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.’

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