Tag Archives: zither

Love IX: 12

Left (Win)
住みなれし人はこずゑに絶えはてて琴の音にのみ通ふ松風

suminareshi
hito wa kozue ni
taehatete
koto no ne ni nomi
kayou matsukaze
Accustomed to his being here,
Now, he comes not and from the treetops
All that endures
Are my zither’s strains,
Blending with the pines.

Lord Ari’ie
1103

Right
聞かじただつれなき人の琴の音にいとはず通ふ松の風をば

kikaji tada
tsurenaki hito no
koto no ne ni
itowazu kayou
matsu no kaze o ba
I will listen no more!
To that cruel man’s
Zither strains
Heedlessly blending
With the wind from off the pines…

Nobusada
1104

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.

Love IX: 11

Left (Tie)
君ゆへもかなしき琴の音は立てつ子を思ふ鶴に通ふのみかは

kimi yue mo
kanashiki koto no
ne wa tatetsu
ko o omou tsuru ni
kayou nomi ka wa
For you
In sadness has my zither
Put forth strains, so
Can a crane calling for her chick
Be the only one to cry?

A Servant Girl
1101

Right
よそになる人だにつらき琴の音に子を思ふ鶴も心知られて

yoso ni naru
hito dani tsuraki
koto no ne ni
ko o omou tsuru mo
kokoro shirarete
Strangers to me –
Even they the pain
Within my zither’s strains,
As a crane calling for her chick,
Feel in their hearts!

Ietaka
1102

Left and Right together: no faults to mention.

In judgement: both Left and Right mention ‘a crane calling for her chick’ (ko o omou tsuru). This would appear to be after the conception of the pentachord in Bai’s Works: ‘The third and fourth strings are chill, and at night a crane, loving her chick, calls from her cage.’ This is not the usual zither with seven strings, but it is certainly also a kind of zither. In the topic ‘On Zithers’ there is certainly no issue with alluding to Japanese zithers or Chinese ones, is there? In any case, neither poem seems greatly inferior or superior, so the round ties.

Love IX: 10

Left (Win)
あはれとて聞き知る人はなけれども恋しき琴の音こそ絶えせね

aware tote
kikishiru hito wa
nakeredomo
koishiki koto no
ne koso taesene
To be moved
By hearing is there
No one, yet
My beloved zither’s
Strains sound on and on…

Kenshō
1099

Right
なをざりにはかなくすさむ琴の音もまつには通ふ物とこそ聞け

naozari ni
hakanaku susamu
koto no ne mo
matsu ni wa kayou
mono to koso kike
Carelessly and
Wildly plucked
My zither’s strains
Blend with the pines
I had heard…

Lord Takanobu
1100

The Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to mention. The Left state: the Right’s poem is not bad.

In judgement: both Gentlemen’s ‘zithers’ (koto) appear to be equally elegant, and the Right has a fine final section. The Left seems pleasant in both the initial and latter sections. So, the Left wins.

Love IX: 9

Left
あはぬまは琴柱も知らずひく琴の聞きにくきまで音にや立ててむ

awanu ma wa
kotoji mo shirazu
hiku kono no
kikinikuki made
ne ni ya tatetemu
Yet untuned, and
Ignorant of where to place the bridge,
Playing such a zither is
Hard to hear, as
Are my constant sobs, perhaps…

Lord Kanemune
1097

Right (Win)
松風も琴のしらべに通ふなりわがひとり寝ぞ逢ふよしもなき

matsukaze mo
koto no shirabe ni
kayou nari
wa ga hitorine zo
au yoshi mo naki
The wind in the pines, as
Zithers’ harmony
Does blend;
Yet I am sleeping solo, with
No cause to meet at all…

Lord Tsune’ie
1098

The Right state: the Left’s poem is preposterous. The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgement: the Left’s poem seems to be aping the style of the Left in the previous round. As for the Right’s poem, although ‘zithers’ harmony’ (koto no shirabe) sounds modern, it is in a standard style. It should win.

Love IX: 8

Left
恋妻はあらぬしらべしらべの琴の緒かあふことかたき音のみ絶えせぬ

koizuma wa
aranu shirabe no
koto no o ka
au koto kataki
ne nomi taesenu
My beloved wife:
Is it that untuned are
Our zithers’ strings?
So there is no harmony, and
Only my sobs are ceaseless…

Lord Suetsune
1095

Right (Win)
松風に通ふと聞きし琴の音も物思ふ時は身にぞしみける

matsukaze ni
kayou to kikishi
koto no ne mo
mono’omou toki wa
mi ni zo shimikeru
The wind in the pines
Resembles, I had heard,
A zither’s strains that, too,
When sunk in gloomy thought
Dye one so deeply…

Jakuren
1096

The Right state: saying ‘our zithers’ strings?’ (koto no o ka) is unsatisfactory. The Left state: if one is not depressed, would one not be deeply affected?

In judgement: the Left certainly sounds as if something is out of tune! The Right’s poem says that on hearing the wind pass through the pine trees, one would be affected. It sounds by no means distant from the topic. Thus, the Right wins.

Love IX: 7

Left (Tie)
昔聞く君が手馴れの琴ならば夢に知られて音をも立てまし

mukashi kiku
kimi ga tenare no
koto naraba
yume ni shirarete
ne o mo tatemashi
Long ago, I heard
Your favourite
Zither play – if that were me, then
In your dreams I would be known, and
Make a sound most sweet within your sleep…

Lord Sada’ie
1093

Right
わぎも子が心のひかぬ琴の音は我まつにこそ通はざりけれ

wagimoko ga
kokoro no hikanu
koto no ne wa
wa ga matsu ni koso
kayowazarikere
My darling’s
Heartstrings are not tugged
By my zither’s strains, so
Though I pine for her
‘Tis of no use at all…

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress’ Household Office
1094

The Right state: the Left’s poem gives the impression of being based on something – but what? The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.

In judgement: there is nothing unusual about the Left’s poem. It simply seems to be in the conception of the Man’yōshū poem where, ‘a Japanese zither made from the wood of the parasol tree transforms into a maiden in a dream, and says “When will / The day come that / I shall sing / Making his lap / My pillow?”’ I also have the feeling that it is alluding to the subsequent poem, however. So, it is certainly not the case that it is not based on anything. The Right’s poem has ‘heartstrings are not tugged’ (kokoro no hikanu) and then the metaphorical ‘though I pine for her’ (wa ga matsu ni koso), so is certainly not lacking in conception either. They are equivalent and tie.

SIS VIII: 451

On a night when the Ise Vestal was conducting the Kōshin rite at the shrine in the fields, she composed this on the topic of the wind in the pines sounding a zither’s strings when blowing at night.

ことのねに峯の松風かよふらしいづれのをよりしらべそめけん

koto no ne ni
mine no matukaze
kayoFurasi
idure no wo yori
sirabe someken
The zither’s strains
With wind from pines atop the peak
Do sound;
Which string is it
That may start me on my way?

The Ise Vestal Consort 斎宮女御
[Princess Yoshiko/Kishi 徽子女王] (929-985)

MYS V: 811

So, I composed in reply to her.

言とはぬ木にはありともうるはしき君が手馴れの琴にしあるべし

koto topanu
ki ni pa aritomo
urupasiki
kimi ga tanare no
koto ni siarubesi
No speech
Has a tree, yet
A glorious
Lord’s favourite
Zither will you certainly be!

The zither maid replied, ‘I thank you for your kind words. I am truly and humbly grateful.’ I swiftly awoke and moved by the words of the maiden in my dream, I could not remain silent, so I entrusted this zither to an official bound your way, that he might deliver it to you.

Sent by messenger on the 7th day of the Tenth Month Tenpyō 1 [645], to his Most Glorious Excellency of the Inner Palace Guards.

MYS V: 810

Poems respectfully presented by Ōtomo no Tabito, to accompany a Japanese zither made from wood taken from the top of a parasol tree growing on Yuishi in Tsushima:

I dreamed this zither transformed into a maiden who said to me, ‘I placed my roots in the care of the sacrd heights of a distant island; my trunk was dried by the peaceful light of the ninefold sun. Ever was I enveloped by the smoky haze drifting from the mountain streams, and beheld from afar the winds and the waves, finding myself between a tree and a goose. Yet, after a hundred years, I was afraid I would simply be left to rot away in a moat or a ditch somewhere, but by good fortune I met a talented craftsman, who shaped my wood into this meagre zither. My form may be coarse, and my sound grating, but I hope that I may rest, as my Lord’s zither, at his left hand.’ Then, she composed.

いかにあらむ日の時にかも声知らむ人の膝の上我が枕かむ

ika ni aramu
pi no toki ni kamo
kowe siramu
pito no piza no pe
wa ga makurakamu
When will
The day come that
I shall sing
With his lap
For my pillow?