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.
Neither Left nor Right has any criticisms to make this round.
Shunzei’s judgement: Although both poems seem without fault, ‘a flurry of thoughts’ (nokoru koto naki) suggests all the sorrows of autumn, but the initial part of the poem states that all the poet can hear is the snipes’ wing-beats – and nothing else – so there is a disagreement in what the poem is expressing. I do wonder about the initial line of the Left’s poem, but it should win.
The Right state, ‘There is no precedent for the addition of “fields” (tai) to “sedge-lined Fushimi” (sugawara ya fushimi). In addition, using ya at the end of both the second and third lines is grating on the ear.’ The Left merely remark, ‘“Fukakusa” is now, perhaps more commonly associated with quail.”
Shunzei’s judgement: ‘In regard to the Right’s poem, although one would really like there to be a precedent, and there are doubtless rice fields in “sedge-lined Fushimi”, I do still feel that “fields” here is a little outre, is it not? While the Left’s “sleeved lit by lonely moonlight” (sode ni tsuki moru) is superlative, I would prefer “quail” to be associated with “Fukakusa”. If snipe call for a place name, it is not Fukakusa, but Yamada, I would think. Both poems are excellent, but with faults, and for this reason the round ties.’
The Right state, ‘Though the Left’s “Do they sweep together” (kakiatsumuran) was used in older compositions, it does not sound good.’ The Left reply, ‘Why have the Right used “make speed” (isogu), when the topic of the poem is not “Travel”?’
Shuzei’s judgement: ‘The Left’s poem on “Snipe” has the lines All of autumn’s sorrows do they sweep together” (aki no aware o kakiatsumuran), and this is more redolent of hunters gathering bedding, or fisher-folk gathering seaweed for salt, however, the point about the Right’s use of “the snipe outwith my gates”, despite the topic not being “Travel”, “just as I they must make speed”, is very well made. The Left wins by a hair.’
The Right query whether it is possible to draw an association between ‘Cathay robes’ and snipe? The Left wonder about the usage of’lonely reverie as beating wings’.
Shunzei’s judgement: The criticisms from both teams are ones I have encountered before. As the poet has used ‘My sleeve – from which the snipe’ (sode yori shigi), and ‘a hut at Susono’ (susono no io), it requires the use of ‘Cathay robes’ (kara koromo) – there is no more to it than that. As for the Right, saying ‘Snipe start from the fields’ (shigi tatsu nobe) and ‘All night long in lonely reverie as beating wings time and again’ (yowa no aware mo momohagaki) – there is no fault to be found here, either. However, saying ‘My sleeve – from which the snipe’ is better. It must win.
The Right state that the Left’s poem is based on a misinterpretation of the song ‘The Spreading Moon Rises’, and this has led to the usage of ‘mat of rush’. Furthermore, in the absence of expressions such as ‘bush clover’ or ‘new grown rice’, ‘rustling’ lacks a context. The Left merely state that the initial section of the Right’s poem ‘does not sound attractive’.
Shunzei’s judgement: The gentlemen of the Right have already stated the issue with ‘rush mat’. As for ‘rustling’, I have already suggested that it was unsuitable in the earlier poem on bush clover in the topic of ‘Autumn Evenings’, and it is unfeasible to think that one could go so far as to use it in reference to ‘wing beats’. In regard to the Right’s poem, the initial line, indeed, sounds poor, and the central ‘alone but’ is also regrettable, but even so, it wins the round.