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: it is certainly possible to say that the ‘bridge at Nagara’ has ‘rotted’ (kutsu), but there are, we think, no other examples of it ‘ceasing’ (tayu). The Left state: we wonder about the appropriateness of saying ‘love not a trace’ (koi ni ato nashi).
In judgement: both poems refer to ‘the bridge at Nagara’ and, as has been mentioned by the Gentlemen of the Right in their criticism, the Left uses ‘has ceased to be, yet’ (taeshikado); there are many poems using ‘rotted’, because this is what happens to the pillars of bridges. After this bridge ceased to be, the pillars would still be rotting away. If you have the bridge ‘being built’ (tsukuru nari), why would you not then have it ‘ceasing’? That being said, I am only accustomed to hearing ‘bridge pillars’ (hashibashira), and having only ‘pillars’ (hashira) sounds completely lacking in logic. The Right’s poem uses ‘love not a trace’ (koi ato nashi): it is entirely natural for a variety of different things not to leave a trace. The current criticism must be due to there not being a prior example of this usage, but it is particularly difficult to say this about the initial section of the poem. The Right wins.
The Gentlemen of the Right state: the Left’s poem is most moving. The Right’s poem, the Gentlemen of the Left state, is fine.
Shunzei’s judgement: the Left’s poem has one counting to the end of the moon’s transits through the sky, while the Right has clouds parting from a mountain peak being the poet’s thoughts given form. Both poems are elegant in configuration and diction, but the Right’s ‘even the clouds’ (kumo ni dani) does not fit with the ending. The Left maintains its connections from beginning to end. Thus, I make it the winner.
The Gentlemen of the Right state: the Left’s poem is entirely in the conception of a morning after poem. This does not match the conception of this topic. The Gentlemen of the Left state: the sense of the Right’s poem is difficult to grasp. The use of ‘dream’ (yume) does not fit with the remainder of the poem’s contents.
Shunzei’s judgement: in terms of the Left’s poem, the morning after is also a parting. What fault can be found in this? However, the Right’s ‘change of heart in a prescient dream’ sounds charming. Thus, the Right wins.
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.