The Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to indicate. The Left state: the Right’s poem is not bad.
In judgement: the Left’s ‘at Miwa had I met you’ (kimi o shi miwa no) is elegant, but the final section is lacks force. The Right’s reaping reeds at Naniwa has only a faint sense of a merchant. Thus, the Left’s ‘Miwa Market’ (miwa no ichi) wins.
Left and Right together state: we find no faults to indicate.
In judgement: although I wonder the extent to which the Left’s ‘how I envy’ (urayamashi) a mountain man resting is accurate, I also wonder whether this sort of back and forth upon the path is something which commonly appears, so the poem does not seem uninteresting. The Right’s ‘remembering deeply serves no point’ (omoi’izuru kai mo nakereba) does not sound particularly out of the ordinary. The Left wins somehow.
Left and Right together state: there is no reason to make any criticisms here.
In judgement: although ‘beckon’ (sasou) in the Left’s poem should be ‘send’ (okuru), it is certainly elegant how it evokes thoughts of Captain Cheng travelling along the valley. The Right, beginning with ‘kindling’ (mashiba) and then having ‘grief in logs’ (nageki) sounds a little too similar, I think. The Left should win.
The Right wonder about the use of ‘just as’ (koto soite). The Left merely state that the Right’s poem is ‘commonplace’ [tsune no koto nari].
Shunzei’s judgement: In the Left’s poem, should it not be ‘to the woodsmen’s kindling/add, will you?’ (shizu no tsumaki ni/soeyo to ya)? Using ‘just as’ (koto soite) does not seem a suitable expression in that it sounds somewhat pompous [yōyōshiku kikoyuru hodo]. As for the Right’s poem, ‘in winter’s chill’ (fuyu samumi) is an ordinary expression. ‘I break to stop my door, yet’ (orisasedo), too, lacks strong feeling. The final section of the Left’s poem, though, sounds pleasant [yoroshiku kokoyu]. It should win.
The Right wonder what the intention is in the Left’s poem of regretting the breakage of ‘brushwood branches’. The Left say that the Right’s poem, ‘recalls a famous poem by one of the other gentlemen of the Right.’
Shunzei’s judgement: Simply using the old-fashioned koyade in place of the more current shiishiba does not improve the sound of the poem, I think. Starting ‘Deep within the mountains’ (yama fukaku) and then continuing ‘Woodsmen break and burn’ (shizu no oritaku) – is this supposed to convey the conception of felling trees [shiba o koru kokoro ni ya]? I hardly think that if one lived in the mountains, the sound of trees being cut and burnt would make one feel the chill. The diction of ‘deep within the mountains’ does not seem appropriate [‘yama fukaku’ no kotoba, kanai mo sezaru]. Given that it does sound old-fashioned, koyade does not sound like a winner, either. The poems are of equal quality.
The Right complain that the Left’s poem ‘appears to be expressing somewhat outré sentiments’. The Left state on the other hand that the Right’s poem is ‘not bad’.
Shunzei’s judgement: the type of emotional import expressed in the Left’s poem is superlative. In The Tales of Ise, after all, there is the section on ‘gathering fallen ears of rice’ – most charming! To say that this is outré suggests a deficiency of understanding. The Right’s poem, too, conveys an emotional message. I must wonder about the use of ‘Not deep at all within’ (fukakaranu), but still, the round should tie.
Shunzei states, ‘In the Left’s poem, it might be acceptable to talk of the “fence’s hue” (kakine no iro), but “shines with the fair hues” (irowaete)is undesirable. As for the Right’s poem, the response to the “distant stranger” in the original poem contains the phrase ‘when in Spring’ (haru sareba). It is certainly not a reference to moonflowers. In Genji, the Prince sees some white blossoms, and mentions the “distant strangers”; his bodyguard hears and understands, saying, “Those are called moonflowers,” and this is no mistake, however, to refer to Genji so obliquely is poor. It does the work a disservice. Still, with the Left’s “shines with fair hues” it is difficult to determine a winner. A tie it is!”