Tag Archives: koma

Love III: 19


araki keshiki o
midarao no
komagoma to koso
You have changed, and
Dishevelled in appearance
As a piebald
Colt, you are not, yet
I hate you still!


Right (Win).

tsuyu shigeki
aki no no mo se no
itsu made yoso no
mono to kikiken
Dew drenched,
The autumn field is all
Covered with kuzu,
For how long will such distant
Whispers reach me?

Lord Takanobu

The Right state: the Left’s poem sounds pretentious. We are also unable to accept the use of ‘colt, you are not’ (komagoma). The Left state: the Right’s poem sounds archaic.

In judgement: ‘Dishevelled in appearance as a piebald’ (araki keshiki o midarao) is entirely unacceptable style. As for ‘covered with kuzu’, while ‘field is all’ (no mo se) is also undesirable, the final section is elegant. It should win over ‘piebald’.

Winter II: 1



yamazato wa
asakawa wataru
koma no oto ni
seze no kōri no
hodo o shiru kana
Dwelling in the mountains,
Crossing the river in the morning,
The horses’ footfalls
Upon the ice within the shallows
Tells to me its depth…



Right (Win).


tanikawa no
kōru dani aru
yamazato ni
hito mo oto senu
kesa no shirayuki
The streamlet,
Even, has frozen
At my mountain home;
No folks’ footfalls
On this snow-white morning…



The Right have no criticisms to make of the Left’s poem. The Left just remark that the Right’s use of ‘even’ (dani aru) is ‘poor’ [yokarazu].

Shunzei’s judgement: Despite the Left starting their poem with ‘dwelling in the mountains’ (yamazato wa), even if it is on a winter morning, where must it take place? It must be at a riverside estate, or village. In addition, the only element of the conception of morning, is ‘crossing the river in the morning’ (asa kawa wataru). I do wonder about the sound of ‘even, has frozen’ (kōri dani aru), but the snow in the morning is more moving and charming [aware mo okashiku mo] than the Left’s mere sound of horses’ hooves on ice, so the Right’s is the better poem.

Summer I: 8

Left (Win).


tare ka yuku
natsuno no kusa no
hazue yori
honoka ni miyuru
mishima sugagasa
Who is that a’coming?
Above the summer plains’ grass
Distantly appears
A Mishima sedge-hat!

Lord Suetsune.




natsukusa ni
no kai no koma mo
ibayuru koe zo
hito ni shiraruru
Among the summer grasses
The herded horses, too,
Are hidden;
Whinnying neighs
Are what let folk know!

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


Neither team has any comments to make about the other’s poem this round.

Shunzei remarks, ‘While the Left’s poem is certainly affecting, might it not be the case that simply “someone” (tare ka yuku) seen at a distance wearing a Mishima sedge-hat is insufficiently moving? However, the conception of the Right’s poem is not that surprising [kokoro wa mezurashikaranedo], and the expression [kotoba] “are hidden” (kakuroete) is certainly inappropriate [yoroshiki kotoba ni arazarubeshi]. “Sedge-hat” should win, should it not!’

Spring I: 19

Left (Tie).


nawa tatsu koma o
ika ni shite
nobe no hatsugusa
Seeming driven wild and
Tether snapping is my steed:
How might
He be tied,
By the fresh grasses on the plain?



Right (Tie).


kesa mireba
sawa no wakazeri
shitane toke
midori ni hayuru
yuki no mura kie
Looking this morning on
The fresh dropwort by the marsh,
Melting round the roots –
So greenly growing –
Snow spots were vanishing.

Lord Takanobu


The Right team comment here that the Left’s poem is in the same spirit as Shun’e’s poem in the Shikashū (SKS I: 12). Into this has been inserted the additional idea of ‘tether snapping’ (nawa tatsu), and this is ‘grating on the ear’.

The Left team, in turn, say that the Right’s poem contains both ‘melting’ (toke) and ‘vanishing’ (kie) and this is an error. (Japanese poetics held that a poem should not contain two words with identical meanings.) It is also ‘undesirable’ to use ‘growing’ (hayuru).

Shunzei comments that the Right team have correctly identified the resemblance of the Left’s poem to that by the Monk Shun’e, and in such poems, it is commonplace not to avoid this. However, as in Taira no Sadafun’s poem in the Shūishū (SIS XVIII: 1185). ‘Tether snapping’ (nawa tatsu) is used of approaching a woman. (Nawa tatsu 縄絶つ ‘tether snapping’ is homophonous with na wa tatsu 名は立つ ‘one’s name would arise (in conversation)’ – in other words, ‘be gossiped about’.) Here, though, it is simply used about breaking a rope, or cord, and ‘is this not mundane?’ The Right’s poem starts ‘very well’, but to use ‘growing’ (hayuru) is ‘not good at all’. Both poems are ‘commonplace’ and so neither deserves a win.