Tag Archives: zithers

Autumn I: 12

Left (Win).


hoshiai no sora no
shirushi tote
aki no shirabe ni
kotoji tatsu nari
The stars meet within the heavens
Signified by
The rhythms of autumn
Sounding ‘cross the zithers’ bridge.





tanabata no
au yo no niwa ni
oku koto no
atari ni hiku wa
sasagani no ito
At Tanabata,
On the night of meeting, in the garden
Are the zithers placed;
All around for plucking are
Strands of spiders’ webs.



The Right say, ‘“Set” (sadameoku) just does not sound very good.’ The Left: ‘ “Spiders” (sasagani no) seems to appear rather abruptly in the poem.’

Shunzei: ‘“Spiders’ webs” (sasagani no ito) would seem to be being used to evoke the playing of the zithers. Is “set” really all that bad in form? The Left’s “rhythms of autumn” (aki no shirabe) gets the victory.’

Autumn I: 9

Left (Tie).


tanabata wa
kyō kasu koto wa
nani narade
au ni nomi koso
kokoro hikurame
For the Weaver Maid
That this day the zithers play
Means nothing;
‘Tis her meeting, alone,
That plucks upon her heart.

Lord Ari’ie.


Right (Tie).


takimono no
nioi mo kashitsu
tanabata ni
omou omoi o
sora ni shire tote
Scent I proffer
To the Weaver Maid;
The burning thoughts within my heart,
Let it carry to the heavens!

Lord Takanobu.


The Right state that ‘the expression “alone” (nomi) in Left’s poem is grating,’ while the Left have no particular criticisms of the Right.

Shunzei simply remarks, ‘The Left has a zither plucking the heart; the Right, the scent of burning incense carrying thoughts. Equally good word association. A tie.’

GSIS XV: 894

The year after her mother died, one evening when she was thinking idly following the final service, she was firmly wiping the dust from her zither, not playing it, yet from time to time a note rang out; her aunt, living in the same house, heard the zither’s notes , and sent a note over saying how sad it made her feel; she composed this in reply.


nakibito Fa
otodure mo sede
koto no wo wo
tatisi tuki Fi zo
She, who’s died,
Has sent no word
Yet a zither’s notes-
Broken-days gone by
Brings back.

The Mother of Major Councillor [Fujiwara no] Michitsuna