Spring II: 8

Left (Win).


hito ya kikuran
sugi no no ni
saodoru kigisu
koe shikirinari
Does the hunting
Party hear it?
Among the cypress groves
The waltzing pheasants’
Cries come clearly.

Lord Suetsune




kigisu naku
katano no hara no
todachi koso
makoto ni kari no
The pheasants cry upon
The plain of Katano:
In the bird-brakes,
Truly, will they find only brief

Lord Tsune’ie


The Right say they have no particular criticisms of the Left’s poem this round. The Right, on the other hand, say that ‘pheasants crying in the bird brakes’ (kigisu naku todachi) sounds ‘clumsy’. After all, a bird-brake is a place from where birds fly, and those birds are pheasants. The Left counter that Fujiwara no Kintō’s poem, ‘Of my mountain hut, the blossoms are the lodgings’ (yamazato Fa Fana koso yado no) is a similar case, as there is no difference between a ‘hut’ and ‘lodgings’, and there is nothing to criticise in this poem.

Shunzei begins by saying that the Left’s poem, below ‘cypress groves’ (sugi no no) is ‘old-fashioned’, while the top two stanzas are ‘modern poetry’, and wonders whether it is not ‘unsuitable’ to mix these styles in one poem. As to the question of whether the Right’s poem is ‘defective’, the poem they cite in its defence is ‘even more defective’ (meaning that the complete version of Kintō’s poem uses the same auxiliary verb (-keri) twice). However, in ancient times, and the past, too, it was the normal state of affairs that ‘such defects were not avoided.’ Is it not the case, he asks, whether ‘the anthologies and poetry competitions are entirely different?’ (The commentators take this as suggesting it’s better to avoid producing ‘defective’ poems in competition.) Thus, though he finds the use of old-fashioned expressions like ‘waltzing’ (saodoru) displeasing, the Left’s poem is not defective and so must win this round.

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