Tag Archives: Spring Ice

Spring I: 18

Left (Tie).


ko no ma yori
hikage ya hana o
matsu no iwane no
mizu no shiranami
Between the trees,
The sunlight these blooms
Does seem to drench:
The pine-rooted crags’
White-capped waves of water.

A Servant Girl


Right (Tie).


haru kureba
kōri o harau
tanikaze no
oto ni zo tsuzuku
yamakawa no mizu
Spring is come, so
Sweeping ‘way the ice,
The wind through the valley
Brings a constant sound:
Water in the mountain streams.



Neither team have any comments to make about the other’s poem.

Shunzei comments that both poems sound ‘excellent’, but the Left’s begins ‘between the trees’ (ko no ma yori) and then continues to mention ‘pines’: are the ‘trees’ pines? Or, are they a different type? Whichever is the case, this is, perhaps, a ‘compositional error’. As for the Right’s poem, the expression, ‘sweeping ‘way the ice/The wind through the valley’ (kôri o harau/tanikaze no) is ‘charming’, but he ‘greatly dislikes’ the use of tsuzuku. (It’s unclear why he says this, as he gives no further explanation: the commentators suggest that it could be that the word is too conventional, or that it was generally considered more attractive in poetry to have something ending, rather than continuing, or simply that he didn’t like the way the poem was read out on this occasion!) Given that both poems are ‘equally excellent’ , and that the Left is ‘unclear’ over its trees, a tie has to be awarded.

Spring I: 17



yamakawa no
kōri no kusabi
ishi ni kudakuru
mizu no shiranami
The mountain stream’s
Icy wedges
Are melting;
Broken on the rocks
In white-capped waves of water.

Lord Ari’ie


Right (Win).


harukaze ni
shita yuku nami no
kazu miete
nokoru tomonaki
usukōri kana
With the breath of spring,
Flowing beneath, waves
In numbers can be seen;
Hardly any remains – just
A coating of ice.



Neither team have any comments to make about the other’s poem.

Shunzei remarks that the opening of the Left’s poem seems ‘old-fashioned’ (and hence is cliched). The conclusion is splendid, but would have been improve by the substitution of ‘crags’ (iwa) for ‘rocks’ (ishi). The Right’s poem, in the spirit of clarifying the numbers of waves of water flowing under a thin sheet of ice, ‘seems exceptional’, and so the latter poem is ‘slightly superior.’

Spring I: 16

Left (Tie).


haru kaze ni
ike no kôri ya
matarenu nami no
hana o miru kana
In the breath of spring
Will the ice upon the pond
Unanticipated blossom touched
Waves come into view…

Lord Kanemune.


Right (Tie).


uguisu no
namida no tsurara
koe nagara
tayori ni sasoe
haru no yama mizu
The bush warbler’s
Tears of ice,
And song,
Issue an invitation!
To the mountain waters this springtime…



The Right team have no comments to make about the Left’s poem this round, but the Left wonder whether the essence of the poem, of the warbler’s ‘tears of ice’ and song inviting the waters, might not be a bit much?

Shunzei remarks that the form and phrasing of the Left’s poem is ‘certainly charming’, and echoes their criticism of the Right’s poem, as having an ‘impossible essence’. He then goes on to say, ‘The Left is placidly charming; the Right’s essence must be excessive. They are equivalent and I judge this round a tie.’

Spring I: 15



oto su nari
asaji ga shita no
kōrishi hodo wa
shirarezarishi o
The sound is heard
From beneath the sparse strands of cogon grass:
Forgotten streamlets which,
When frozen,
Were all unknown.

Lord Suetsune


Right (Win).


mine no arashi ni
itsushika to
otozure kawaru
tani no shitamizu
Well accustomed to the howl
Of storm-winds round the peaks,
The sound does change:
To waters running on the valley floor.

Lord Takanobu


The Right team have no comments to make about the Left’s poem this round, but the Left wonder whether storm-winds really blow in spring?

Shunzei comments that the opening of the Left’s poem is ‘extremely charming’. As for the criticism that storm-winds do not blow in spring, it’s ‘not the case that they do not blow at all’ at that time. After the end of spring, when storm-winds become gentler and their voice fainter, is when one must have poems in the spirit of rising waters flowing through the valleys. He also feels that ‘The sound does change:/To waters running on the valley floor.’ (otozure kawaru/tani no shitamizu) is superior to the Left’s ‘When frozen,/Were all unknown.’ (kôrishi hodo wa/shirarezarishi o), and so gives the Right the victory this round.

Spring I: 14

Left (Tie).


kōri i
shimizu no shiranami

harukaze shiruki
ike no omo kana
To the iced
Clear waters waves of white
Return again;
Spring’s breezes well know
This mere’s face.

Lord Sada’ie


Right (Tie).


suwa no umi no
kōri no ue no
kayoiji wa
kesa fuku kaze ni
ato taenikeri
At the Sea of Suwa
Upon the ice
The trackways,
With the breath of wind this morning
Have left no trace at all…

The Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right team state that the concluding line of the Left’s poem, ‘this mere’s face’ (ike no omo kana) is ‘weak’. The Left team reply that the first three lines of the Right’s poem are identical to those of a poem by Minamoto no Akinaka (1064-1138), in the Hundred Poem Sequence from the Reign of Former Emperor Horikawa (a sequence composed by a number of poets between 1104-07 and presented to Horikawa):


suFa no umi no
koFori no uFe no
kayoFidi Fa
kami no watarite
tokuru narikeri
At the Sea of Suwa
Upon the ice
The trackways,
With the passage of the God
Have melted.

and that this gave the poem its idea.

Shunzei comments that ‘waters waves of white/Return again’ is a ‘well-worn’ image with nothing special about it, and the Right team have already identified the weakness of the final line, and, of course, it ‘could not be as strong as a Deva King!’ As for the Right’s poem, he accepts the point made by the Left, but as it is not well-known that even in Hundred Poem sequences there are examples which are not ‘excellent work’, it is difficult to completely avoid composing poems with conceptions that resemble them. Thus, the round has to be a tie.

Spring I: 13

Left (Win).


migiwa o wataru
harukaze ni
ike no kokoro mo
toke ya shinuran
The ice-bound
Waters’ edge a’crossing goes
The breath of spring;
Has the mere’s heart, too,





yuki tsumoru
mine ni haruhi ya
tani no ogawa no
mizu masariyuku
Upon the snow-laden
Peaks has the spring sun
For the valley streamlets are
With water overflowing…

Lord Tsune’ie


Neither team had anything deep to say about the other’s poem this round.

Shunzei states that, while both are of the same quality, the phrase ‘spring sun’ (haruhi) was not one that he liked to see used (why remains unclear, although there is speculation that it was because it was an ancient term dating from the Man’yōshū), and so the Left’s poem was just the winner.