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KKS I: 46

A poem from a poetry competition held by Her Majesty, the Empress, during the Kanpyō period.

梅が香を袖にうつしてとどめてば春は過ぐとも形見ならまし

mume ga ka wo
sode ni utusite
todometeba
Faru Fa sugutomo
katami naramasi
If only the plums’ scent
Would shift to my sleeves and
Stay there, then
Even when spring is past and gone
A keepsake would it be…

Anonymous

Love X: 16

Left (Win)
さざ浪や志賀津の海士になりにけりみるめはなくて袖のしほるる

sazanami ya
shigatsu no ama ni
narinikeri
mirume wa nakute
sode no shioruru
Rocked by wavelets
A fisherman at Shiga Bay
Have I become!
Glimpsing no seaweed,
How my sleeves are soaked…

Lord Suetsune
1171

Right
伊勢の海の底までかづく海人なれやみるめに人を思ふ心は

ise no umi no
soko made kazuku
ama nare ya
mirume ni hito o
omou kokoro wa
At Ise, to the sea
Bed dive
Fisher-girls: Am I one, too?
A seaweed-tangled glimpse of you
Lodging in my heart…

Jakuren
1172

The Right state: the Left’s poem has no faults to mention. The Left state: neither beginning nor end is sufficiently forcefully expressed.

In judgement: the conception and configuration of the Left’s ‘fisherman at Shiga Bay’ (shigatsu no ama) certainly seem splendid. That is really all there is to say about this poem. To make a deliberate point of seeking out elements which sound difficult is a pointless activity for the Way of Poetry and an individual poet. As for the Right’s poem, diving ‘to the sea bed’ (soko made) is just something that fisher-girls do. The Left must win.

Love X: 15

Left
藻塩やく海人のまくかたならねども恋のそめきもいとなかりけり

moshio yaku
ama no makuka
tanaranedomo
koi no someki mo
ito nakarikeri
Burning seaweed for salt,
Scattering on the shore are the fisher-girls;
Not just so, but
From the tumult of love
Is there little respite.

Kenshō
1169

Right (Win)
思ひにはたぐひなるべき伊勢の海人も人を恨みぬ袖ぞ濡れける

omoi ni wa
taguinarubeki
ise no ama mo
hito o uraminu
sode zo nurekeru
In thoughts of love
Are we the same:
The diver girls at Ise,
Gazing at bay, with no sight of you
My sleeves are soaked.

Ietaka
1170

The Right state: there is a theory that ‘scattering on the shore’ (ama no makukata) is actually ‘waiting’ (matekata). How should this phrase be correctly be understood here? In response, the Left: the poem was composed from the standpoint that ‘scattering on the shore’ is correct. The Later Selection texts vary between ku and te, but ‘without surcease’ (itoma nami) is an appropriate expression for burning seaweed for salt. In both the Collection of a Myriad Leaves and the Tales of Ise there is the expression ‘ceaseless salt burning (shio yaku itoma nashi). In addition, there is the Ise Priestess Consort’s poem ‘Scattering on the shore, the fisher-girls rake seaweed’, where te would not be suitable. Izumi Shikibu’s poem:

伊勢の海の海人のあまたのまてかたにおりやとるらん浪の花なみ

ise no umi no
ama no amata no
matekata ni
ori ya toruran
nami no hananami
By the sea at Ise
Crowds of fisher-girls
A’waiting
To be plucked –
A row of blossoms on the waves.

is written with te, but ‘crowds of fisher-girls’ seems to suit the conception of burning seaweed. The Right still find fault: in the Muroyama Lay Priest’s Collection in a Tortoiseshell Mirror, Hideaki’s poem is written with mate. In addition, it evokes a scene of evaporation pools, and is there such an activity as scattering salt on the shore? In response: the salt kilns are on the shore. It is they which are scattered. People from the area have told me as much. In addition, mate could mean looking for razor clams (mategai) in the sand. And the girls would not be completely occupied doing this. In response, the Right: that is not the only possible meaning of mate. When the fisher-girls are busy with their work, and have no respite from it, one uses itoma nami. The Left have no criticisms to make of the Right’s poem.

In judgement: the Left’s poem, with the initial ama no makukata, followed by the final section ‘from the tumult of love is there little respite’ (koi no someki mo ito nakarikeri) fails to sound elegant. There should be no confusion over this issue. Lord Hide’aki’s poem in the Later Selection is plainly ‘a diver-girl does wait without surcease’ (ama no matekata itoma nami). On this matter, long ago when I was in attendance upon His Majesty, Emperor Sutoku, he presented me with the commentaries on problematic poems by a certain personage written as he remembered them, and His Majesty asked, ‘People say there are many errors in this text – is this true?’ to which I replied, ‘When it came to making things, there are errors in even those made by the wisest men of old. What you could call imperfect scholarship.’ In the midst of talking about this and that, I mentioned problems in the Later Selection, and that this matekata poem was written maku; I didn’t provide any commentary, just simply said, ‘This is matekata. The fact that there are texts which erroneously write maku have produced some doubt over this,’ and when people later heard that I had said this, his followers got confused and thought I meant maku was correct. ‘Without surcease’ (itoma nami) is particularly suitable for matekata. ‘Waiting’ (matekata) and ‘burning seaweed for salt’ (moshio yaku) are both things which fisher-girls do endlessly – there is no difference between them. Both the Collection of a Myriad Leaves and the Tales of Ise say ‘fisher-girls without surcease’ (ama no itoma nashi). Nowhere does it say ‘scattering’ (makukata). In addition, the shore where they burn seaweed for salt on the beach (hama ni shio yaku kata) bears no resemblance to scattering salt (shio o maku). Moreover, as for the Ise Virgin Consort’s poem, there are many texts which have mate, and any versions of both this anthology and of the Later Selection, too, which have maku are erroneous. There is also a poem in reply to the Consort’s poem ‘Scattered on the shore, / Raking, the fisher-girls gather / Sea-salt weed: / Where does the smoke / Rise to, I ask, my love?’ There are many who argue that this should be maku, but it simply means that the fisher-girls are busy. Matekata and itomanaki koto mean the same thing. In conclusion, we must have regard to the Later Selection poem. Hide’aki has left only a few poems, but was surrounded by poets of peerless talent. Whichever way one looks at it, he was not one to produce an erroneous poem. The Right’s poem has nothing special about it, but as the Left uses ‘from the tumult of love is there little respite’ which sounds old-fashioned and unpleasant, and there is no evidence that makukata is correct, the Right wins.