The Right state: it sounds as if the man is enduring on the treetops. The Left state: ‘I will listen no more!’ (kikaji tada) is extremely coarse.
In judgement: while it may sound as if the man is enduring on the treetops in the Left’s poem, this is no more than a standard use of metaphorical expression, and the configuration of ‘accustomed to his being here, now, he comes not and from the treetops’ (suminareshi hito wa kozue ni) sounds fine, with the latter part of the poem also being elegant. The initial line of the Right’s poem has a conception of closing up the ears to block one’s auditory sense, which seems excessive. Clearly, the Left’s ‘my zither’s strains’ (koto no ne ni nomi) must win.
The Gentlemen of the Right state: ‘again, and yet again’ (iya’ochi) does not sound pleasant. The Gentlemen of the Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.
In judgement: the Left’s poem, having the conception of intertwined branches is pleasant, but ‘treetops at my house’ (yado no kozue) would be normal, so I wonder about ‘as the treetops, you fail to come’ (kimi ga kozue)? In the Right’s poem, although ‘among the oaks; for just a while’ (narashiba no shibashi) is commonplace, it is still more elegant than ‘again and yet again’.
The poetry competition held at the residence of Yukihira, the Minister of Popular Affairs: Left and Right prepared tableau, among other things. The tableau were in the form of rustic dwellings. Poems were composed on these in relation to cuckoo calls.
Left (Tie) – on the form of a mountain dwelling
kowe Fa sigekumo
Deep in summer
Lies this mountain hut, yet
Calls lush and thick, but
I cannot hear them!
Right – on the form of a country house
yado no kozue wa
mare ni naku kana
Gone to ruin is
This house where treetops
Are tall, yet
The mountain cuckoo
Calls there but rarely!
kesa mireba hagi ominaeshi nabikashite yasashi no nobe no kaze no keshiki ya
This morn when I look out Are the bush clovers and maidenflowers Waving Gently in the fields A vision of wind?
Lord Toshiyori 15
takamado no noji no shinohara sue sawagi sosoya akikaze kyō fukinu nari
At Shinohara in Noji,
Noisy in the treetops
Rustles the autumn wind
As it blows today.
Lord Mototoshi 16
In the Left’s poem, from the phrase ‘bush clovers and maidenflowers’ (hagi ominaeshi) and to the following ‘gently in the fields’ (yashi no nobe) seem singularly unremarkable. In fact, the diction seems so out of place as to be comic. The Right’s poem has an elevated style and charming diction, so one would think it should win, should it not?
The Gentlemen of the Left: the Right’s poem does use the comically forceful diction ‘rustles’ (sosoya).
In judgement: the Left’s ‘waving’ (nabikashite) is an expression giving the poem an extremely idiosyncratic style. The initial section also appears to be lacking in force. As for the Right’s poem, ‘rustles’ (sosoya) is used by Sone no Yoshitada in his poem ‘rustling, the autumn wind has blown’ (sosoya akikaze fukinu nari), so it is not as if there is not a prior example of usage. Thus, it seems to me that the Right’s poem is superior.
The judge, Fujiwara no Mototoshi, is mistaken here, as the poem he is remembering is by Ōe no Yoshitoki 大江嘉言 and can be found in Shikashū (III: 108). Yoshitada is the author of SKS III: 110, however, so it seems he has simply made a mistaken identification of authorship over two poems which are more or less adjacent to each other in that anthology.