The late Master of the Right Capital Office was Lord Muneyuki. While he was fretting over when he might achieve advancement, His Majesty, the Cloistered Teishi Emperor was presented with a stone with seaweed clinging to it from the province of Ki, and various people presented poems on the topic. The Master of the Right Capital Office composed
oki tsu kaze fukei no ura ni tatsu nami no nagori ni sae ya ware wa shitsuman
From the offing the wind blows Upon the beach at Fukei; Are the breaking waves Indeed a memento I might keep?
The Right state: ‘did sleep’ (neshi) is particularly unimpressive. The Left state: ‘more than sleeves’ (sode o kagiru) is, perhaps, over-definite.
In judgement: in the Left’s poem, despite ‘did sleep upon these blankets’ (neshi samushiro) referring to something which definitely exists, it still sounds as if there is not much poetic expression in the poem. ‘Is a memento’ (katami ga tera) fails to resemble ‘for blossom viewing’ (hanami ga tera). As for the Right’s poem, I certainly would not say that ‘tears on more than sleeves have that effect’ (namida wa sode o kagiru nomi ka wa) is over-definite. It is somewhat difficult to make out on hearing, but the configuration is poetic, indeed, so the Right should win, it seems.
The Gentlemen of the Right state: the initial line of the Left’s poem sounds poor. The sense of the ending, too, is difficult to grasp. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we wonder about the appropriateness of changing oneself into a bed.
In judgement: both Left and Right refer to ‘a boar lounging in his bed’ (fusu i no toko), and it has been mentioned that the initial line of the Left’s poem sounds poor, and that its ending is difficult to grasp. There really are a number of unacceptable aspects to this poem, are there not, so I cannot add any further words to what has been said. The Right’s poem is not suggesting that one change oneself into a bed. It is saying that one should briefly become a boar, that one might dream briefly of love. How can one possibly see the dream of a boar lying asleep? It certainly seems inferior to ‘not envying a lounging boar’.
The Right query, ‘The use of “from the eaves droplets” (noki ni shizuku). Surely it should be “on the eaves droplets” (noki no shizuku)?’ The Left respond, ‘These are identical in meaning and have no real difference.’ They then wonder, ‘Whether the Right’s poem has not changed in topic to tree shade?’
Shunzei says simply, ‘Both Left’s latter section, and the Right’s initial section are particularly pedestrian in expression, but the Left’s “From the eaves droplets” is slightly superior.’
In this round the Right team have no criticisms to make of the Left’s poem, but the Left query beginning a poem with ‘memento’, as the audience then immediately wonder, ‘A memento of what?’
Shunzei comments that the Left’s poem starts extremely well, but that, even though ‘in sight’ (nagame kana) has been frequently used in poetry recently, its spirit has yet to be fully determined, and so including it here must be considered a mistake. Furthermore, the concluding line, ‘snowfall with the dawning’ (yuki no akebono), has also been much used in recent poetry. As for the Right’s poem, he feels it ends extremely well, but echoes the criticism of the Left about the beginning. Thus, the best result for this round is a tie.