Third Rank Lay Priest [Minamoto no Yorimasa] summoned his retainer, Watanabe Chōjitsu.
‘Take my head,’ he ordered, but overcome with the sorrow of taking his master’s life, Chōjitsu cried, overcome with tears, ‘Such a service is unthinkable. I would only dare to do it afterwards, should my Lord take his own life.’
‘I see,’ Yorimasa replied, then faced the west and chanted the name of Amida Buddha ten times in a loud voice, before reciting:
umoregi no hana saku koto mo nakarishi ni mi no naru hate zo aware narikeru
On a drowned tree Blossoms flower Not a one— To reach the end of life Is sad, indeed!
With these as his last words, he ran the tip of his great sword through his belly, collapsing over it and died. At such a time, one would not normally be able to compose a poem, but Yorimasa had loved the Way of Waka extravagantly since he was young, so at the last he did not forget it.
[i] This poem is included as the final spring poem in Kokinshū (II: 134), attributed to Mitsune, and with the headnote, ‘A poem on the end of spring from the Poetry Contest held by Former Emperor Uda’.
[i] This poem is included in Shinshūishū (XI: 1549), attributed to Okikaze, with the headnote, ‘From Former Emperor Uda’s Poetry Contest’. It is also included twice in Kokin rokujō (I: 31) and (VI: 4395): in both cases the poem is attributed to Okikaze, but the first instance lacks a headnote, while the second is classified as a ‘Warbler’ poem. Finally, it is also included in Mandaishū (II: 254), again attributed to Okikaze, but this time with the headnote, ‘Topic unknown’.
[ii] Given that the Left’s poem here is marked as winning, presumably Uda means that both poems are equally worthy of a win—that is, that this is a yoki ji, a ‘tie of quality’.