Tag Archives: shiranami

KYS V: 313

Composed on the conception of Felicitation for a poetry competition held by the Kokiden Consort during the reign of Emperor Go-ichijō.


kimi ga yo Fa
suwe no matuyama no
Farubaru to
kosu siranami no
kazu mo shirarezu
Your Majesty’s reign:
Upon the pine-clad peak of Sué,
So distant
Break whitecaps
In numbers unknown to all!

The Monk Eisei

SKKS I: 35

Composed on evening haze.


nago no umi no
kasumi no ma yori
iru hi o arau
oki tsu shiranami
At the sea at Nago
Between the hazy gaps
I gaze:
Bathed by the setting sun
Are the whitecaps in the offing.

The Gotokudaiji Minister of the Left
[Fujiwara no Sanesada 藤原実定]

MYS XVII: 3989

A poem composed when Senior Clerk Hata no Imiki presented a farewell banquet to Governor Ōtomo, Lord Yakamochi at the Yachishima residence.


nago no umi no
oki tu siranami
sikusiku ni
omopoemu ka mo
At the sea of Nago
The whitecaps in the offing
So clearly
Would I remember
When I am gone from here…

Ōtomo no Yakamochi

Spring I: 18

Left (Tie).


ko no ma yori
hikage ya hana o
matsu no iwane no
mizu no shiranami
Between the trees,
The sunlight these blooms
Does seem to drench:
The pine-rooted crags’
White-capped waves of water.

A Servant Girl


Right (Tie).


haru kureba
kōri o harau
tanikaze no
oto ni zo tsuzuku
yamakawa no mizu
Spring is come, so
Sweeping ‘way the ice,
The wind through the valley
Brings a constant sound:
Water in the mountain streams.



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

Shunzei comments that both poems sound ‘excellent’, but the Left’s begins ‘between the trees’ (ko no ma yori) and then continues to mention ‘pines’: are the ‘trees’ pines? Or, are they a different type? Whichever is the case, this is, perhaps, a ‘compositional error’. As for the Right’s poem, the expression, ‘sweeping ‘way the ice/The wind through the valley’ (kôri o harau/tanikaze no) is ‘charming’, but he ‘greatly dislikes’ the use of tsuzuku. (It’s unclear why he says this, as he gives no further explanation: the commentators suggest that it could be that the word is too conventional, or that it was generally considered more attractive in poetry to have something ending, rather than continuing, or simply that he didn’t like the way the poem was read out on this occasion!) Given that both poems are ‘equally excellent’ , and that the Left is ‘unclear’ over its trees, a tie has to be awarded.

Spring I: 17



yamakawa no
kōri no kusabi
ishi ni kudakuru
mizu no shiranami
The mountain stream’s
Icy wedges
Are melting;
Broken on the rocks
In white-capped waves of water.

Lord Ari’ie


Right (Win).


harukaze ni
shita yuku nami no
kazu miete
nokoru tomonaki
usukōri kana
With the breath of spring,
Flowing beneath, waves
In numbers can be seen;
Hardly any remains – just
A coating of ice.



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

Shunzei remarks that the opening of the Left’s poem seems ‘old-fashioned’ (and hence is cliched). The conclusion is splendid, but would have been improve by the substitution of ‘crags’ (iwa) for ‘rocks’ (ishi). The Right’s poem, in the spirit of clarifying the numbers of waves of water flowing under a thin sheet of ice, ‘seems exceptional’, and so the latter poem is ‘slightly superior.’