One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets

Poem 91


naku ya shimoyo no

   samushiro ni

koromo katashiki

hitori ka mo nemu


   On a frosty night

with the crickets chirping,

   am I to spread out

a sleeve on this cold straw mat

and sleep here by myself?

-- Fujiwara no Yoshitsune


The source is the second “Autumn” book of the Shinkokinshū (SKT 518). Fujiwara no Yoshitsune (1169 – 1206), the second son of Regent Fujiwara no Kanezane (1149 – 1207), composed the kana preface of the Shinkokinshū. The actual attribution in the Hyakunin isshu uses the appellation Gokyōgoku sesshō saki no daijōdaijin: Gokyoku Regent and Former Minister of State.

Like the previous waka, this is an example of honkadori, although here two earlier waka are involved: Poem 3 by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro, from the Shūishū, and an anonymous waka in the Kokinshū (SKT 689) about the Maiden of Uji Bridge waiting for her lover. There may also be an allusion to a verse in the Man’yoshū (SKT 1696) that contains an identical last two measures. The Japanese word for “straw mat” is homophonous with the word for “cold,” so this kakekotoba is the second poetic device at work in the waka. The situation might be envisioned as someone living alone in a mountain village or perhaps spending the night at an inn while traveling: despite the reference to sleeping alone -- and despite the classification of the Kokinshū source as a love poem -- the focus in the Shinkokinshū is more on the lonesomeness of the season than on the loneliness of a lover, even if the suggestion of the latter remains.

Literal rendition and notes
  • Measure 1:  cricket (the Japanese words for "cricket" and "grasshopper" have reversed meaning over time)
  • Measure 2:  chirp | ! | frosty-night | 's
  • Measure 3:  coldness + straw-mat | on
  • Measure 4:  clothing | spreading-out-one-side (that is, the man lays out one of his sleeves as a pillow)
  • Measure 5:  one-person | ? | ! | will-sleep

Poem 92

  wa ga sode wa

shiohi ni mienu

   oki no ishi no

hito koso shirane

kawaku ma mo nashi


   My sleeves, like rocks

submerged in the offing

   even at ebb tide,

go unnoticed by any

and have no time to dry.

-- Nijōin no Sanuki


The source is the second “Love” book of the Senzaishū (SKT 760). Sanuki (1141? – 1217?) was the daughter of Minamoto no Yorimasa (1104 – 1180) and served Empress Ninshi (1174 – 1238), the wife of both Emperor Nijō (1143 – 1165; r. 1158 – 1165) and Emperor Go-Toba (see Poem 99).

This is the last in a short series of three waka that focuses on the image of kimono sleeves, and the second poem in a row to rely on the allusive technique of honkadori, evident in the close rewording of an original in the Izumi Shikibu shū (for Izumi Shikibu, see Poem 56). The second and third measures of the Japanese original function as a descriptive jokotoba prefacing the more subjective reflections of the last two measures. The poet likely intends the “any” to refer not just to people generally but to one person in particular -- the one in whom she has a romantic interest.

Literal rendition and notes
  • Measure 1:  I | 's | sleeve | as-for
  • Measure 2:  ebb-tide | at | not-be-seen
  • Measure 3:  offing | 's | rock | (subj.)
  • Measure 4:  person | ! | though-not-know (the "koso...shirane" combination implies a contrast with the following measure)
  • Measure 5:  to-dry | time-period | ! | not-be

Poem 93

   yononaka wa

tsune ni mogamo na

   nagisa kogu

ama no obune no

tsunade kanashi mo


   Would that the world might

forever remain the same!

   The tow ropes trailing

from the little fishing boats

along the coast seem so sad.

-- Minister of the Right from Kamakura


The source is the “Travel” book of the Shinchokusenshū (SKT 525). Minamoto no Sanetomo (1192 – 1219) was the second son of Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147 – 1199) and the third shōgun of the Kamakura bakufu. He was assassinated by his nephew Kugyō at the Tsuraoka Hanchimangū shrine in Kamakura.

There are two allusions to earlier poems that inform the waka's meaning, illustrating the honkadori technique. One is the reference to a verse in the Man'yōshū (SKT 22) in which the poet explicitly wishes for things to remain unchanged. The other refers to a poem in the Kokinshū (SKT 1088) which remarks on the sadness inspired by the sight of towlines trailing behind boats in Shiogama Bay (present-day Matsushima Bay in Miyagi Prefecture). That the same sight would have been visible on the coast of Kamakura establishes a connection with the fate of Sanetomo (who studied waka composition with Teika). The nikugire technique is evident in the semantic break at the end of the second measure, neatly separating the two allusions so they can be synthesized through juxtaposition.

Literal rendition and notes
  • Measure 1:  world | as-for
  • Measure 2:  eternal | may-it-be-so | !
  • Measure 3:  coastline | ply
  • Measure 4:  fisher | 's | small-boat | 's
  • Measure 5:  tow-rope | moving | !

Poem 94

   Mi-yoshino no

yama no akikaze

   sayo fukete

furusato samuku

koromo utsu nari


   The autumn wind blows

through the mountains of fair Yoshino

   late into the night,

the fulling block echoing coldly

where our sovereigns once held sway.

--Consultant Masatsune


The source is the second “Autumn” book of the Shinkokinshū (SKT 483). Fujiwara no Masatsune (1170 – 1221) was one of the compilers of the Shinkokinshū.

Yoshino, in present-day Nara Prefecture ("mi-" is a beautifying prefix), was the site of a detached palace built in the 8th century (possibly preceded by others) to which early Japanese emperors frequently repaired. By the time of the Kokinshū, the region had acquired connotations of desolation and distant imperial glory. This is another honkadori poem, based on a waka in the “Winter” book of the Kokinshū (SKT 325) about the freezing cold of Yoshino when it lies buried under deep snow. The season has been transposed to autumn and the visual image of snow replaced by the conventionally desolate sound of the fulling block, which is carried on the wind.

Literal rendition and notes
  • Measure 1:  fair-Yoshino | 's
  • Measure 2:  mountain | 's | autumn-wind
  • Measure 3:  night | deepening
  • Measure 4:  onetime-home | cold (the implications of "home" depend in this case on historical circumstance)
  • Measure 5:  clothing | be-beaten

Poem 95


ukiyo no tami ni

   ōu kana

wa ga tatsu soma ni

sumizome no sode


   Unworthy as I am,

I shall raise a cover to protect

   those of this mournful world.

For I now live on Mount Hiei

in a robe with sleeves dyed black.

-- Former Archbishop Jien


The source is the second “Miscellaneous” book of the Senzaishū (SKT 1137). Jien (1155 – 1225) was the son of Fujiwara no Tadamichi (see Poem 76) and the author of the historical treatise Gukanshō.

A new priest is announcing his resolve to make good use of the saving grace of Buddha: he figuratively declares that he will use his new status (symbolized by his black sleeves) to protect the ordinary inhabitants of this world through prayer. To convey this presumably self-referential message, Jien has employed a number of rhetorical techniques: a semantic break after the third measure (sankugire); wordplay involving the kakekotoba sumizome to refer to both sleeves that have been "dyed ink-black” and his “newly started life” as a priest on Mount Hiei; the associations between the words sode (“sleeve”) and ōu (“cover”) that make them engo; and the implied grammatical inversion, or tōchi-hō, of displacing sumizome no sode from its expected position as the object of the verb ōu (that is, "use sleeves of my robe to protectively cover"; it is an implied inversion because the accusative particle o is missing from the end of the fifth measure). Moreover, there is a honkadori allusion to a Shinkokinshū poem (SKT 1920, a shakkyō, or poem on Siikyamuni's teachings) supposedly composed by Saichō (767 – 822) when he built the main hall of the Enryakuji, headquarters of the Tendai sect on Mount Hiei, in which he invokes the various Buddhas' protection (soma refers to a mountain that serves as a source of timber for temples and palaces; by extension, the reference here is to Mount Hiei).

Literal rendition and notes
  • Measure 1:  presumptuously
  • Measure 2:  wretched-world | 's | populace | on
  • Measure 3:  spread-over | !
  • Measure 4:  I | (subj.) | stand-upon | lumber-mountain | on
  • Measure 5:  black-dyed + starting-to-live | 's | sleeves

Poem 96

   hana sasō

arashi no niwa no

   yuki narade

furiyuku mono wa

wa ga mi narikeri


   A gale strewing

pink blossoms in my garden

   instead of snow--

the years, too, have settled on me

one upon the other.

-- The Lay Priest Formerly Minister of State


The source is the first “Miscellaneous” book of the Shinchokusenshū (SKT 1052). Fujiwara no Kintsune (1171 – 1244) was the brother-in-law of Fujiwara no Teika (see Poem 97) and one of the most powerful men at court after the Jōkyū Disturbance of 1221.

Both the mountain gale and the blossoms are personifications (the gale is “enticing” the blossoms into the garden): the gijinhō technique. The kakekotoba furiyuku pivots the meaning from “continue to fall” to “continue to age.” Finally, cherry blossoms are being compared to snow: the likening technique of mitate. The picturesque description of cherry blossoms thickly scattered in a garden gives way to a more somber reflection on the passage of time; that the beauty of the garden requires the scattering of the blossoms establishes a poignant thematic link between the two parts of the waka.

Literal rendition and notes
  • Measure 1:  blossoms | invite
  • Measure 2:  gale | 's | garden
  • Measure 3:  snow | not-being
  • Measure 4:  keep-falling + keep-aging | thing | as-for
  • Measure 5:  I | 's | self | be!

Poem 97

   konu hito o

Matsuho-no-ura no

   yūnagi ni

yaku ya moshio no

mi mo kogaretsutsu


   I wait for one who

does not come, and like seaweed

   burned for salt in

the dusky calm of Matsuho Bay,

I am constantly scorched by flames.

-- Provisional Middle Counselor Teika


The source is the third “Love” book of the Shinchokusenshū (SKT 849). Fujiwara no Teika (or Sadaie, 1162 – 1241) was the son of Fujiwara no Shunzei (or Toshinari, see Poem 83). Besides the Ogura Hyakunin isshu, he played a leading role in compiling the Shinkokinshū and also compiled the Shinchokusenshū. The headnote in the source dates the waka to a poetry contest held in the palace in 1218, but Teika's private Shūi gusō (Gleanings from Humble Scribbles) collection more reliably gives the date as 1216.

The poet has assumed the persona of a woman waiting in vain for her lover to come. Matsuho Bay is located at the northernmost point of Awaji Island in the Seto Inland Sea off of Kōbe. A place name, it also incorporates the familiar kakekotoba matsu, a homonym for “to wait.” The second and third measures constitute a descriptive jokotoba used to “introduce” the image of searing passion. “Burn,” “seaweed salt,” and “scorch” are related words, or engo. There is also an allusion to a poem in Book 6 of the Man’yōshū (SKT 940) that describes the burning of seaweed for salt at Matsuho Bay: the honkadori technique. The language does seem a bit overwrought, but one would hesitate to gainsay the foremost (or at least most influential) poet of the day.

Literal rendition and notes
  • Measure 1:  not-come | person | (acc.)
  • Measure 2:  wait + Matsuho Bay | 's
  • Measure 3:  evening-calm | in (the sense of the first three measures is "as I wait in the evening calm of Matsuho Bay for one who does not come")
  • Measure 4:  burn | ! | seaweed-salt | 's
  • Measure 5:  oneself | also | keep-smoldering

Poem 98

   kaze soyugu

Nara-no-ogawa no

   yūgure wa

misogi zo natsu no

shirushi narikeru


   In the evening,

as the oaks rustle in the breeze

   at the Nara stream,

the purification rite

remains a sign of summer.

-- Ietaka, Junior Second Rank


The source is the “Summer” book of the Shinchokusenshū (SKT 192). Fujiwara no Ietaka (1158 – 1237), here identified by his court rank, was one of the compilers of the Shinkokinshū.

The purification rite at the Nara stream -- a segment of the Mitarashi River that runs through Upper Kamo Shrine in Kyoto and takes its name from the surrounding oak (nara) trees -- was held on the last day of the lunar Sixth Month and served as an occasion for participants to wash away the defilements of the first half of the year. The waka first sets a scene more appropriate to autumn: a peaceful evening with the breeze blowing through the leaves. Then, in the last two measures, the reader is reminded by mention of the annual purification ceremony that summer has not yet passed: we are actually only on autumn's cusp. The poet, in other words, is giving expression to a sensibility that goes beyond simply dividing the year into four distinct seasons. The description is a mediated one, however, since the headnote in the source explains that the poem was composed to complement a scene painted on folding screen being brought into the palace by an incoming imperial consort (in this case,Teika's daughter Shunshi, in 1229).

As noted above, the waka contains an untranslatable kakekotoba play on words in the form of nara/Nara, which refers both to oak trees and to the stream flowing through them. This is also the last in a nearly uninterrupted series of verses, beginning with Poem 90, that constitute allusive variations of earlier waka (the honkadori technique). The allusions here are to poems on "Nara" in the Kokinrokujō (Six Volumes of Ancient and Modern Poetry, SKT 118; poss. late 10th century) and the Goshūishū (SKT 231).

Literal rendition and notes
  • Measure 1:  wind | rustling
  • Measure 2:  Nara + oak | 's | stream | 's
  • Measure 3:  evening | as-for
  • Measure 4:  purification-rite | summer | 's
  • Measure 5:  sign | be!

Poem 99

   hito mo oshi

hito mo urameshi


yo o omou yue ni

monoomou mi wa


   One person I hold dear,

another I may resent.

   Such are the thoughts

of one who has come to think

the world a distasteful place.

-- Retired Emperor Go-Toba


The source is the second “Miscellaneous" book of the Shokugosenshū (SKT 1202). Go-Toba (1180 – 1239; r. 1183 – 1198) was the fourth son of Emperor Takakura (1161 – 1181; r. 1168 – 1180). He ordered the compilation of the Shinkokinshū but spent the last 19 years of his life in exile on the island of Oki after the Jōkyū Disturbance of 1221.

Although this waka was composed more than eight years before the Jōkyū Disturbance, scholars tend to view it as presaging Go-Toba’s open conflict with the Kamakura shogunate. One certainly gets a sense of the personal politics involved at the highest levels of court life. Disagreement exists over whether Go-Toba is referring to different types of people or to different aspects that can be discerned in the same individual. The translation attempts to straddle the boundary between specific and general. Poetic techniques include the use of a nikugire syntactic break after the second measure and the tōchi-hō inversion of the first two measures and the last three.

The last two waka of One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets -- both by retired emperors who are also father and son -- are clearly meant to parallel the opening pair, attributed to emperors who were father and daughter. This frame can be said to give the collection as a whole a political tinge, as if Teika were suggesting solidarity with the court and lamenting the current state of imperial decline. At the same time, this bookend-style arrangement also draws attention to the role of the collection as an affirmation of cultural identity.

Literal rendition and notes
  • Measure 1:  person | also | valued
  • Measure 2:  person | also | resented
  • Measure 3:  distasteful
  • Measure 4:  world | (acc.) | think | reason | for
  • Measure 5:  think-things | oneself | as-for (this "monoomou" has the literal sense of thinking troubled thoughts and is not connected with thoughts of love)

Poem 100

   momoshiki ya

furuki nokiba no

   shinobu ni mo

nao amari aru

mukashi narikeri


   The shinobu ferns

at the ancient palace eaves

   are more than enough

to call to mind memories

of times that lie in the past.

-- Retired Emperor Juntoku


The source is the third “Miscellaneous” book of the Shokugosenshū (SKT 1205). Juntoku (1197 – 1242; r. 1210 – 1221) was the third son of Emperor Go-Toba (see Poem 99). He too was exiled after the Jōkyū Disturbance, but to the island of Sado, which was where he died.

Continuing in the manner of the previous waka, this one laments the loss of imperial grandeur as evident in the current dilapidated state of the palace. The sole poetic device is the kakekotoba shinobu, acting as a noun to refer to the ferns now growing wild at the palace eaves and doubling as a verb meaning “reminisce" (although the first two measures do come close to functioning as a descriptive jokotoba preface). The poet is overwhelmed by the thought of what once was but is no more. These last two waka represent a darkening of the mood after the purification scene described in Poem 98, but perhaps this melancholy note was precisely what Teika was seeking to convey.

Literal rendition and notes
  • Measure 1:  palace | !
  • Measure 2:  old | eave-tips | 's
  • Measure 3:  shinobu-fern + fondly-recall | whereupon | even
  • Measure 4:  still | overabundance | exist
  • Measure 5:  times-past | be!