breeze’, but this would not have fitted the syllable count. If the intention had been to add a sense of ‘darkness’ to the poem, an expression such as ‘the valleys, shadowed by the crags’ would have been better. As for the Right’s poem, the image of the ‘twig-roofed hut’ is lonely, but the overlaying of the ‘cold’ with ‘blanket’ (in the original poem ‘samushiro’ is a play-on-words with both senses) is pedestrian, and so the Left’s poem, despite its faults, is adjudged the winner.

Winter 43

Left (Win).


asa yū no
oto wa shigure no
narashiba ni
itsu furikawaru
arare naruran
Morn and night
The sound of rain upon
Oaken boughs;
When, I wonder, did it change
To hail?




arare furi
shizu ga sasaya no
soyo sara ni
hito yo bakari no
yume o ya wa miru
Hailstones fall
Upon my mean bamboo roof;
Will I, at least,
Briefly this night
Catch a glimpse of dreams?