On the 13th day of First Month Tenpyō 2, there was a gathering at the residence of the Governor General for a banquet. That year the month was truly a perfect example of early spring, with a sublime atmosphere and gentle breezes. The plum blossom bloomed with the whiteness of the powder one applies before a mirror; the orchids gave off a scent like that trailed behind one from a perfumed sachet. Moreover, in the morning the clouds moved across the peaks, and capped the pine trees with a silken gauze. Then with the evening mists rose from the mountain caverns, and birds, lost in the silken folds, flew in confusion through the woods. In the garden, new-born butterflies danced, while in the skies, geese flew homeward. Thus, with the heavens to cover us, and the land spread out before, we sat with knees close together and the wine-cups flew back and forth. All of us together quite forgot our words, and allowed our hearts to fly free in the beautiful scene. Truly, there is no way to measure the emotions of the time, so filled with pleasure were we. Were it not for poetry, how could we record our feelings? In the poetry of Cathay, there are volumes on the fallen blossoms, but what difference is there between those ancient compositions and those of the present? And so, and so, shall we not compose short poems on this garden of blossoming plum?
mutuki tati paru no kitaraba kaku shi koso mume wo manekitutu tanosiki opeme
The First Month appears and With the coming of spring Thus Beckoned by plum blossom Will we exhaust ourselves with joy!
The Right state: the Left’s poem lacks any faults to indicate. The Left state: is the Right’s poem not composed upon the plum blossom of the house next door?
In judgement: for the topic of ‘Nearby Love’, poems composed where the lovers are in the same room are most likely winners. Even so, how close do their dwellings need to be? The Left’s latter section, ‘Her night-robe’s scent upon my sleeves’ (sayogoromo nioi wa sode ni) is certainly elegant. The Right’s poem has ‘Their master is as far away’ (aruji wa tōki). Simply because of this, it is certainly not composed on plum blossom. Still, the Left’s ‘night-robe’ (sayogoromo) seems a little superior to ‘The scent drifting from the treetops is my only consolation’ (nioikuru kozue bakari o nasake nite).