Poems composed on the ninth day of the Third Month, at the end of spring, when on the way to the village of Furue to oversee the distribution of seed rice to the poor, and observing blossom by the roadside. Poems composed at places of interest and put together.
A poem composed on seeing a tree upon the crags when passing the point at Shibutani. The tree was a tsumama.
iso no upe no tumama wo mireba ne wo papete tosi pukakarasi kamu sabinikeri
When upon the stony shore A hardy evergreen I see, Roots extending The length of its years, How venerable it is!
The Right state: it sounds as if the man is enduring on the treetops. The Left state: ‘I will listen no more!’ (kikaji tada) is extremely coarse.
In judgement: while it may sound as if the man is enduring on the treetops in the Left’s poem, this is no more than a standard use of metaphorical expression, and the configuration of ‘accustomed to his being here, now, he comes not and from the treetops’ (suminareshi hito wa kozue ni) sounds fine, with the latter part of the poem also being elegant. The initial line of the Right’s poem has a conception of closing up the ears to block one’s auditory sense, which seems excessive. Clearly, the Left’s ‘my zither’s strains’ (koto no ne ni nomi) must win.
In judgement: both Left and Right mention ‘a crane calling for her chick’ (ko o omou tsuru). This would appear to be after the conception of the pentachord in Bai’s Works: ‘The third and fourth strings are chill, and at night a crane, loving her chick, calls from her cage.’ This is not the usual zither with seven strings, but it is certainly also a kind of zither. In the topic ‘On Zithers’ there is certainly no issue with alluding to Japanese zithers or Chinese ones, is there? In any case, neither poem seems greatly inferior or superior, so the round ties.
koto no ne mo
matsu ni wa kayou
mono to koso kike
My zither’s strains
Blend with the pines
I had heard…
The Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to mention. The Left state: the Right’s poem is not bad.
In judgement: both Gentlemen’s ‘zithers’ (koto) appear to be equally elegant, and the Right has a fine final section. The Left seems pleasant in both the initial and latter sections. So, the Left wins.
The Right state: the Left’s poem is preposterous. The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.
In judgement: the Left’s poem seems to be aping the style of the Left in the previous round. As for the Right’s poem, although ‘zithers’ harmony’ (koto no shirabe) sounds modern, it is in a standard style. It should win.
The Right state: saying ‘our zithers’ strings?’ (koto no o ka) is unsatisfactory. The Left state: if one is not depressed, would one not be deeply affected?
In judgement: the Left certainly sounds as if something is out of tune! The Right’s poem says that on hearing the wind pass through the pine trees, one would be affected. It sounds by no means distant from the topic. Thus, the Right wins.
The Right state: the Left’s poem gives the impression of being based on something – but what? The Left state: the Right’s poem has no faults to mention.
In judgement: there is nothing unusual about the Left’s poem. It simply seems to be in the conception of the Man’yōshū poem where, ‘a Japanese zither made from the wood of the parasol tree transforms into a maiden in a dream, and says “When will / The day come that / I shall sing / Making his lap / My pillow?”’ I also have the feeling that it is alluding to the subsequent poem, however. So, it is certainly not the case that it is not based on anything. The Right’s poem has ‘heartstrings are not tugged’ (kokoro no hikanu) and then the metaphorical ‘though I pine for her’ (wa ga matsu ni koso), so is certainly not lacking in conception either. They are equivalent and tie.
In judgement: the Right’s pipes would seem to sound very youthful, indeed! As for the Left, although I feel I have heard such a conception before, because for the life of me I cannot recall where, the style seems tasteful. The Left wins.