In the year after that in which the Teishi Emperor relinquished the throne, he held a maidenflower match, making no instruction as to who should lead the teams of the Left and Right, so His Majesty and Her Majesty, the Empress, fulfilled those roles.
kusagakure aki suginubeki ominaeshi nioi yue ni ya mazu mienuramu
Hidden ‘mongst the grasses Has she spent the autumn, This maidenflower— Is it for her glow that She is soon discovered?
The Gentlemen of the Right. These, too, had the sons of the Courtiers Fujiwara no Shigetoki and Hirokage, the Governor of Awa, construct an extremely large suhama upon which all the chrysanthemums were grown together; because the area was cramped when they brought it in, they made preparation to bring it in all at once, attaching wheels to sections, thinking to do it in one, but were startled by the Gentlemen of the Left bringing in their blooms one by one – when all were brought in and assembled together, they made a single charming spectacle, yet though assembled, they were separated and thus seemed incomplete. The initial poem became mixed in with all the others.
irinisi mi wo zo
kiku no nioFi ni
Deep within the mountains
Have I entered in;
The chrysanthemums’ scent
Brought me to my ease.
The Chrysanthemum Match during the reign of the Kanpyō Emperor.
The Gentlemen of the Left. For the chrysanthemum in the initial round, Kotategimi, a young courtier lad, was dressed as a woman, and brought in the flower, hiding his face with it. A further nine blooms were planted in a suhama. The form of the suhama was certainly very charming. The chrysanthemums had their names written on long strips of paper, which were twined about them in places to show them to their best advantage.
Initial Round: a chrysanthemum from Minase in Yamazaki
uchituke ni minase Fa nioFi masareru wori Fito kara ka Fana no tune kamo
Suddenly Minase, with scent Superb is filled – Is it from a lady there, or Are the blooms ever so?
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).
The Right state that the Left’s poem has nothing to do with lingering chrysanthemums in its initial part, and the concluding section is incomprehensible [kokoroegatashi]. The Left merely remark that the Right’s ‘snow piles against my fence’ (yuki no mase) sounds poor [kikiyokarazu].
Shunzei’s judgement: The gentleman of the Right states that ‘the Left’s poem has nothing to do with lingering chrysanthemums’ – this really isn’t the case, is it? Even superficially, this is not true [omote naki ni wa arazu].However, I am unable to accept ‘look’ (irogao) as appropriate diction. In the Right’s poem, ‘snow piles against my fence’ (yuki no mase), again, charmingly and especially reflects the conception of lingering chrysanthemums [zangiku no kokoro mo koto ni miete okashiku koso mie]. In general, hearing both sides complaining that the other’s poems ‘sound poor’ or ‘grate upon the ear’ is itself unpleasant to hear. The Right wins.
The Right have no criticisms to make of the Left’s poem. The Left state that there does not seem to be the conception of ‘lingering’ in the Right’s poem. In response, the Right say, ‘By the use of “even” (made) one can understand that the chrysanthemums’ hues have shifted as well. The use of “shift” (utsurou) expresses the conception of lingering [nokori no kokoro nari].
Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s ‘Even the chrysanthemums’ hues’ (kiku sae iro o) seems most fine [yoroshiku koso haberumere]. The Right, too, with its ‘chrysanthemums’ scent’ (kiku no nioi) is particularly splendid [fukaku yū ni wa haberubeshi]. On the matter of the conception of lingering chrysanthemums [nokori no kiku no kokoro], the Right have said that ‘using “even the scent” expresses the conception of lingering’, which is true enough, but is it not that the scent has shifted to the poet’s sleeves, even though the flowers are chrysanthemums? Thus, the conception of a shift of hue must be somewhat weak [utsurou kokoro wa nao sukunakarubeku]. In any case, the Left’s conception of lingering is certainly stronger. The Left wins.