Tag Archives: night

Love II: 7

Left (Win).


kuzuragi ya
yoru no chigiri wa
munashiki ni
mono’omou hashi wa
nado ya todaenu
Just as Kuzuragi,
A night’s vow
Is empty, yet
My longing’s end:
Why does it never come?





tanomuru ni
tsuyu no inochi o
kono koto no ha zo
okidokoro naki
Trustworthy for
A dewdrop life’s
Length, but
These words of yours
Will find no place here…

Lord Tsune’ie.


The Gentlemen of the Right state: the Left’s poem contains a significant amount of less than desirable diction. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we have nothing in particular to mention.

Shunzei’s judgement: while the Left’s ‘Why does it never come?’ (nado ya todaenu) is certainly undesirable, the initial section is most tasteful [yū]. The Right’s ‘dewdrop life long’ (tsuyu no inochi o kaku) ‘words’ (koto no ha) seems hackneyed, so still, ‘Kuzuragi Bridge’ should stand as the winner.

Winter II: 21



nagoyaka ga shita wa
kokoro nomi koso
yo o kasanurame
My piled bedding is
Soft, and beneath it
I am lost in thought;
Only those feelings
Come to me night after night…



Right (Win).


itazura ni
akuru yo o nomi
hitori fusuma no
toko zo sabishiki
Dawn breaks night
Time and again;
A single blanket on
My bed is sad, indeed…



Neither Left nor Right has anything to say.

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s ‘piled bedding’ (atsubusuma) is similar in style to the poems of the previous round. The Right’s ‘single blanket’ (hitori fusuma) is a comparable piece of bedding, but the configuration of ‘pointless dawn breaks night’ (itazura ni akuru yo o nomi) is elegantly beautiful [sugata yūbi ni kikoyu]. Thus I make the Right the winner.

Winter II: 10

Left (Win).


suzu no karine ni
shimo saete
matsukaze hayashi
fukenu kono yo wa
Upon Mt Yoshino,
In fitful sleep upon a bed of bamboo,
The frost falls chill, indeed, and
The wind gusts through the pines,
With the fall of night.





shiba no amido wa
kaze sugite
arare yokogiru
matsu no oto kana
On the mountains’ edge
My woven brushwood door
Is pierced by the wind;
Hearing hail blown horizontal
Against the pines…



Both Left and Right are exaggerated in their insistence that the other’s poem lacks any faults.

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s ‘Upon Mt Yoshino, in fitful sleep upon a bed of bamboo’ (yoshinoyama suzu no karine ni) would seem to suggest an ascetic who, having travelled into the mountains, has made himself a hut from bamboo and pillowed upon the tree roots, would it not? But here he seems to have simply cut them down, spread them out and lain upon them! In addition, ‘The wind gusts through the pines’ (matsukaze hayashi) fails to sound elegant [yū ni shi kikoezaru]. The Right, by starting with ‘On the mountains’ edge’ (toyamanaru), suggests that the poet is speaking of his own dwelling’s door in the mountains. ‘Hearing hail blown horizontal against the pines’ (arare yokogiru matsu no oto) also just does not sound appropriate. Both poems have an exaggerated feeling [kotogotoshikaran to wa kokorozashite], and I cannot grasp who they are referring to. However, the Left’s poem is, still, somewhat superior.

Autumn I: 10

Left (Win).


akigoto ni
taenu hoshiai no
sayo fukete
hikari naraburu
niwa no tomoshibi
Each and every autumn,
For the eternal meeting of the stars
Night falls, and
Lights align with
The palace garden lanterns.

Lord Sada’ie.




tsuyu fukai
niwa no tomoshibi
kazu kienu
yo ya fukenuran
hoshiai no sora
Deep dewfall
Upon the garden lanterns
Extinguished a number;
Has night fallen, I wonder,
Upon the sky wherein stars meet?



The Right have no comments to make about the Left’s poem this round, while the Left simply say the Right’s poem has ‘major faults’. (Criticising the use of the completive marker nu twice in quick succession: kienu, fukenuran.)

Shunzei ignores this point, simply saying, ‘The expression “Has night fallen, I wonder, upon the sky wherein stars meet?” (yo ya fukenuran hoshiai no sora) is splendid, but there is no reason for beginning the poem with “deep dewfall” (tsuyu fukaki). The Lefts’ poem has no faults – thus, it must win.’

Autumn I: 8

Left (Win).


kuretake ni
suguru akikaze
sayo fukete
matsuru hodo ni ya
hoshiai no sora
When the black bamboo
Is brushed by autumn breeze, and
Night falls,
Is it time to celebrate?
Stars meeting in the heavens…

Lord Kanemune.




kokonoe ni
kyō matsuru oba
tanabata no
tada hito yo ni mo
ureshi to ya miru
Within the Ninefold Palace walls
This day we celebrate,
The lovers on
Just a single night:
Are they pleased, I wonder?

The Provisional Master of the Empress’ Household Office.


The Right state, ‘“Is it time to celebrate? Stars meeting in the heavens” (matsuru hodo ni ya hoshiai no sora) – the one does not seem to follow from the other. The Left wonder, ‘why we have an annual rite describe as “a single night” (tada hito yo), and not “but one night a year” (toshi ni hito yo)?’

Shunzei merely remarks, ‘“Is it time to celebrate? Stars meeting in the heavens” – this certainly does follow on, and there is nothing wrong with it. The point about “a single night” is well made. The Left wins.’

Summer II: 17

Left (Tie).


nasake zo miyuru
arate kumu
shizu ga soto mo no
yūgao no hana
How natural
To be moved:
Twined roughly round the fence
Outside a peasant’s hut,
Moonflower blooms…



Right (Tie).


yamagatsu no
chigiri no hodo ya
yoru o nomi matsu
yūgao no hana
Is it with the mountain man
Her time is pledged
So secretly?
For the night alone, awaiting,
The moonflower bloom.



The Right state, ‘it is normal diction to say ‘roughly’ (arate) ‘hang’ (kaku). Is it possible to also use ‘twine’ (kumu)?’ In response from the Left, ‘Yes, one can.’ The Left have no criticisms to make of the Right’s poem.

Shunzei states, ‘Both poems are equally lacking in faults or merits. Whether one uses “roughly” twining or hanging, neither is particularly superlative, I think. “Her time is pledged” (chigiri no hodo ya) seems somehow lacking , too. This round must tie.’

Spring III: 3



yūgure ni
omoeba kesa no
asa kasumi
yo o hedatetaru
kokochi koso sure
In the evening
Pondering on the morn’s
Morning mist:
That a night does stand between,
The feeling strikes me strongly.

Lord Ari’ie.


Right (Win).


tsumoreba oshiki
haru no hi o
nodokeki mono to
nani omouramu
Doing this and that
Time passes, so I should regret
These days of spring,
Spent in peaceful
Thought – and for what!

Lord Takanobu.


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

Shunzei states, ‘The Left seem to touch on the topic of the round only distantly, while the Right’s ‘Time passes, so I should regret’ (tsumoreba oshiki) appears particularly splendid. It must be the winner.


Composed during a gentle rain and sent to a woman he had been secretly seeing since the first day of the Third Month.


oki mo sezu
ne mo sede yoru wo
akasite Fa
Faru no mono tote
nagame kurasitu
Not awake and yet
Not sleepless through the night, and
With the dawn
Comes a scene from Spring:
Ever-falling rain to gaze upon all day.

Ariwara no Narihira (825-880)