natsu no yo no mada mo nenaku ni akenureba kinō kyō tomo omoimadoinu On a summer night, Still sleep has eluded me, When dawn breaks— Is it yet yesterday, or today, I wonder in confusion.
u no hana no sakeru kakine wa shirakumo no ori’iru to koso ayamatarekere Deutzia flowers Are blooming by the brushwood fence— Clouds of white Have descended there, I think— How strange…
sakazaramu mono naranaku ni sakurabana nao mo kage ni nomi madaki miyuramu Wishing not to bloom Will not remain The cherry blossom, but Even so their shape alone Swiftly, I would wish to see!
yamazakura sakinuru toki wa tsune yori mo mine no shirakumo tachimasarikeri When the mountain cherry Has bloomed, Earlier than usual Clouds of white around the peak Do rise spectacularly!
The Left uses ‘wish’
[ii] twice; the Right places the mountain cherries at a distance—that make the round a tie.
[i] This poem is included in Gosenshū (I: 118), with the headnote, ‘A poem from Former Emperor Uda’s Poetry Contest’.
[ii] Uda is objecting to Mitsune’s double usage of the auxiliary verb -ramu in his judgement here.
taenuru to mireba aFinuru sirakumo no ito oFoyoso ni omoFazu mogana Broken do Appear, but soon to arrive are Clouds of white, so Not so very distant Would I have you think me!
The Fifth Princess [Yoriko (Ishi)]
Sent to the place where a lady, who was going somewhere far away, was preparing for departure.
omoFiyaru kokoro bakari Fa saFaradi o nani Fedaturan mine no sirakumo The longing for you In my heart alone Should be no hindrance, but Why do you seem distant as The white clouds round the peaks?
Tachibana no Naomoto
Composed for Her Majesty, to say that this year, she had the liberty to bond with the blossoms.
sirakumo ni magaFu sakura no kodue nite titose no Faru wo sora ni siru kana The clouds, so white Blend with the cherry blossom Treetops— Are a thousand years of springtimes Known in the skies, I wonder!
Chūnagon, in service to Empress Taikenmon’in
From the Poetry Contest in Fifteen Hundred Rounds.
ima wa tote haru no ariake ni chiru hana ya tsuki ni mo oshiki mine no shirakumo Is now the time—that In the spring dawn With the blossom scattering The moon, too, regrets leaving The white clouds round the peaks?
Sanuki from the Nijō Palace
asakage ni wa ga mi wa narinu shirakumo no taete kikoenu hito o kou tote In the morning light I have become A cloud of white that Says, endlessly, that I do love you.
chikakeredo hitome hitome o moru koro wa kumoi harukeki mi to ya narinan Close by, they are, yet When against prying, prying eyes I would be on guard, Completely cloudless Could I appear?
ashihiki no yama no kakehashi fuyu kureba kōri no ue o yoki zo kanetsuru To the leg-wearying Mountain plankways, When the winter comes The ice atop them Is difficult to avoid!
fuyu kureba yuki furitsumoru takaki mine tatsu shirakumo ni miemagau kana When the winter comes The snow fallen, piled high upon The lofty peaks With the rising clouds so white Is easy to confuse!
chiranedomo kanete zo oshiki momijiba wa ima wa kagiri no iro to mitsureba They have not scattered, yet Truly do I regret, that The scarlet leaves Have now reached the limit of Their hues, it seems, so…
shirakumo no ori’iru yado to mietsuru wa furikuru yuki no tokenu narikeri Clouds of white Have descended on my house It seems, so The snow, come falling, Will not melt, at all.
toki no ma ni
shibashi mo hito ni
aimiteshi kana In just a moment
They vanish, wisping:
The white clouds’
O, that I could meet her for so long!
kokoro mo sora ni
kumo ni yado karu
mono’omoi kana Wandering from my breast
My heart within the skies
Has passed the days
Taking lodging in clouds
The focus of my thoughts…
The Supernumerary Master of the Empress Household Office.
The Right state: we find no faults to mention in the Left’s poem. The Left state: the Right’s poem simply re-states a famous creation by another of the Gentlemen of the Right.
In judgement: ‘taking lodging in clouds’ (
kumo ni yado karu) does, indeed, sound most like something I have heard recently. Perhaps it is simply that, having heard a good phrase, the gentleman has reused it. Whatever the facts of the matter, it lacks novelty. The Left’s ‘brief span’ ( shibashi mo hito ni) should win.