Tag Archives: tomoshibi

Winter II: 28



amata tabi
take no tomoshibi
kakagete zo
miyo no hotoke no
na oba tonaeru
Many times
The torches of bamboo
Are flourished, and
The three worlds’ Buddhas’
Names proclaimed.

Lord Suetsune.




yo no ma no yuki wa
tsumoru tomo
kōreru tsumi ya
sora ni kiyuran
There’s no light
Within this night of snowfall
Drifting, yet
My frozen sins
Do vanish into the skies…



The Gentlemen of the Right state: we must say that the Left’s poem has no faults. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we wonder about the expression ‘frozen sins’ (kōreru tsumi).

Shunzei’s judgement: saying ‘torches of bamboo’ (take no tomoshibi) in order to refer to the ‘three worlds’ Buddhas’, is a somewhat unusual expression. The Right’s ‘my frozen sins do vanish into the skies’ (kōreru tsumi ya sora ni kiyuran) seems elegant [yū ni miehaberu], but refers only to the sins vanishing, and the conception of the Buddhas’ names seems somewhat lacking. Comparing the two poems, they must tie.

Autumn I: 11

Left (Win).


hoshiai no
sora no hikari to
naru mono wa
kumoi no niwa ni
terasu tomoshibi
The stars meeting in
The sky is lit
The Palace gardens’
Shining torches.

A Servant Girl.




tanabata wa
kumo no ue yori
kumo no ue ni
kokoro o wakete
At Tanabata
Above the heavens’ clouds, and
Above the clouds on earth
Between them is the heart divided
In joy, no doubt!



The Right state that the Left’s poem has no faults. The Left, on the other hand, say, ‘The Right’s poem seems to have very little of celebration about it. In addition, the expression “Above the heavens’ clouds, and above the clouds on earth” (kumo no ue yori kumo no ue ni) seems to have reversed the proper sense.’ (‘Above the clouds’ was a standard euphemism for the palace, and by association, the Emperor. Putting him in a secondary position here was perceived as a fault.)

Shunzei’s judgement: ‘“Above the heavens’ clouds, and above the clouds on earth” can be criticised, I think, for repeating the same phrase twice. And, what might one make of it having “reversed the proper sense”? The Left’s poem is faultless. The Right’s does, indeed, lack a conception of celebration, so the Left, again, win this round.’

Autumn I: 10

Left (Win).


akigoto ni
taenu hoshiai no
sayo fukete
hikari naraburu
niwa no tomoshibi
Each and every autumn,
For the eternal meeting of the stars
Night falls, and
Lights align with
The palace garden lanterns.

Lord Sada’ie.




tsuyu fukai
niwa no tomoshibi
kazu kienu
yo ya fukenuran
hoshiai no sora
Deep dewfall
Upon the garden lanterns
Extinguished a number;
Has night fallen, I wonder,
Upon the sky wherein stars meet?



The Right have no comments to make about the Left’s poem this round, while the Left simply say the Right’s poem has ‘major faults’. (Criticising the use of the completive marker nu twice in quick succession: kienu, fukenuran.)

Shunzei ignores this point, simply saying, ‘The expression “Has night fallen, I wonder, upon the sky wherein stars meet?” (yo ya fukenuran hoshiai no sora) is splendid, but there is no reason for beginning the poem with “deep dewfall” (tsuyu fukaki). The Lefts’ poem has no faults – thus, it must win.’