In the Tenryaku period, when the Ichijō Regent [Fujiwara no Koretada] was Head Chamberlain, His Majesty lost his belt to him while playing go. The games continued, and Koretada’s losses mounted, so His Majesty composed this poem to ask for the return of his belt.
uti ya kaFesu to
matu Fodo ni
Fama no masago no
kazu zo tumoreru
Wondering when the whitecaps
Will return, and
The grains of sand upon the beach
Increase in number!
The Left’s ‘speak of autumn’ (aki no koe) and the Right’s ‘born from’ (tsuzuku) are each found unsatisfactory by the opposing team.
Shunzei states, ‘Both the poems of the Left and Right have been found unsatisfactory by a number of modern poets, and is this not reasonable? However, the Left’s “Brushed by the breeze speak of autumn” (kawarishi kaze no aki no koe) is particularly fine. The Right’s “born from” is not a turn of phrase which could be considered pleasant; starting with “streaming” (nabikiyuku) and then continuing to “breezes off the beaches” (hamakaze) which lead to “Mano in the gales” (mano no nowaki ni) suggests an implicit meaning, but the Left’s upper and lower sections are finer. It should win.’