Both Gentlemen state: the poems are based on ‘The Song of the Lute’ and have no faults to mention.
In judgement: both the Left and the Right are based on ‘The Song of the Lute’ and the Left, beginning with ‘late on in the year’ (toshi fukaki) is pleasant, but ‘that he cares not at their parting’ (wakare oshimanu) and what follows seems rather insufficient, in addition to simply seeming to recall Xunyang River and lack a conception of the poet’s own love. The Right has ‘in ignorance of our parting’ (wakare o shiranu), while ‘bring folk to ask me why’ (hito wa toikeri) also has a slight conception that the lady has not asked why either. Thus, the Right should win.
Both Left and Right together state: neither poem is bad.
In judgement: both poems seem elegant in configuration and diction, but the Right’s ‘girl from Naniwa’ (naniwame) raises the same issue as ‘diving girl’, only more so – there is not even evidence on this from inclusion in the Collection of Poems to Sing, is there? The Left’s ‘cleaving, they return; pillowed on the waves’ (yosete wa kaeru namimakura) really does seem like a pleasure girl, so I must say it is superior.
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: we wonder about the appropriateness of ‘my breast and sleeves both are raucous’ (mune to sode to ni sawagu)? The Left, in appeal, state: there is ‘the river-mouths of my sleeves’ (sode no minato) and ‘when I think, upon my breast’ (omoeba mune ni) so linking ‘breast’ and ‘sleeve’ is entirely uncontroversial. The Gentlemen of the Left state: we find no faults to mention in the Right’s poem.
In judgement: I understand the views of the Left’s poem held by both teams. It has also been said that the Right’s poem lacks faults. However, in ‘seeking a mate, a plover cries at night’ (tsuma motomu tote chidori naku yo o) only the two words ‘at night’ (yo o) have any conception of love. The remainder of the poem is simply about plovers, so there is little of love about it. ‘Breast and sleeves both’ (mune to sode to) should win.