Tag Archives: fireflies

Koresada shinnō-ke uta’awase 22


aki no yo ni
kari kamo nakite
wa ga omou hito no
kotozute ya seru
On an autumn night
Is that the geese a’crying
As they pass by?
There is one I love—
Would you take a message to her?



oku tsuyu ni
kuchiyuku nobe no
kusa no ha ya
aki no hotaru to
Dew falls on
The rotting meadows, where
The blades of grass with
The tired autumn fireflies
Do seem to sound…


[1] A minor variant of this poem is included in Gosenshū (VII: 356), where it is attributed to [Ki no] Tsurayuki.

[2] This poem is included in Fubokushō (5548), where it is attributed to [Mibu no] Tadamine.

Koresada shinnō-ke uta’awase 2


aki to shinareba
asagiri ni
kata madowashite
nakanu hi zo naki
The plovers on the beach:
When the autumn comes,
In the morning mists
Do lose their way;
No day dawns without their cries…



aki kureba
miyamazato koso
yoru wa hotaru o
tomoshibi ni shite
When the autumn comes
My hut deep in the mountains
Is lonelier by far;
At night with fireflies
For my lantern.


[1] This poem also appears as Fubokushō 5545 where is it is listed as by Ōe no Chisato

Love VIII: 27

Left (Win)

mushi no ne mo
aki o kagiri to
uramu nari
taenu omoi ya
tagui naruran
The insects’ cries do
Mark the bounds of autumn
With despair;
Are endless thoughts of love
To be my only fellow?

Lord Kanemune


natsumushi mo
urayamashiki wa
aki no yo no
tsuyu ni wa moenu
omoi narikeri
The fireflies are
A source of envy,
On an autumn night
When dewfall damps down
The fires of my passion…


The Gentlemen of the Right: the Left’s poem has no faults to mention. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we wonder about the appropriateness of ‘dewfall damps down’ (tsuyu ni wa moenu).

In judgement: the Left’s poem has been stated to be without fault by the gentlemen present. In the Right’s poem, I wonder if saying, ‘dewfall damps down’ is meaning nothing burns in autumn? On the matter of using the term ‘summer insects’ (natsumushi) to refer to fireflies, I do wonder whether it is appropriate to imply with one’s composition that there are no such insects in autumn. Although in the Collection of Poems to Sing Aloud, fireflies occur in the Summer section, among the same collection’s Chinese poems there is ‘in the dark before dawn innumerable fireflies start from the autumn grasses’. Furthermore, in Pan Anren’s ‘Rhapsody on Autumn Inspirations’ he says, ‘Glittering fireflies shine by the palace gate, and crickets sing from the eaves of the fence’. Even though there are countless cases of Autumn fireflies, how can one have composed suggesting that there are not? Thus, the Left wins.

Autumn I: 17

Left (Win).


hakanashi ya
aretaru yado no
utatane ni
inazuma kayou
tamakura no tsuyu
How brief it was!
In a ruined dwelling
Dozing, when
Lightning crossed
The dewdrops on my pillowing arm…

A Servant Girl.




sawa no hotaru wa
kage kiete
taedae yadoru
yoi no inazuma
All together have
The fireflies above the marsh
Lost their light;
Briefly remaining,
Lightning at the dusk…



The Right state that they have no criticisms of the Left’s poem. The Left wonder about the suitability of fireflies disappearing in the autumn.

Shunzei feels, ‘The Left’s poem is certainly charming in form and expression, but more thought should have been given to the initial phrase “How brief it was!” (hakanashi ya). The Right’s poem, too, is charming, and as for fireflies being a topic for summer poetry alone, in autumn it is acceptable to compose on the failing of their light, is it not? Did not Anjin compose “Fireflies flashing on the palace stairs and gates/Crickets crying from the eaves and tiles”? There is also the example from the Collection of Songs to Sing Aloud of “Seeking cuckoo calls in the dawntime clouds/Innumerable fireflies flit among the autumn grasses”. Still, the Left’s “dewdrops on my pillowing arm” wins, I think.’

Love 57

Left (Tie).


kururu yo wa
eji no taku hi wo
sore to miyo
muro no yashima mo
miyako naraneba
In the dark of night,
The conscripts kindled flames
Behold as my love, for
The waters of Muro no Yashima
Lie not within the capital.


Right (Tie).


ashi no ya ni
hotaru ya magau
ama ya taku
omoi mo koi mo
yoru wa moetsutsu
In a reed-roofed hut,
One might mistake for fireflies, or
Fisherfolk’s kindled fires
The passion and the love, that
Burns in me throughout the night.