Left and Right together: both tigers do not seem to emphasise anything in particular.
In judgement: both poems refer to ‘tigers’ (tora), with the Left having ‘a valley where tigers lie’ (tora fusu tani) and the Right ‘isles where tigers lie’ (tora fusu shima). These seem to be an attempt to differ from the standard ‘meadow’ (nobe). Saying ‘valley’ or ‘isles’ makes both poems sound modern. They are of the same quality.
The Gentlemen of the Right state: how can love be dangerous? The Gentlemen of the Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.
In judgement: saying that the ‘paths of love are, at the end’ (koiji no sue) dangerous is perfectly commonplace. ‘Is only a withered field of cogon grass’ (hito mo kareno no asajiwara) seems to simply have taken the poem ‘Sedge fields lie / Around the estate of Fushimi, / All long overgrown; / He who passed across them / Has left no tracks at all…’ and swapped in ‘mount who once did cross it’ (kayoishi koma). Changing a man into a mount is discomposing, indeed. Again, the Left should win.
[One of] two poems composed at the farewell festivities at the house of Ōtomo no Kojihi, Captain of the Outer Palace Bodyguards, for Ōtomo no Komaro, who was going as deputy ambassador on an embassy to China.
masura takewo ni
In Cathay when
All you have done
Return to us
O mighty man
To whom I proffer this esteemed draught!
The Right state that the Left’s use of ‘every one’ (bakari) connects poorly with the subsequent section [kakeawazu]. The Left state that the while the style of the Right’s poem seems elegant [sono tei yū ni niru to iedomo], ‘A dwelling, yet unseen bush-clover’ (mada minu sato no hagi) is hard to hear [kikigataku].
Shunzei’s judgement: ‘Distant Cathay unseen and unknown once’ (morokoshi no mizu shiranu yo) must be referring to the Three Histories and Eight Dynasties. This seems to be meaningful, but does not really indicate anything profound. As for ‘a dwelling, yet unseen bush-clover’, whichever way you look at it, it is modified by ‘dewfall has come’ (tsuyu o sasouran). However, the Left also has the recollection of Cathay, so the two poems are comparable.
The Right query whether it is possible to draw an association between ‘Cathay robes’ and snipe? The Left wonder about the usage of’lonely reverie as beating wings’.
Shunzei’s judgement: The criticisms from both teams are ones I have encountered before. As the poet has used ‘My sleeve – from which the snipe’ (sode yori shigi), and ‘a hut at Susono’ (susono no io), it requires the use of ‘Cathay robes’ (kara koromo) – there is no more to it than that. As for the Right, saying ‘Snipe start from the fields’ (shigi tatsu nobe) and ‘All night long in lonely reverie as beating wings time and again’ (yowa no aware mo momohagaki) – there is no fault to be found here, either. However, saying ‘My sleeve – from which the snipe’ is better. It must win.
Both Left and Right say they have no criticisms to make this round.
Shunzei says, ‘The Left’s poem recalls an ancient Chinese festival, while the Right’s mentions one from our own Court. In terms style and form, neither poem has any particular problems. The round must tie.’