Tag Archives: kozue

Winter I: 3



nagame mo utsuru
niwa no iro yo
nani o kozue no
fuyu ni nokosan
A slight regret I feel, as
My gaze shifts
With the garden’s hues;
What of the treetops
Will remain in winter?

Lord Sada’ie.




momiji kakiwake
iro sae fukaki
yamaji narikeri
Fallen in drifts,
Forging through the scarlet leaves
I come, and see
The depth of colour laid
Upon the mountain paths.

Lord Takanobu.


The Right state that the Left’s poem is lacking in conception [kokoro yukazu]. The Left respond that the Right’s poem, as in the previous round, is old-fashioned in both conception and diction [kokoro kotoba onaji yō ni furumekashi].

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s poem does seem to have some conception about it, despite the Right’s criticism of this as lacking. Although the Right’s ‘depths of colour’ (iro sae fukaki) appears easy to grasp, again, the round should tie.

Autumn III: 11

Left (Win).


shizuku mo iro mo
mori no shitagusa
aki fukenikeri
In the oak grove
Have the raindrops, too, their hues
For to the grass beneath the sacred boughs
Has autumn come!

A Servant Girl.




atari made
kozue sabishiki
fukaku wa nani o
From all around
The treetops in the lonely
Oak grove
Deep within what
Thoughts would fill one’s mind?



The Right have no criticisms to make of the Left’s poem. The Left query the usage of ‘from all around’ (atari made).

Shunzei’s judgement: The Right’s poem would certainly appear to have an in-depth grasp of the conception of the topic [makoto ni kokoro komorige ni miete], however, my shallow understanding is unable to follow it; besides which the Left’s ‘to the grass beneath the sacred boughs has autumn come!’ (mori no shitagusa aki fukenikeri) is most fine [yoroshiku habereba], so I have no need for further consideration and make the Left the winner.

Autumn III: 9



aki zo kashi
wata no ono no
hahaso ga hara ni
momiji ya wa sen
It’s Autumn!
At Iwata-no-Ono,
Needless to say,
The oak groves, all,
Are turning to scarlet leaves.

Lord Ari’ie.




usuku koku
koto wa kawaredo
kozue ni kozoru
aki no iro kana
First dark, then light
They change, yet,
Upon the oak groves’
Treetops gather
All the hues of autumn…

The Provisional Master of the Empress Household Office.


The Right find no fault with the Left’s poem. The Left state that they find ‘gather’ (kozoru) ‘grating on the ear’ [kikiyokarazu] and ‘clumsy’ [tezutsu].

Shunzei’s judgement: Starting a poem with ‘It’s Autumn!’ is a usage of diction which I must hope will be considered charming [kotobazukai okashikaran to shokiseru narubeshi]! The Right’s ‘treetops gather’ (kozue ni kozoru) is somewhat unexpected wording [sukoshi wa omoikakenu kotoba ni wa haberedo], yet one cannot call it ‘clumsy’. So, with nothing superlative or at fault with either poem, the round ties.

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 I: 6



hana wa chirinu
ika ni iite ka
hito matan
tsuki dani moranu
niwa no kozue ni
The blossoms all are fallen, and
What am I to say?
Does it await folk visiting?
The moonlight, leaving untouched
The treetops in my garden…

A Servant Girl.


Right (Win).


haru fukaki
nobe no keshiki to
mishi hodo ni
midori wa yado no
kozue narikeri
Spring lay deep
Across the fields
I saw, and then
The green was on my lodgings’



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

Shunzei states, ‘Both of these poems are superlative in configuration and diction [sugata kotoba tomo ni yū], but the Left’s “await folk visiting” (hito matan) seems slightly unsatisfying. The Right’s “green on my lodgings” (midori wa yado no) gives it a slight edge in configuration [sutata sukoshi wa masarubeku], and so it should win.”

Summer I: 4



kage hitasu
mizu sae iro zo
yomo no kozue no
onaji wakaba ni
Steeped in shade
Even the water’s hue
Has turned to green:
All around, the treetops
Loft the same new leaves…

Lord Sada’ie.


Right (Win).


midori ni miyuru
izure ka hana no
kozue narikemu
All has
Turned to green on
Otowa mountain;
Which were the blossomed
Treetops, I wonder?

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right state, ‘The use of “steeped” (hitasu) is not at all laudable,’ to which the Left reply that it is ‘in the spirit of “shade-steeped southern mountain”’, referring to a line in a famous xinyuefu (新楽府; ‘new ballad’ – a Chinese poetic form), ‘Kunming Spring’ (昆明春). They then continue, ‘Why the particular reference to Otowa Mountain? In addition, doesn’t the poem seem redolent of a reversal of Lord [Minamoto no] Yorimasa’s “the cherries do appear in bloom” (sakura wa hana ni arawarenikeri)?’ The Right, rather tersely reply, ‘Such things are only to be expected.’

Shunzei acknowledges the Chinese model for the Left’s poem: ‘ “Shade-steeped southern mountain” appears in the Baishiwenji, yet in this poem it appears to give an inappropriate emphasis [on the water rather than the trees]. In the Right’s poem, Otowa Mountain could certainly be any mountain. As for the reference to Lord Yorimasa’s poem – this type of technique is becoming increasingly common nowadays. The Right should win.’

Spring III: 8



hana chireba
michi ya wa yokenu
shiga no yama
utate kozue o
koyuru haru kaze
The blossom will fall, so
Will you not avoid the path
Across the Shiga Mountains?
Heartlessly, the treetops,
Brushing, O, springtime breeze!

Lord Ari’ie.


Right (Win).


shiga no yamaji o
chiriyuku hana zo
shirube narikeru
Shiga Mountains’ path
To cross,
The scattering blossoms
Show the way.

Lord Tsune’ie.


On the Left’s poem, the Right team state that ‘“will you not avoid” (yokenu) sounds poor.’ The Left have no criticisms to make of the Right’s work.

Shunzei agrees: ‘The terms “will you not avoid” and “heartlessly” (utate) seem quite unpleasant. Thus, the Right wins.’

Spring III: 7

Left (Win).


sode no yuki
sora fuku kaze mo
hitotsu nite
hana ni nioeru
shiga no yamagoe
The snow upon my sleeves
Blown through the breezy skies
Is one with
The scent of blossom on
The path across the Shiga Mountains.

Lord Sada’ie.




arashi fuku
hana no kozue ni
ato miete
haru mo sugiyuku
shiga no yamagoe
Storm winds blow
Blossom from the treetops:
Footprints mark
The passage of Spring on
The path across the Shiga Mountains.



The Right team remark about the Left’s poem that ‘beginning two lines with so (sode…sora) is grating’, while the Left have no criticisms to make of the Right’s poem.

Shunzei states, ‘The gentlemen of the Right have remarked upon the Left poem’s grating qualities. Nevertheless, does it not seem that this path across the Shiga Mountains is particularly intriguing? The Right’s poem mentions ‘blossom from the treetops/footprints mark’ (hana no kozue ni ato miete), but if the sense is that the blossom has already fallen, it seems that there would be little of interest in such a sight. The Left should win, I think.’

Spring I: 7

Left (Tie).


nao sayuru
keshiki ni shirushi
mada fuyugomoru
kozue naruran
Still so clear
Is the scene: it must be a sign that
Mountain cherries are
Yet sealed in winter,
Outstanding on the treetops…

Lord Suetsune


Right (Tie).


fuyu ni wa yuki no
haru tomo iwazu
How it must long for
Winter – the snow
Though ‘tis spring, needless to say:
That is clear, indeed!

The Provisional Assistant Master of the Empress’ Household Office


The Right state that as the entirety of the topic is expressed in the first line of the Left’s poem, it lack care [nen nashi]. The Left respond that saying that the characters of the topic appear in the first line of our poem suggest the Right is unable to count correctly! As for the Right’s poem, we find no particular faults, but it is ordinary [mezurashiki ni arazu].

Shunzei’s judgement: The form of both poems is splendid [sugata wa yū ni koso haberumere]. In general, the mass of modern composition, whether or not it shows understanding of the form and diction of poetry [kinrai no utayomi no tomogara, sugata kotoba wa shireru ka shirazaru ka], also frequently fails to show enough attention to details of techique [bimyō no fūjō] and that I have cause to say this is certainly not laudable [kanshin serezaru koto]. However, the Right’s ‘the snow remains’ (yuki no okureite), seems somewhat contrived [sukoshi omoubeku], though the final one is excellent [yoroshikuhaberu]. Thus, it’s impossible to distinguish between the two poems.