The Right state: the Left’s poem lacks much of a conception of pleasure girls. In appeal: the poem was written in the conception of Mochitoki’s Chinese poem on pleasure girls ‘the reed-leaves are fresh in springtime’. The Left state: the Right’s poem has nothing worth mentioning.
In judgement: is the conception of pleasure girls really absent from the Left’s ‘parting the reeds, and singing to the moon’ (ashima wake tsuki ni utaite)? The case certainly cannot rely on ‘the reed-leaves are fresh in springtime’. A Chinese poem expresses its topic in its initial line. It is normal for the introduction of the topic to be vague. Japanese and Chinese poetry have aspects where they are similar, and aspects where they differ. Thus, it is not appropriate to cite a Chinese poem’s broaching of its topic as evidence for a Japanese poem’s content. There are certainly other examples by Mochitoki, such as his overlong line in ‘in a boat atop the waves, but I find the same pleasure in life’. The line about reed-leaves can in no way function as proof. Thus this poem, as ‘an old fisherman sings a single shanty’ could be said to be about an old man. As a result, given the lack of clarity in the poem, it is not possible to accept that it is about a pleasure girl. The Right’s poem concludes ‘that moon-sung girl is dear to me, indeed’ (tsuki ni utaishi imo zo koishiki). The final line seems to be almost pointlessly pedestrian, but the poem is certainly about love for a pleasure girl. The Right must win.
The Gentlemen of the Right state: saying simply ‘dusk’ (tasogare) when it should be ‘the hour of dusk’ (tasogare toki) sounds somewhat strange. The Gentlemen of the Left state: the Right’s poem is composed to recall the Kokinshū’s ‘A mountain cherry through the drifting mists’ (yamazakura kasumi no ma yori), but is inferior to the original.
Shunzei’s judgement: in regard to the Left’s poem, it is certainly the case that, even without the ‘hour’, ‘in the dusk’ is a standard expression. The Right’s poem sounds old-fashioned. The Left, though, does not sound unpleasant, even though its mentioning of ‘never will I forget’ (wasurezu yo) recollects ‘a tiled kiln’. It should win.