Tag Archives: niwa

Winter I: 8



itsu shika to
utsurou iro no
miyuru kana
yae no shiragiku
All at once
Your colours change
I see;
What a flower’s heart you have,
Eightfold chrysanthemum!

Lord Suetsune.


Right (Win).


hana naranu
nioi mo nochi wa
naki mono wo
niwa no shiragiku
Flowers are there none,
But a trace of scent
Of what’s gone
Leave trailed behind,
O, garden chrysanthemums!



The Right remark that the Left’s poem, ‘seems overly humorous’ [tawabure ni nitari]. The Left counter by wondering, ‘Whether it really is possible to separate flower and scent?’

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s poem, even though it has a ‘flower’s heart’ (hanagokoro) ‘changing’ (utsurou), seems to lack the conception of a poem on ‘lingering chrysanthumums’ [zangiku no kokoro sukunaku kikoyuru ni ya]. As for the Right’s poem, although it is true that flower and scent are not separate, there are poems composed on plum blossom, such as ‘The plum blossoms’/Scent, disturbingly,/Clings to my sleeves’ or ‘Leave behind your scent, at least’, so ‘a trace of scent’ (nioi mo nochi wa) does not seem to be a fault. ‘Leave trailed behind’ (utsuroinokore), too, is not unpleasant [yoroshikarazaru ni arazu]. The Right should win.

Winter I: 4



yamazato wa
kozue sabishiku
arashi no oto mo
niwa no kareba ni
In a mountain home
The treetops, desolately,
Are completely bare;
The storm-wind’s sound
Is in my garden’s withered leaves…

Lord Ari’ie.


Right (Win).


ko no ha chiru
toyama no kure o
sode ni arashi no
koe zo kudakuru
All the leaves are fallen, as
Through the distant mountain’s dusk
I make my way;
Upon my sleeves, the storm-wind’s
Cry is shattered.



The Right state that the Left’s poem ‘seems superficially appealing, but actually has nothing remarkable about it.’ The Left question how the poet can ‘make his way through the dusk’ (kure o wakeyuku) and ‘shatter’ (kudakuru) the wind.

Shunzei’s judgment: The lower section of the Left’s poem is charming [okashiku koso haberu], but the initial section is frequently used, and old fashioned [tsune no furugoto nite]. The Right’s shattering of the wind in ‘the distant mountains’ dusk’ is a questionable expression [obotsukanaki yō], but the Left’s initial section really does sound as if it lacks any artistry [muisugite kikoyu]. The Right’s total effect is most fine [sugata yoroshiku miehaberi]. It should win.

Winter I: 3



nagame mo utsuru
niwa no iro yo
nani o kozue no
fuyu ni nokosan
A slight regret I feel, as
My gaze shifts
With the garden’s hues;
What of the treetops
Will remain in winter?

Lord Sada’ie.




momiji kakiwake
iro sae fukaki
yamaji narikeri
Fallen in drifts,
Forging through the scarlet leaves
I come, and see
The depth of colour laid
Upon the mountain paths.

Lord Takanobu.


The Right state that the Left’s poem is lacking in conception [kokoro yukazu]. The Left respond that the Right’s poem, as in the previous round, is old-fashioned in both conception and diction [kokoro kotoba onaji yō ni furumekashi].

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s poem does seem to have some conception about it, despite the Right’s criticism of this as lacking. Although the Right’s ‘depths of colour’ (iro sae fukaki) appears easy to grasp, again, the round should tie.

Autumn III: 22



mushi no ne no
yowaru mo shiruku
asajū ni
kesa wa samukeku
hadare shimo furu
The insects’ cries
Have plainly weakened;
Cogon grass, where
On this chilly morning
Patchy frost has fallen.

Lord Ari’ie.




omou yori
mata aware wa
tsuyu ni shimo oku
niwa no yomogyū
I feel
Yet more sadness
Laid upon me:
Upon the dew has frost fallen
In my tangled mugwort garden…



The Right find no fault with the Left’s poem. The Left wonder about the appropriateness of ‘upon the dew has frost fallen’ (tsuyu ni shimo oku).

The Right respond, ‘This refers to when frost falls upon something where dew has already fallen.’ In reply, the Left say, ‘Surely, it is when both of them fall together. We do wonder about frost falling on top of dew.’

Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s poem has an unclear link between its initial and final sections. On the matter of the Right’s ‘frosty dew’, this has the same sense as in the Right’s poem in the previous round. The dew has frozen into frost, surely? However, as the Left’s poem is not worthy of a victory, the round must tie.

Autumn III: 6

Left (Win).


utsu no yama
koeshi mukashi no
ato furite
tsuta no kareba ni
akikaze zo fuku
Utsu Mountain,
Crossed in times of old by
Ruins, ageing; on
The withered ivy leaves
The winds of autumn are a’blowing…

A Servant Girl.




asaji tatsu
niwa no iro dani
aru mono o
nokiba no tsuta wa
The cogon-grass grows
In my garden, but the only hint of colour
Is in
The ivy by my eaves,
Wet with constant showers…



As the previous round.

Shunzei’s judgement: Both Left and Right seem superb in form and diction [sugata kotoba wa yoroshiku miehaberu], but the Right’s ‘cogon-grass grows’ (asaji tatsu) is pretentious [yauyaushiku], and I wonder what to make [ikaga to oboehaberu] of the final ‘wet with constant showers’ (uchishiguretsutsu), but the conception [kokoro] of the Left’s ‘Utsu Mountain’, with its ‘ancient ruins’ brought back to memory by ‘on the withered ivy leaves the winds of autumn a’blowing’, is particularly tasteful [en]. Thus, the Left certainly wins.

Autumn II: 5

Left (Win).


kohagi ga moto no
niwa no ame o
koyoi wa ogi no
ue ni kiku kana
Falling with the darkness
To the solitary bush-clover’s roots
The rain within my garden
Tonight, on the silver grass
I hear.

A Servant Girl.




ogiwara ya
nobe no aki kaze
sue wakete
sabishisa souru
murasame no koe
Silver grass meadows –
Across the fields the autumn wind
Brushes the fronds;
Adding loneliness to
The whisper of showers…

Lord Takanobu.


The Right say, ‘In the Left’s poem, it sounds as if the rain falls in daytime on “the solitary bush-clover’s roots” (kohagi ga moto) and at night “on the silver grass” (ogi no ue).’ The Left have no criticisms of the Right’s poem.

Shunzei judges, ‘I see no fault in saying that the “rain falling with the darkness” (furikurasu ame) is something one can see on the bush clover’s roots during the day, but only hear at night. As for the Right, “Across the fields the autumn wind brushes the fronds” (nobe no aki kaze sue wakete) is superb in construction. In the final line “whisper of showers” (murasame no koe) , though, “whisper” is an excessively direct personalisation, is it not? The spirit of the Left’s “on the silver grass” must win.”

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.’

Summer I: 11

Left (Tie).


natsuyama no
kusaba no take zo
haru mishi komatsu
hito hikazu wa
Summer in the mountains, and
The grasses reach so high, that
Had they but known
In springtime, on the glimpsed pine-seedlings
Folk would have laid no hand…

Lord Sada’ie.


Right (Tie).


michi mo naki
natsuno no kusa no
iori kana
hana ni kegaruru
niwa to mishi ma ni
Within a trackless
Summer field does my grass
Hut stand now;
While on fallen blossom staining
My garden did I rest my gaze…



The Right wonder, ‘Whether summer greenery recalls the mountains as much as it does the plains? The overall point of the poem seems difficult to grasp.’ The Left have no particular comments to make.

Shunzei states, ‘The gentlemen of the Right have already questioned the suitability of greenery in relation to mountains rather than the plains. In addition, what is one to make of blossom falling round a hut, as opposed to a mountain lodge. If the topic was “Field Lodges”, then there are some autumn blooms, but cherry and plum blossom, and the like, fail to fall that much on the plains. Thus, I would agree with the Right’s comments on the Left’s poem. The Right’s poem, though, lacks logic. The round must be a tie.’

Summer I: 10



natsu kite zo
nonaka no io wa
mado tojitekeri
noki no shitagusa
Summer has come, and
Out upon the plains, the hut
Has gone to ruin –
Windows sealed by
Grasses growing ‘neath the eaves.

Lord Ari’ie.


Right (Win).


wa ga yado no
yomogi ga niwa wa
fukashi dare
wakeyo to ka
uchi mo harawan
My dwelling’s
Garden is all overgrown
Deep as deep can be, but
With no-one to force a passage through
I’ll not sweep it back!

Lord Takanobu.


The Right have no criticisms to make of the Left’s poem. The Left, though, wonder, ‘What is the meaning of “sweep” (uchiharau) in relation to a garden?’

Shunzei comments: ‘The poems of both Left and Right are superb in configuration and diction [sugata kotoba yū ni haberi]. However, the Left, by saying “gone to ruin” (aremasaru) about a hut on the plains, gives the impression it is talking about the beginning of winter, just after the end of autumn. Furthermore, the poem also gives the impression of being composed on the topic of “Field Lodges” (notei). As for the Right, it is certainly possible to sweep away an overgrown garden, as well as the dust from one’s bed, so I see no problems with this usage. Saying “summer’s deep” is by no means unpleasant. The Right wins.”

Summer I: 6



hana wa chirinu
ika ni iite ka
hito matan
tsuki dani moranu
niwa no kozue ni
The blossoms all are fallen, and
What am I to say?
Does it await folk visiting?
The moonlight, leaving untouched
The treetops in my garden…

A Servant Girl.


Right (Win).


haru fukaki
nobe no keshiki to
mishi hodo ni
midori wa yado no
kozue narikeri
Spring lay deep
Across the fields
I saw, and then
The green was on my lodgings’



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

Shunzei states, ‘Both of these poems are superlative in configuration and diction [sugata kotoba tomo ni yū], but the Left’s “await folk visiting” (hito matan) seems slightly unsatisfying. The Right’s “green on my lodgings” (midori wa yado no) gives it a slight edge in configuration [sutata sukoshi wa masarubeku], and so it should win.”