kesa mireba hagi ominaeshi nabikashite yasashi no nobe no kaze no keshiki ya
This morn when I look out Are the bush clovers and maidenflowers Waving Gently in the fields A vision of wind?
Lord Toshiyori 15
takamado no noji no shinohara sue sawagi sosoya akikaze kyō fukinu nari
At Shinohara in Noji,
Noisy in the treetops
Rustles the autumn wind
As it blows today.
Lord Mototoshi 16
In the Left’s poem, from the phrase ‘bush clovers and maidenflowers’ (hagi ominaeshi) and to the following ‘gently in the fields’ (yashi no nobe) seem singularly unremarkable. In fact, the diction seems so out of place as to be comic. The Right’s poem has an elevated style and charming diction, so one would think it should win, should it not?
The Gentlemen of the Left: the Right’s poem does use the comically forceful diction ‘rustles’ (sosoya).
In judgement: the Left’s ‘waving’ (nabikashite) is an expression giving the poem an extremely idiosyncratic style. The initial section also appears to be lacking in force. As for the Right’s poem, ‘rustles’ (sosoya) is used by Sone no Yoshitada in his poem ‘rustling, the autumn wind has blown’ (sosoya akikaze fukinu nari), so it is not as if there is not a prior example of usage. Thus, it seems to me that the Right’s poem is superior.
The judge, Fujiwara no Mototoshi, is mistaken here, as the poem he is remembering is by Ōe no Yoshitoki 大江嘉言 and can be found in Shikashū (III: 108). Yoshitada is the author of SKS III: 110, however, so it seems he has simply made a mistaken identification of authorship over two poems which are more or less adjacent to each other in that anthology.
Neither team finds any fault with the other’s poem this round and say as much.
Shunzei’s judgement: The Left’s ‘frost’ (shimo) on the ‘arrow-bamboo groves in Noji’ (noji no shinohara) is certainly elegant [yū ni wa haberubeshi]. The Right’s ‘frost fallen on the flowers’ (hana ni oku shimo) is, too; although there is no difference in formal quality [uta no sama wa ikuhodo sabetsu naku] between them, ‘frost fallen on the flowers’ at ‘dawn’ (akebono) is more arresting [midokoro ya haberu] than ‘arrow-bamboo groves’.