Tag Archives: Sosei

KKS II: 114

Composed when it was said that a poetry competition was to be held at the residence of the Middle Captain Lady of the Bedchamber in the Ninna period.[1]


oshi to omoFu
kokoro Fa ito ni
tiru Fana goto ni
nukite todomemu
If regrets
Within my heart should into threads
Be spun, then
Through every scattered blossom
Would I sew to hold them here…


[1] It was taboo to record the personal names of noble women of high rank unless they were made empress. The Ninna 仁和 period began on the 11th day of the Third Month, 885, and lasted until the 30th day of the Fifth Month, 889. ‘Lady of the Bedchamber’ (miyasudokoro 御息所) was a title given to imperial consorts who had given birth to a prince, while ‘Middle Captain’ (chūjō 中将) was a military position in the palace guards. Contemporary readers would have been able to identify who the ‘Lady who had given birth to an imperial prince and whose father held the position of Middle Captain during the Ninna period’ was, but modern scholarship has not done so; nor have records of this poetry competition survived.

KKS II: 95

When he had gone to the northern hills to view the blossom, he sent this to the residence of the Un’rin-in Prince.[1]


iza keFu Fa
Faru no yamabe ni
kurenaba nage no
Fana no kage ka Fa
So, on this day
Into the springtime mountains
Let us tread!
For even should dusk fall, brief
Would the blossoms glow be? Surely not!


[1] Imperial Prince Tsuneyasu 常康親王 (?-869), the seventh son of Emperor Ninmyō.

KKS I: 37

Topic unknown.


yoso ni nomi
aFare to zo misi
ume no Fana
akanu iroka Fa
Simply at a distance
Did their sight move me, but that
Of Plum blossoms’
Hue and scent, I never can be sated
I know now I have plucked them!

The Monk Sosei

Chūjō miyasudokoro uta’awase

Composed when it was said that a poetry competition was to be held at the residence of the Ninna Middle Captain Lady of the Bedchamber.

Fana no tiru
koto ya wabisiki
tatuta no yama no
uguFisu no kowe
The falling of the flowers
Is sad, indeed;
In the spring haze
On Tatsuta Mountain
A warbler cries…

Fujiwara no Chikage


Composed when it was said that a poetry competition was to be held at the residence of the Ninna Middle Captain Lady of the Bedchamber.

osi to omoFu
kokoro Fa ito ni
tiru Fana goto ni
nukite todomemu
A regretful
Heart with threads
Does seem to be entangled;
Every single scattered bloom
Will I thread on them to keep.



Spring II: 6

Left (Tie)


mina hito no
haru no kokoro no
narenuru nobe no
hana no kage kana
Everyone who
Loves the springtime
Come to
These familiar fields and rest
‘Neath the blossoms’ shade!

Lord Sada’ie.


Right (Tie)


soko tomo iwazu
hana no yado kase
nobe no uguisu
My friends,
Heedless of our place
Has darkness fallen:
Lend us your lodging ‘mongst the blooms,
O, warbler, in the fields!



Neither side has any comments to make about these two poems.

Shunzei says both poems possess a ‘scintillating beauty’, but wonders whether the Right’s hasn’t borrowed too heavily from the Monk Sosei’s poem:

Composed as a Spring Poem

Faru no yamabe ni
soko tomo iFanu
tabine sitesika
My friends,
In springtime in the mountain meadows
Did we gather,
Heedless of our place,
Wanted we to sleep out on our trip!

KKS II: 126

However, using the variation to borrow lodging from a warbler is, indeed, ‘scintillating’ and neither poems ‘sounds the least bit old-fashioned’. Hence, the round must be a tie.