Tag Archives: cypress

Love VIII: 8


koi shinaba
kokemusu tsuka ni
kae furite
moto no chigiri ni
kuchi ya hatenan
Should I have died of love and
Upon my moss-hung tomb
An aged cypress be
Would those vows from long ago
Have rotted quite away?

Lord Sada’ie

Right (Win)

kaku bakari
omou to kimi mo
shirakashi ni
shiraji na iro ni
ideba koso arame
That so much
I long for you,
You know not; for what hues
Might I show?

The Supernumerary Master of the Empress Household Office

The Gentlemen of the Right state: ‘tomb’ (tsuka) and ‘cypress’ (kae) are frightening. The Gentlemen of the Left state: ‘evergreen’ (kashi) is the same, is it not?

In judgement: What might ‘upon my moss-hung tomb an aged cypress be’ (kokemusu tsuka ni kae furite) mean? Maybe the poet had in mind the part of the Scribe’s Records, where Duke Wen of Jin, on parting from his wife in Di, says, ‘If you wait for me for twenty-five years and I have still not returned, then marry again,’ but his wife laughs and says, ‘After ageing for twenty-five years, a cypress will be growing upon my tomb!’ The Right’s ‘evergreen’ (shirakashi) must simply serve to introduce to ‘you know not; for what hues might I show?’ (shiraji na iro ni ideba koso arame). However, both ‘cypress’ (kae) and ‘evergreen’ (kashi) lack admirable qualities. The round should tie.

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.

Miscellaneous 82

Left (Tie).


ikuyo henu
kazashi oriken
inishie ni
miwa no hihara no
koke no kayoiji
How many ages passed?
Twigs plucked and placed in hair,
Long ago
In Miwa’s cypress groves,
Along the moss-covered paths…




mizu shirazu
uzumorenu na no
ato ya kore
tanabiki wataru
yūgure no sora
Unseen, unknown,
Of an everlasting name
This the only trace,
Trailing across
The evening sky?


ki no ha chiru

On the leaves on the trees: thinking to see the autumn leaves on the cherry trees at the end of autumn, he went deep into Yoshino; on resting on his cane a moment, feet hurting in his straw sandals:


ki no ha chiru
sakura wa karushi
hinoki gasa
All the leaves have fallen and
The cherries seem insubstantial
As my cypress umbrella.