Tag Archives: cicadas

MYS XV: 3617

[One of] five poems composed when dropping anchor at Nagadojima in Aki province.


taki mo todoro ni
naku semi no
kowe o si kikeba
miyako si omopoyu
Running o’er the rocks
Cataracts resound –
When the singing cicadas
Song I hear
The capital comes to my thoughts.

Ōishi no Minomaro

Autumn II: 6

Left (Tie).


kosame furu
katsushika wase o
karu mama ni
tami no sode sae
Showers fall in
Katsushika; early ripened rice
Even the peasants’ sleeves
Are damp.



Right (Tie).


kohagi saku
katayamakage ni
higurashi no
nakisu sabitaru
murasame no sora
Bush clover blooming
In the mountain’s shade;
The sundown cicadas
Sing intermittently
To the showery skies.



Neither team has any criticisms to make.

Shunzei say, ‘The style and construction of both poems is superb, though the Left’s is particularly archaic in tone, and thus using mama ni in the central section is somewhat weak, is it not? Surely, “Whilst reaping” (karu nae ni) would have been a better fit! The Right’s simple conclusion of “showery skies” (murasame no sora) is particularly effective. However, the Left, too, with “even the peasants’ sleeves” (tami no sode sae) shows a fine spirit. The two poems are a match and tie.’

Summer II: 30

Left (Win).


naru semi no
ha ni oku tsuyu ni
aki kakete
kokage suzushiki
yūkure no koe
Upon the singing cicadas’
Wings fall dewdrops,
Heralding autumn;
Cool, and shaded by the trees
Are their evening songs…

A Servant Girl.




natsu fukaki
mori no kozue ni
kanete yori
aki o kanashimu
semi no koe kana
In the depths of summer
From the forest treetops,
Long before
Autumn, in sadness
Do the cicadas sing.



Neither Left nor Right can find fault with the other’s poem this round.

Shunzei states, ‘It is rather difficult to know a cicada’s mind – as to whether or not it is mourning the coming of autumn long before it arrives. The Left’s “Wings fall dewdrops, heralding autumn” (ha ni oku tsuyu ni aki kakete), is particularly delicate in expression and charming. It must win.’

Summer II: 29

Left (Win).


natsu yama no
kozue mo takaku
naru semi wa
nakanaka koe zo
In the summer mountains
Treetop high
The cicadas sing, yet
If anything, their songs
More distant have become.

Lord Kanemune.




aki chikaki
kigi no kozue ni
kaze koete
shitaba ni utsuru
semi no koegoe
Autumn draws near, and
The trees’ tops are
Brushed by breezes;
Shifted to the lower leaves are
The cicadas’ songs.



The Right state the Left’s poem has nothing problematic about it. The Left wonder whether there is any evidence that cicadas move in response to wind.

Shunzei remarks, ‘The Right’s poem is, indeed, lacking in evidence. However, could it not be that cicadas would feel a sense of danger from the wind and move to a tree’s lower leaves? The Left’s poem is elegant, though, and must win.’

Summer II: 28

Left (Win).


yūma yama
matsu no ha kaze ni
semi no naku ne mo
mine wataru nari
Upon Yūma Mountain
The wind passing o’er the pine needles:
Just so
Do the cicadas’ cries
Pass between the peaks.





miyamabe no
natsu kodachi
semi no koe tote
shigekaranu ka wa
In the mountains’ heart
Of deepest green
Are the trees in summer, yet
The cicadas’ songs
Surpass them in profusion.

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Right state that, ‘the expression ha kaze is usually used in reference to birds.’ (Ha here used to mean ‘leaf’, was also the word for ‘wing’.) The Left query, ‘the use of tote,’ which is a particle not usually used in poetry. In addition, they say, ‘“Trees in summer” (natsu kodachi) is should only be used in poems on the topic of “Summer Greenery”.’

Shunzei states, ‘The expression “wind passing o’er the pine needles” (matsu no ha kaze) is not that common, however, it is certainly not the case that ha kaze can only be used in reference to birds. Are not “wind passing o’er the bamboo leaves” (take no ha kaze) or “wind passing o’er the silver grass fronds” (ogi no ha kaze) everyday expressions? However, would it not have been better to say “the wind, blowing ‘gainst the pines: just so” (matsu fuku kaze ni uchisoete)? The Right’s “trees in summer” (natsu kodachi) and “surpass them in profusion” are interesting but, still, “pass between the peaks” (mine wataru nari) and “Yūma Mountain” (yūma yama) are better, I think.’

Summer II: 27



hima mo naku
shinoda no mori ni
kikoyu nari
chie ni ya kinaku
semi no morogoe
In Shinoda forest
Does one hear
From the thousand branches of the camphor tree
The cicadas’ jostling songs?

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Win).


natsuyama no
ki goto ni hibiku
hitokata naranu
semi no morogoe
In the summer mountains
Every single tree resounds,
I feel,
From all sides comes
The cicadas’ jostling songs.

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


Both Left and Right state simply that they found the other’s poem ‘unsatsifying’.

Shunzei wonders, ‘Whether “Shinoda forest cicadas” (shinoda no mori no semi) is entirely appropriate? It has more the feeling of cuckoos, I think. “Every single tree resounds” (ki goto ni hibiku kokochi sen) is more like it. Thus, I would make Right the winner.’